Jeff Willliams axed gold Apple Watch after disappointing sales

Sales of $17,000 gold Apple Watch flatlined after two weeks


The Apple Watch Edition, released in 2015, was made of 18-karat gold.
A close-up look at the gold Apple Watch from 2015 to see what made it tick.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

The 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition drew a ton of social media ballyhoo when the pricey luxury watch was part of the first generation watches in 2015.

But who would pay $10,000 for a watch sure to be obsolete in a hurry? As many predicted, not a lot of people.

The gold Apple Watch’s disappointing sales are among several interesting tidbits
in a Bloomberg profile of Apple operations chief Jeff Williams, seen as CEO Tim Cook’s eventual successor.

Apple tapped Williams to lead the Apple Watch team in 2013, one of several responsibilities piled on his plate.

The Bloomberg story’s mention of the gold watch does not explain why the company decided to enter the luxury watch market with the model.

Reporter Mark Gurman wrote: “The company discontinued the exorbitant gold versions after a year; it sold in the low tens of thousands of them, but few after the first two weeks. Still, as the Watch’s hardware and software have improved, Apple has quietly taken control of the market for internet-connected fitness wristbands, accounting for more than half the sales in the category last year, according to researcher Strategy Analytics.”

Apple scrapped the 18-karat gold watch, made of a special hardened alloy, after 16 months. The device remains stuck on watchOS 4, unable to run the latest Apple Watch software.

The Apple Watch Series 2 lineup featured the first ceramic Apple Watch Edition. That upscale model cost a more reasonable $1,299.

Apple recovered from the gold watch’s skimpy sales, refining the device and focusing heavily on its health benefits, which garner near-daily headlines for saving lives. Williams saw this potential, pitched it to the higher-ups, and rose to lead the watch development team.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.