As anyone who has popped into a watch store can tell you, high-end watches are expensive. Amazingly expensive. Cheaper Rolexes cost about $7,500 in stainless steel and a Panerai or Patek can’t be had for anything less than $12,000. And that’s exactly where the Apple Watch Edition lands – smack in the middle of the rarefied air of Haute Horology.
Before you grumble about how ridiculous Apple is being in pricing the “Edition” model of its watch at over $10,000, we must understand why this number makes sense. First, the $10,000 model isn’t for us. It’s for folks who are either watch obsessives and/or amazingly rich. To them $10,000 is the low-end.
And so Apple enters the luxury market where the strangest stuff is wildly expensive. And they’re doing this for good reason. While everyone will be sporting an Apple Watch over the next few months, there will be little social signaling as to the difference between a steel sport model and a more expensive Edition model. Sure, the gold case might give it away but generally if you’re the kind of person who would spend $10,000 on a watch you’re doing it for the thrill and social capital associated with such an accessory. This is exactly the same reason Louis Vuitton sticks to their age-old purse pattern and Christian Louboutin features a blood-red sole: it’s the little differences that matter. After all, in the markets where this watch will be popular, namely Asia and Russia, a $10,000 watch on your wrist is table stakes in the business world.
If you’re not into watches or preening, feel free to pretend the Edition watches don’t exist. They are Apple’s answer to a game that they were forced to play by launching a wearable and expect to see Android Wear Luxe and Vertu Pebbles over the next few months as manufacturers play catch-up. They are a necessary evil in a world where accessories can cost more than a car and buyers won’t blink at the thought of a $50,000 cellphone.