The Apple Watch is on track for a February release, according to supply chain sources in China. A February launch echoes an earlier report from The Information, which said Apple will be “lucky” to ship by Valentine’s Day.
While mass manufacturing of the Apple Watch hasn’t begun yet, there are already concerns that sapphire production won’t be able to meet initial demand. The constraints will likely result in making more expensive Apple Watch models harder to come by.
All sapphire for the Apple Watch is coming from Apple’s plant with GT Advanced (GTAT) in Arizona. Because of Apple’s very stringent quality specifications, GTAT will reportedly be unable to meet the level of output Apple had hoped.
Not all Apple Watch models use a sapphire display, however. The lowest-end Apple Watch Sport uses strengthened Ion-X glass, while the mid-level Apple Watch and higher-end gold Apple Watch Edition use sapphire.
Initial supply constraints are not uncommon for Apple products, especially entirely new product categories like the Watch. If lines to see the Watch in person during Paris Fashion Week are any indication, demand will be extremely high when it goes on sale.
Since the Apple Watch was unveiled last month, it’s been clear that the product is unfinished on multiple levels. Demo units shown to the press have been running videos on continuous loops, and Apple hasn’t said anything about pricing. All Apple has said about availability is that it plans to ship by “early 2015.”