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The new ceramic Apple Watch Edition appears to have replaced the 18-carat gold version
The new ceramic Apple Watch Edition appears to have replaced the 18-carat gold version

Apple scraps 18-carat gold watch

Apple appears to have quietly retreated from the luxury watch sector following reports it has stopped selling its 18-carat gold smartwatch.

Amidst the fanfare of the recent product launches of the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 range, one model was notably absent – the gold Apple Watch Edition.

As reported by Jeweller in April, the company had apparently started to downplay its most expensive smartwatch and removed it from the landing page and ‘Personalization’ section of its website.

Following the product launches, Apple’s legion of online commentators were quick to highlight the high-end model had seemingly disappeared from its website.

Released in Australia in early 2015, the Apple Watch Edition reportedly cost between US$10,000 (AU$13,000) and US$17,000 (AU$22,000).

A new version of the Edition was included in the Series 2 release; however, it would sell for a comparatively lower price of $1,799 to $1,899 via the Apple Watch ‘Buy’ page.

Text underneath the updated model stated it had been “re imagined in brilliant white ceramic” with no mention of a gold predecessor.

Passing fad or potential threat?

News of the removal of the 18-carat gold model may have well been welcomed by the Swiss watch industry.

Despite ‘concerns’ about smartwatches’ impact on the traditional watch market, particularly the Swiss watch sector, only 21 per cent of 50 executives surveyed for the 2016 Deloitte Swiss Watch Industry Study said they saw smartwatches as a risk, according to a Reuters report.

The study drew no firm conclusions about the impact of the devices on the Swiss watch industry, instead finding other issues – including declining demand from Hong Kong and China, a strong Swiss franc and international uncertainty – were having a greater effect on performance.

“There is no sign at this stage that sales of Swiss wristwatches have been impacted by smartwatches especially since the entire Swiss watch industry is currently suffering, regardless of the price range,” the study read.

It also noted: “After Apple decided to discontinue the gold versions of its watch (which started at CHF10,000 (AU$13,000), it seems clear that the current most important target market is rather between CHF1,000 and 2,000 (AU$1,300 and AU$2,700).”

At this price range, the ceramic Apple Watch Edition and various versions with leather Hermès straps would compete against some of the lower-priced Swiss watch models, such as the Tag Heuer Carrera Connected, the study found.

It could be argued Apple’s foray into the high-end market was doomed from the start.

Multiple media sources have pointed out that a major selling point of Swiss-made timepieces is their longevity, whereas Apple’s business model involves releasing updated versions of its products once a year.

Jeweller approached Apple for comment but the company had not responded by the time of publication.

More reading
Death knell for gold Apple Watch?
Apple remains mum amid poor watch sale rumours
Apple learns from jewellery stores
Apple pick-pocket Watch – the real 'game'

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