Yesterday Apple announced the details around the Apple Watch. Tim Cook announced three different product lines; Sport, Watch and Edition. The first two tiers fall in line with what you’d expect ($349 and $549 respectively) for a product like this. It was the third line, Edition, that caused many to do a double-take. I understand why Apple did it – why wouldn’t they want to compete in the luxury watch market alongside the likes of Rolex, Panerai, Cartier and Patek Philippe? Watches from those brands easily command prices from the low thousands to almost a million dollars.
What Apple seems to be forgetting is that other luxury timepieces are investments that, with proper care and maintenance, will last you a lifetime. In fact, many of those watches are passed down from generation to generation. So, yes, $10,000 for a Rolex might seem steep, but when you consider it could be part of your family for 50-100 years, you can see the value. Watchmaking is an age-old craft that mixes artistry and science. The precision it takes to produce a proper mechanical timepiece is incredible. And, that technology hasn’t changed all that much since the 17th century.
Now let’s think about spending $10,000 – $17,000 on an Apple Watch Edition. That watch certainly won’t be something you’ll pass on to your children or grandchildren unless the thought of passing on a rotary phone or your old Sony Walkman sounds appealing to you. Try to think about the last electronic product you’ve owned and actively used on a regular basis for more than five or six years. Can you imagine still using the first or second generation iPhone, for example?
I would expect Apple to offer some sort of upgrade path for those that purchase the Edition. Whether it’s the ability to upgrade the software significantly from version to version or a guaranteed trade-in amount toward the purchase of a newer model, it feels like Apple should address this in some meaningful way.
Personally, I have an affinity for watches. And while I don’t have any in the $10,000+ range, I do have a great swiss timepiece from Baume & Mercier. It’s simple and elegant and something I hope to pass on someday. The Apple Watch is fun and seems like it would be quite useful for many things. But as an investment timepiece? That’s a bridge too far Apple.
For the record, I’ll almost certainly buy one – either the Sport or Watch – but, I’ll look at them as pieces of technology with planned obsolescence, like an iPhone.
What do you think? Will you be buying an Apple Watch? What tier are you looking at? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.