Apple Watch 18-karat gold edition was reportedly a flop

Going after the luxury watch market did not pay off
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Apple's early attempts to make a super-expensive version of its Apple Watch bombed, with sales figures only reaching the tens of thousands.

That's according to an article in Bloomberg profiling Apple's chief operating officer Jeff Williams, who currently leads the Apple Watch development team.

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When the first Apple Watch launched in 2015, the company pitched its smartwatch as a fashionable, luxury take on the traditional timepiece. At the heart of that push was the Apple Watch Edition, which featured your choice of an 18-karat rose gold or yellow gold case. Prices started at $10,000, with the most expensive configuration priced at $17,000.

But it seems the decision to go after the luxury watch buyers did not pay off, with the gold Watch struggling to convince. After the initial disappointing numbers, sales flatlined after the first two weeks of the Watch Edition going on sale.

Since the first iteration of the Watch, Apple has begun to shift the focus on the health and fitness capabilities of its smartwatch. While Apple does still have a designer collaboration hook-up with Hermès, you can no longer buy the pricey Watch, which was discontinued when the Series 4 was unveiled in September last year.

The profile piece also revealed some interesting insights into Williams' role heading up the development of the Watch. Williams pitched the Apple Watch as health tool and has been part of Watch announcements since 2015.

He was responsible for scrapping thousands of the first generation Watches due to the fact that employees were having allergic reactions to the type of nickel used in its casing. He also held back sending out a few thousand Watches when some employees noticed the taptic engine used to create Apple's Force Touch feature was prone to long-term failure from corrosion.

So, early Apple Watch owners were apparently saved from putting on defective versions of the first Watch thanks to the man who is charged with building future Apple Watches. Just don't expect those future Apple Watches to be rocking blingtastic materials.

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Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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