Here’s how much gold you get in the 18-karat Apple Watch Edition


Photo: Apple
Come April, there's going to be a new gold rush. Photo: Greg Koenig

Apple hasn’t yet announced prices for its 18-karat-gold Apple Watch Edition timepieces, but if you think the top-of-the-range wearable is going to cost anything under $5,000, you’ve got another thing coming.

Greg Koenig, co-founder of Luma Labs, recently performed a calculation to find out an approximate figure for the gold content of the forthcoming 42mm gold Apple Watch. While Koenig notes that his guess is a “very rough estimate,” it still makes for interesting eye-watering (iWatering?) reading.

His guess? 29.16 grams — which translates to $853.82 at today’s gold prices. And that’s without even taking the electronics into account.

Koenig also notes that his estimation is “missing some parts” including the crown, button, strap clasps and molding runners. His model is just an approximation — based on an average wall thickness of 1.15 mm between the thicker structural areas and the thinner sections — but it’s still enough to give some sense of how pricy this device will likely be.

For comparison (also from Koenig’s Twitter), a gold Rolex Sub costs $38,000, with a raw gold value of $4,000. A Tiffany & Co. pendant, meanwhile, costs $,1450, based on just $175 worth of gold. It really is no wonder Apple plans to keep them in safes at Apple Stores.

Hey, at least the rest of us can feel happy with our $349 basic models, while also making our house payments for the rest of 2015!

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  • ingo mene

    Apple can’t innovate, they only follow the leaders.

    • Dave Ray

      … and pass them.

    • CelestialTerrestrial

      The iPhone was copied by Android phone mfg. That was an Apple innovation that was copied by other phone mfg. because up until the iPhone, everyone else was using keypads and some used stylus pens, Apple was the one that brought out the first full touchscreen smartphone. Same thing with the iPad, PC tablets were much bigger, bulkier and heavier and Apple changed the game by making it ultra thin, without having to use a stylus. They may take another idea, but using innovative ways to make it better. That’s one way Apple innovates. Look at the Newton, that was before Palm Pilot and Pocket PCs. Go look up the Knowledge Navigator project that Apple was working on back in the 80’s. There is a video that shows what the future of computing, according to Apple, was going to look like. When you watch that video, think of how much of what they conceptualized is now is modern day computing devices. Apple was showing that video to the public back in the 80’s. Some of the ideas in that video were brought out by other companies, but Apple was legitimately working on the initial seeds being planted. Some of the technology hadn’t hit the market for many years later.

  • John

    Another “think” coming.

  • CelestialTerrestrial

    So, the watch case contains about 1 ounce of gold? How much gold is left on the floor that they can’t recover from the original slab of gold they mill out? There is probably more gold that gets milled out that they have to figure out how to recover so it can get re-melted.

    I’m wondering if there will be any service to send your Stainless Steel model to get Gold Plated for a LOT cheaper than the Gold model? I’m sure there will be guys doing that, just like there will be jewelers that will add diamonds. There’s a type of plating called PVD and there are some of them that can sputter real gold with titanium nitride which creates a very hard and durable coating over stainless steel that looks just like gold and is VERY durable. Mont Blanc uses this on their expensive jewelry/pens.

    • herbaled

      Believe me … they’ve already figured out how to retrieve the milled-out gold.

  • tHoj101

    Has it been taken into account that Apple had metallurgists add additional compounds/alloys to the gold to strengthen it, wouldn’t that reduce the amount of raw gold required for production? At the end of the day, a premium Apple Watch is built in an overseas factory, while a premium watch will have been handcrafted over weeks, even months, by highly skilled individuals. Makes more sense for a company like Apple to want you to walk into a store every other year and buy a new watch instead of selling you something you’ll hold onto until the technology is no longer supported.

    Shot in the dark, here – $349 38mm Sport – $479 42mm Sport, $549 38mm Watch – $679 42mm Watch, and $1,449 38mm Edition – $1,579 42mm Edition …and even that’s pushing it.

    • kidnickelsss

      I would say the 38mm and 42mm sizes are going to stay the same no matter what edition you buy. No way would you have to pay a premium for a larger watch just because you happen to have a thicker wrist.

      • tHoj101

        If you want a bigger Mac/iPad/iPhone/iPod you pay for it. And because it’s Tim Cook’s Apple now, and using more resources to produce a bigger device isn’t going to be free. So there’s that, and the fact that the strap is adjustable, and the ceramic censor doesn’t increase in size between devices (only the case does) so anyone can wear any Apple Watch.

    • Chuck Bombs

      if it’s 18 karat gold, it doesn’t matter what metals were added to make it stronger, they’re gonna use the same amount of gold as any one else making something from 18 karat gold without apple special metallurgy.

      24 karat gold is pure gold, 18 karat gold is 18 parts gold to 6 parts a.n.other metal.

  • Sy

    18K gold is $29/gram. Let’s say that Apple’s gold is a bit more, say, $32/gram. Thats still about $928 worth of raw 18K gold. The “Sport” edition will be $349. The electronic portion of the Apple Watch is identical in all editions. So if Apple takes 40% gross margin on the gold, that’s $1300 for the gold. Add the price of the sport edition, and you get $1649. Let’s say the higher end bands are worth $200. That’s $1849. So I predict that the AppleWatch Edition will be no more than $2000.

    The comparison to mechanical high end watches such as Rolex are nuts. First of all, the mechanisms cost way more to produce, and always have. That’s why cheap watches are digital. They are selling finely crafted art, with margins Apple could only dream of. You cannot justify a $20,000 price tag on material cost alone. Like a piece of art, a finely crafted mechanical watch can last almost forever.

    Apple is not competing with those guys directly. But they will want to appeal to higher end consumers. So $2000 is my guess at the price. We’ll know in April.

  • Jacek

    Could you let me know what is a source of the gold price? As far I know, the market price of the 1 ounce is about 1200 $ Is it a special Apple price?

  • 100% pure gold = 24 karat gold. It is too soft and malleable to be used in jewelry as it bends easily under minimal pressure. 18 karat gold contains 75% gold plus silver, copper and zinc to add to its hardness and durability. 18 karat rose gold contains 75% gold, 22.25% copper and 2.75% silver. Who knows what processes Apple is using on its Watches? It may be they have worked out a heavy plating method using 18 karat gold with a base of stainless steel or even aircraft grade aluminum. Whatever they’ve done, you can bet your boots that it will be a high-quality manufacturing process that will produce a beautiful and durable body for the Watch. Can’t wait to see it when its released. I may not buy one, but then I don’t own a Rolex either.