Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Last Friday the long-awaited Apple Watch arrived in Apple retail stores, with online ordering commencing at midnight Pacific. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the Apple Watch is something completely different for Apple: a single product line with over 50 configurations. I mean, Apple hasn’t offered this many models in a product line since the Performa fiasco in the mid ‘90s. But I digress. All of the 50+ configurations have the same guts, software, and features; the only thing that distinguishes one from the next are the materials used for the case, display, and watchband.
To make things a bit less confusing, Apple has organized them into three “collections.”
- The Apple Watch Sport collection offers 10 models (38 or 42mm sizes in 5 colors each) that feature anodized aluminum cases, Ion-X glass displays, and flexible fluoroelastomer (rubberlike) bands, priced from $349 to $399.
- The Apple Watch collection is the largest, with 20 models that have stainless steel cases, sapphire crystal displays, and metal or leather bands, priced from $549 to $1,099.
- Finally, there’s the high-end Apple Watch Edition, with 8 models that include 18k rose gold or yellow gold cases, sapphire crystal displays, and premium leather charging boxes. As for the prices, if you have to ask you can’t afford one. I’ll tell you anyway: They run $10,000 to $17,000 and are only available at a handful of Apple Store. In Texas, that means zero stores in Austin and one each in Dallas and Houston.
The Apple retail stores have been redesigned to accommodate a new display and demonstration area devoted exclusively to Apple Watches. The demo table has these magical drawers that are locked until your specialist touches a secret spot with his or her magic key, causing it to slide open silently to reveal its bevy of beautiful watches for your trying-on pleasure. Check it out in this spycam footage I captured:
Now for the bad news: You can’t walk into an Apple Store and walk out with an Apple Watch — not today, not after they ship on April 24, and probably not anytime soon. You can only order an Apple Watch online. Sadly, even if you order today, most models are sold out until June.
If that doesn’t deter you, and you want to check them out and try one (or more) on before you decide — an excellent idea, by the way, given the number of available configurations, sizes, and weights — I strongly recommend scheduling a try-on appointment. See, each Apple Store has a limited number of try-on appointments with a Watch Specialist available each day. While there are some slots reserved for walk-ins, you’ll probably get in and out faster if you have an appointment (use the Apple Store app on your iDevice or visit www.apple.com/retail.)
When I checked yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), most Texas Apple stores still had appointments available today, tomorrow, and Thursday. So even though many people including yours truly walked into an Apple Store and secured an appointment in a reasonable amount of time, you’d be smart to schedule an appointment and avoid the wait.
Moving right along, something I found extremely interesting was that all the watches in the drawers of the demo table can only run the Apple Watch demo. To actually try a feature of the watch, you’re directed to a demo watch embedded (seriously) in a large white plastic slab that weighs like ten pounds. (It has a display and a micro-USB port, so I’m pretty sure it includes a very big battery).
It weighs about 10 pounds and has a USB port; I say it’s a big battery…
Something I found disturbing was that the Austin Apple Store had the solid 18k gold Apple Watch Edition in its display case, but none available to touch or try on. I learned that the nearest store where I could touch a solid gold Apple Watch Edition is in Dallas or Houston, a 3+ hours drive.
Rant on: Hey Apple… What are we (we meaning Austin), chopped liver? We’ve got plenty of (new) residents with more money than sense. Why don’t we rate solid gold watches, huh? Rant off.
The Apple Stores in Austin have 18k gold Apple Watch Editions under glass, but to touch one, you’ll have to travel to Dallas or Houston…
My entire try-on and ordering experience couldn’t have gone more smoothly. I walked into the Austin Domain Apple Store on Friday morning at 11AM and secured a try-on appointment almost immediately. After a delightful 15 or 20-minute session with a knowledgeable specialist, having my (many) questions answered as I tried on four different configurations, I knew just what I needed to do.
I drove home and ordered the 42mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport Edition. Sadly, it won’t ship until June.
This is the watch I ordered ($399); unfortunately, I won’t see it until June.
So, I guess the moral of the story is that if you want an Apple Watch and haven’t ordered one yet, you might want to try one on and place an order sooner rather than later. I expect supply to catch up with demand over the next few months, but if you don’t order soon, you run the risk of not getting a watch until July or August.
And that’s all he wrote…