Earlier this year, we released a photo gallery of 10 concept designs created for the elusive iWatch, Apple’s upcoming smartwatch set to release within the next year, but few of the presumptive designs looked plausible. Six months later, Italian designer Federico Ciccarese, who has consistently created some of the most beautiful concepts for future Apple products, has released what might be the best concept we’ve yet seen for the highly anticipated Apple iWatch.

Ciccarese, who was recently commissioned to create a concept of the upcoming budget iPhone, teamed up with three of his friends -- Raffaello Infantino, Andrea Castellano and Mauro Alfieri -- to create one of the most beautiful renderings of the iWatch we’ve seen yet. Whether or not the concept is “Apple-worthy” has yet to be determined, but considering the few rumors we’ve heard about the iWatch design, this concept features enough credible elements to be considered valid. Check out photos of Ciccarese’s iWatch concept below, and watch the full video from Ciccarese at the bottom of the page.

Presumably, the Apple iWatch would replicate many of the features found in today’s fitness bands like the Jawbone Up and Nike Fuelband, but with the addition of iOS 7, an iWatch could do so much more. You could receive and answer texts, calls and app notifications directly on your iWatch. You could engage in FaceTime, or navigate to your next location, without ever having to take out your iPhone. You could access all your iOS apps from the iWatch, but Apple would encourage developers to build new apps specifically for iWatch, perhaps using one’s own pulse, blood pressure or exercise data to provide other forms of information for the user.

“There are lots of gadgets in this space right now, but there’s nothing great out there,” Cook said at the D11 Conference in June. “None of them are going to convince a kid that hasn’t worn glasses or a band to wear one. … There are a lot of problems to solve in this space. … It’s ripe for exploration. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this space.”

Apple, which has been able to replicate NFC technology with a mixture of Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and its iCloud ecosystem (see: AirDrop in iOS 7), will use its other iDevices to leverage the iWatch with deep connectivity. Silicon Valley programmer/blogger Steve Cheney pointed to the introduction of Bluetooth LE (a.k.a. Bluetooth “Smart” 4.0), which will allow for effortless, instantaneous and reliable pairing connections in mobile.

“Apple’s iWatch will work so well with your iPhone out of the gate when it’s launched you will be blown away,” Cheney said on his blog.

When Will Apple Release The iWatch?

In mid-July, The Financial Times said Apple was upping its efforts to hire “the talent required to build [iWatch]” due to “hard engineering problems that [Apple has] not been able to solve,” according to one source.

Apple may be experiencing any number of issues with creating the iWatch. Fitting the ideal chipsets and display to maximize power and performance could be problematic for a small and flexible device like iWatch, but Apple is probably having a tough time with the battery. Batteries tend to be Apple’s Achilles' heel, especially when it comes to small portables like iPod and iPhone: Either the battery's life doesn’t last long at all, or it becomes too hot, sometimes to the point of burning or spontaneous combustion. Apple doesn’t want any lawsuits caused by the iWatch burning consumers’ wrists, so Apple likely needs more time to ensure the iWatch is not only functional upon its release date, but also safe.

Another issue Apple may be facing is the wrist strap for the iWatch. Many watchmakers prefer all-metal enclosures; considering Apple is a luxury brand, the company may pursue some form of lightweight metal to help create the iWatch strap. However, if Apple wants the iWatch to appeal to lower-income markets, it may consider investing in inexpensive, interchangeable leather watchstraps, as it did with its sixth-generation iPod Nano.

Despite these potential production issues, Apple certainly wants to release the iWatch sooner rather than later. Besides competitors like Samsung and Google looking to release their own smart watches in the near future, Apple is applying internal pressure thanks to the recent hiring of 100-plus product designers, former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve, and fitness expert and consultant on the Nike Fuelband Jay Blahnik. Apple has also been serious about filing its international iWatch trademarks, having already filed for the name in several different countries including Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, Turkey, India, Colombia and Chile, working with local law firms to ensure their trademarks receive priority.

According to Japanese blog Macotakara, Apple has begun manufacturing displays with RiTdisplay, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based RITEK that focuses solely on touch-sensitive organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, and has even sent orders to its manufacturing partner Foxconn to build roughly 1,000 units of the iWatch, which isn’t enough for mass production, but is likely enough for a small-scale trial to test the durability and quality of the iWatch display.

What do you think of the iWatch? Do you like Ciccarese’s concept, or do you prefer another iWatch concept out there? Would you buy this or any other kind of smartwatch? Let us know in the comments section below.

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