$10,000+ Apple Watch Edition sales plunged after just two weeks

The Apple Watch has become synonymous with its fitness and health-focused features over the years and with the fifth-gen model now approaching, this will likely continue being the focal point. Back when the original device launched in 2015, though, the smartwatch’s path wasn’t so clear.

The Apple Watch Edition was created through compromise

The Apple Watch project is understood to have been first brought to the table by departing Chief Design Officer Jony Ive. Many executives pushed back against the idea because they feared it’d lack a compelling “killer app” but Tim Cook ultimately approved the project in 2013. Jony Ive and his design team began work on the wearable straight away while current COO Jeff Williams, who could potentially replace Cook as CEO in the future, oversaw the development of the project.

From the start, Ive’s vision for the Apple Watch involved a rectangular face. To help polish the look and feel of the wearable and its accompanying interface, Apple hired Marc Newson, one of Jony Ive’s friends who had developed designs for rectangular watches in the past. Mr. Ive is said to have met with his team “almost daily” to perfect the Apple Watch. But when it came to marketing the wearable for release, there were some huge disagreements with Apple’s executives. 

Jony Ive, on the one hand, saw the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory and wanted to market it as such. The company’s team of leaders, on the other hand, felt it should be treated as an extension of the iPhone. Ultimately, compromises took place and Apple tried to cater to all consumers. It created entry-level models priced at $349 and 18-Karat gold Watch Edition versions paired with Hermès bands which retailed as high as $17,000.

Apple barely sold any units but still captured 5% of the market

The Apple Watch itself underperformed during its first year – Apple had forecasted sales of around 40 million units but sold just 10 million – yet the premium 18-Karat gold Watch Edition versions took the disappointment to a completely new level. The premium models reportedly sold “in the low tens of thousands” of units, with the majority of these being snapped up immediately after launch. Once the hype had died down, Apple struggled to ship any and ultimately sold “few after the first two weeks.”

Fast forward to today and 18-Karat gold Apple Watch Editions are nowhere to be seen. The company does still offer luxury bands from Hermès which cost up to $539 each, but it hasn’t sold an ultra-premium version of the Apple Watch since September 2016 when the Series 2 model was introduced. The company never explained the Watch Edition’s lack of popularity, but it probably had something to do with the fact that it’d be an outdated piece of tech within a matter of years – the models are currently stuck on WatchOS 4 – thus making it a bad investment compared to other premium watches from the likes of Rolex, Tag Heuer, and Omega.

On a related and rather curious note, it’s worth pointing out that the Apple Watch Edition still captured a decent amount of market share, especially for a brand that was new to the segment. Throughout 2015, a total of 490,000 watches coated in “precious metals” such as gold, silver, and platinum were sold. Considering the Apple Watch Edition sold in the “low tens of thousands,” it seems Apple captured a market share of roughly 5%.

Compared to the company's share in the smartwatch market which currently sits at over 35%, such a small slice of an even tinier pie probably wasn’t worthwhile, hence why the brand exited the segment the following year. Nevertheless, it’s still interesting to see how Apple’s sales compared to those of rival brands.



1. Cat97

Posts: 1933; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Really, it's offensive to sell such a dorky design as jewelry.

2. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I don't see eye to eye with you Cat97, but I have to agree the Apple watch is most definitely a dorky square design. It must be an Apple thing where everyone has to look the same, and wear the same square design. George Orwell would be happy with Apple and how everyone looks and wears the same things. Apple loves their continuous design reuse. Apple is really great at flogging the same designs until the public becomes sick of them. Apple is such an innovator. Or wait, what's the word for the opposite of an innovator?

3. apple-rulz

Posts: 2195; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

What Apple does occupies your entire mind, so obviously they have you hooked.

4. Alcyone

Posts: 488; Member since: May 10, 2018

Apple will soon be beating a dead horse. I agree with post #2, square is not usually associated with premium. Point me to a square Rolex, Tag, Omega, etc. Apple shouldve know better, true mechanical watches are the only ones that can pull of premium luxury. Just accept it. Don't like it for all i care, tho. Ps people may be "hooked" on Apples lack of innovation as of late. Too bad. Lol...

5. lyndon420

Posts: 6827; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

They can't keep pushing the dorky square design for much longer. Maybe in 5 years or so they'll put out a round watch... something that actually looks good.

6. Kdk2020

Posts: 42; Member since: Apr 27, 2016

Damn bruh it's not that deep

7. Mike88

Posts: 437; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

Apple watch is the highest selling watch in the world, not just smart watch but among all watches.. So it looks like a paid article out of jealousy

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