Jony Ive’s new interview with The Financial Times is packed with nerdy details on the Apple Watch and the designer’s life. Slipped in among the juicy design bits, Sir Jonathan also hints that Apple invented an entirely new form of gold just for the timepiece.
“The molecules in Apple gold are closer together, making it twice as hard as standard gold,” Ive says.
Wait. Gold is a metal. Does Apple’s design studio exist in another dimension?
As pointed out by Ars Technica, Ive’s statement actually isn’t crazy at all.
Ive and the design team are obsessed with the materials that go into Apple products, and the gold composite they might be using in the the Apple Watch Edition could be its most innovative feature. Apple was granted a patent in December 2014 for creating a “method and apparatus for forming a gold metal matrix composite.” Ars notes that metal matrix composites allow manufacturers to create complex components, similar to 3-D printing. Apple could be using this approach to make its special gold.
It’s unclear if Apple is actually using this patent for the Apple Watch’s gold. Apple files patents on anything it thinks is patentable, however, Apple hinted at the watch being made of gold hardened in a novel compression process during its keynote, but we didn’t know it would be twice as hard as normal 18-karat gold. The patent says the process could yield gold that’s up to four times harder.
Whether the public will recognize the extra value in Apple’s gold is yet to be seen. Pricing details for the high-end Apple Watch Edition are expected to be announced at Apple’s upcoming “Spring Forward” event next Monday. Rumors suggest prices could start anywhere from $4,500 to $10,000.