This $43,000 Apple Watch will appeal to your inner oligarch

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golld Apple Watch
This Series 4 will cost serious dollars.
Photo: Caviar

Caviar, a Russian company that tricks out iPhones in gold and precious gems, has an Apple Watch Series 4 “for those who cannot be surprised easily.”

So let’s see if that’s you. How does $43,850 strike you?

The headline may have ruined the surprise, but you might be startled once you learn the details that got the watch to that price point.

Get a closer look at the el cheapo gold Apple Watch

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The gold Apple Watch looks great with a navy band.
The gold Apple Watch looks great with a navy band.
Photo: Blake Kimball

Apple fans can’t purchase the iPhone 6s, Apple TV, or iPad Pro that were unveiled yesterday, but if you’re lucky you can pick up the cheap gold Apple Watch Sport today, now that Apple Stores have received limited supplies of new units.

Cult of Mac got an early look at the new gold finish thanks to a reader who already scooped up a 42mm gold Apple Watch Sport at the Apple Store in Gilbert, Arizona, and while the new model is way cheaper than its expensive Edition sibling, it still looks like a million bucks.

Take a closer look:

Gold Apple Watch looks great on my wrist. If only I could turn it on.

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The $10,000 gold Apple Watch Edition, the first and only time I will probably every wear an expensive time piece. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac
The $10,000 gold Apple Watch Edition, the first and only time I will probably ever wear an expensive time piece. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

CHICAGO — I grabbed the black suit jacket I was married in because I wasn’t sure how to dress for a private appointment to try on a $10,000 gold watch.

My look is challenging to class up. The clean-shaven head, long goatee and ample belly blend in better at a biker bar. But I felt halfway respectable-looking when I walked into the Apple Store in Chicago’s upscale Lincoln Park neighborhood for a Saturday morning hands-on showing of the Apple Watch Edition.

Not many Apple Stores are scheduling appointments for the 18-karat gold Edition, but the ones that do provide extra-special attention. I had a friendly guide, two floor supervisors who came by to shake my hand and thank me for my patience, and a couple of hawk-eyed security guards.

Apple’s special gold isn’t so special after all

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apple-watch-edition
The gold in Apple's 18-karat watch is a standard gold alloy, not a miraculous gold/ceramic mix. Credit: Apple

All week, it’s been reported that Apple is using a “new gold” in the gold Apple Watch Edition. According to Bloomberg, Slate, Gizmodo and many others, Apple has patented a new process to create a “metal matrix composite” by mixing gold with ceramic particles.

The composite supposedly allows Apple to save on the amount of gold it uses, while making the substance super-hard and adding other amazing properties.

But according to Atakan Peker, a materials scientist and one of the co-inventors of Liquidmetal, which Apple holds an exclusive license on, it’s extremely unlikely Apple is using any kind of “new gold” for its watches.

He knows this because Jony Ive says so.

Why the $10,000 Watch is essential to Apple’s plan

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Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

It’s taken all week, but I finally think I have a pretty good idea why Apple is selling a crazy-expensive, super-exclusive gold watch.

Initially, the very idea that Apple would make something for the one percent seemed abhorrent. What makes Apple great is that it sells affordable luxury to the masses.

Apple’s well-designed and well-made products should really only be for the rich, but they are generally affordable to the middle classes. Apple pulls off the miraculous, selling us BMWs at Kia prices.

This is what makes the gold Apple Watch Edition stand out. At first glance, it’s obviously not a product for us. But even though you and I will probably never own one, the $10,000 timepiece is actually kinda democratic, because it’s all about selling $350 watches to the masses.

Why the $17,000 gold Apple Watch might actually be too cheap

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Photo: Apple
Despite its hefty price tag, the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition might actually be too cheap. Photo: Apple

The tech world is completely aghast at the price of the gold Apple Watch Edition, which starts at $10,000 but is more likely to set buyers back $17,000 (plus tax!).

The pricing is baking everyone’s noodles. We can’t wrap our heads around a super-expensive watch that will soon be obsolete and is functionally identical to a $350 model. This is not how tech works.

But that’s the point. I wrote how the high-end Apple Watch winds me up — I argued that its very existence is antithetical to Apple’s democratic values. But after further research, it’s obvious that Apple knows exactly what it’s doing, and it’s very smart — even if I still don’t like the gold watch’s enormous price tag.

The Apple Watch Edition is a classic Veblen product. The outrageous price is the whole point. And the higher it gets, the more of them Apple will sell. It might even be priced too low.

Pricey gold Apple Watch could make $5 billion per quarter

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Apple
The high-end Apple Watch Edition could bring in the bulk of Cupertino's revenue from wearables. Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

The Apple Watch Edition has perplexed many Apple fanboys with its ridiculously high price tag. We still don’t know how much the beautiful, high-end smartwatch will cost, but it’s expected be one of the most expensive Apple products ever, which has a lot of analysts wondering, how many is Apple going sell?

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that only 17 percent of the first 5 million Apple Watch orders were for the pricey gold Edition. That number sounds almost insignificant, but Daring Fireball’s John Gruber did some math and found that Apple is expecting to sell about 1 million of the exorbitantly expensive timepieces per quarter.

Hitting 1 million in sales for the super-expensive smartwatches in the first quarter would be an impressive feat. But what’s more surprising is that if Apple actually hits that number, the gold Edition Apple Watches would account for the most Apple Watch revenue, bringing in at least $5 billion per quarter.

Here’s why: