The clock is ticking for Apple’s latest product, the Apple Watch. In just two weeks, the company is set to give customers a hands-on opportunity with its first smartwatch and new product category since the iPad.
But getting your hands on one for launch day could be a bit of a challenge, as inventories are expected to be tight due to supply constraints as well as the dizzying array of models and strap options to choose from. We put together a guide of what to expect during pre-orders and how to avoid the lines.
Starting April 10, Apple retail stores will be revamped with new display tables and glass cases for customers to preview, try-on and pre-order the Apple Watch. But in order to do so, customers will need to make a reservation similar to the process Apple has with its Genius Bar appointments. For most customers, 15 minutes will be allocated to their time slot. However, customers interested in the 18-karat gold “Edition” model will have longer 30 minute sessions to try on the Watch.
Customers can also opt to skip the crowds and pre-order the watch directly from Apple’s online store or its Apple Store iOS app. The company hasn’t confirmed exactly what time online pre-orders will begin. But if they follow iPhone launch trends, pre-orders could start as early as 3:01 a.m. EDT/12:01 a.m. PDT on April 10.
Apple Watch Boutiques
Beyond Apple online and retail stores, the company is also launching three dedicated watch shops located in luxury department stores such as Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Isetan Shinjuku in Tokyo on April 10. A selection of retailers and fashion boutiques are also expected to sell select collections of the Apple watch on launch day, including Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Colette in Paris, Maxfield in Los Angeles and the Corner in Berlin.
Beyond those outlets, it’s not clear which big-box retailers – such as Best Buy -- if any, will carry the Apple Watch. One exception is Target, which confirmed that it isn’t carrying the Apple Watch at launch.
Lots of Options
If you’ve gotten past the decision process on whether or not to buy an Apple Watch, you’ll then have to choose which model will suit you the best: the aluminum Apple Watch sport, stainless steel Apple Watch or the 18-karat gold Edition, which all come in two lengths: 38mm and 42mm. Coupled with the myriad of wrist straps available, there’s 38 combinations to choose from.
Lots of Prices
Apple Watch prices will largely vary based on several factors: model, size and wrist strap. At the low end, the 38mm Apple Watch Sport with sport band will cost $349 with the 42mm model costing $399. The stainless steel Apple Watch's starting price jumps to $549 and can run as high as $1,099 depending on strap option. The 18-karat gold Edition models skyrocket to a starting price of $10,000, topping out at $17,000.
If you have deep enough pockets for the Apple Watch Edition, the next step will be finding one. While the aluminum and stainless steel models are expected to be available at all Apple Store locations, the 18-karat gold model is only expected to be available in limited locations such as the company’s flagship stores in major cities.
Following pre-orders, the Apple Watch officially goes on sale two weeks later on April 24 in nine countries and markets including Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, France, the UK and the U.S.