Apple decides it won’t be Rolex

Rob Bates

You may have heard that Apple is no longer offering headphone jacks on its phones. But from a jewelry standpoint, the tech giant’s biggest news this week is it’s stopped selling 18k gold watches.

After only a year and a half, the 18k gold Apple Watch Edition —which retailed from $10,000 to $17,000—has seemingly disappeared from its site; the Apple Watch “buy” page no longer lists any gold models, and the page that used to list the gold model now “can’t be found.”

Apple’s foray into high-end luxury was much discussed and speculated upon. It claimed to have invented a new extra-hard gold (which metallurgists doubted). It poached Patrick Pruniaux from TAG Heuer and placed the high-end watch in London Jewelers and Los Angeles boutique Maxfield. It reportedly held talks with Tiffany and Nordstrom. There was even talk it would follow up the gold timepiece with a platinum model. Many thought the tech giant was transforming itself into a lifestyle brand.

But Pruniaux no longer works exclusively for the watch business, and judging from their sites, London Jewelers and Maxfield have moved on. Apple recently signed a deal to get its watch in a department store—mid-market Macy’s, rather than Nordstrom. Apple is still offering an Edition watch—but the “reimagined” Edition is now in ceramic and carries a relatively modest $1,249 price tag.

Watch industry insiders were always skeptical about Apple’s chances of becoming a luxury name, arguing that high-end watches are designed to last a lifetime (or more), while tech toys get frequent updates. Apple may have been able to get around this, if, as some predicted, it engineered a way to make the high-end watch endlessly upgradable. But that never happened—perhaps an early indicator that the company hadn’t really thought through its entrance into the luxury sector.

The high-end watch was always a strange fit for both jewelers and Apple. For jewelers to truly do well with it, they would probably also need to carry the lower-end models. But those could also been found at chains such as Best Buy, which frequently discount. Further, Apple has always been about selling large numbers. It’s tough to turn $17,000 watches into a high-volume business.

Read full article

Source JCK Online