The Gold Watch Problem - My Thoughs on wild predicitions.

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by Piggie, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    Note: This is a long post :)

    I've been meaning to write this for some time, so I thought with days to go it's about time I did.

    The Gold Watch.

    The price some have been speculating here, $4000, $5000, $6000, even $10,000

    I have a problem with this, and I want to explain why, and see what you feel about my feelings.

    1st: Apple is a mass market company, selling to the mass millions.

    2nd: Apple is showing off the Gold model along side other, lets call them normal models.

    3rd: Apple wants many people to be able to enjoy and be seen with their products, and we must assume wants to be a leader in the market.

    So, we have this Gold model problem.

    Many people, perhaps more women then men, love the look of gold.
    Perhaps the look, even more than the value is what they like.
    They have a gold ring, perhaps wedding band, a gold necklace, probably thin chain with a charm or something, and perhaps some small gold earrings or studs perhaps for day to day wear.

    All of these thing they love. They are dainty, and feminine, and whilst they are gold, they are not THAT expensive. Gold chains, rings, earrings etc, esp in 9 karat are quite reasonably priced.

    So, we do, today have a MASS of, let's still say, mostly women who have many reasonably priced gold items they wear every day and love.
    If you wish to buy them a little gift you know to get them something gold.
    Perhaps only $50 or $100 but it's the colour they love and want to wear.


    Here we have the Apple Gold Watch pricing issue.

    If the Gold watch is priced at say $1000 to $2000 (I expect $1500 - $1600 ish) then we probably just about, and only just don't have a problem.

    Even this is way way over budget, but still, it's not outside the realms of feasibility that you may buy your wife a $1500 watch for a birthday etc.

    However, if we start pushing up the prices into the regions some have speculated in the high thousands then you are more and more shutting the mass market out.

    This is absolutely fine, if you are offering an alternative.

    So, what do we have?

    Wife, Girlfriend, or a man of course. loves gold and they wear it all time, but they are a normal consumer with a normal budget.

    Apple is saying to them.

    Here, you can have Aluminium or Shiny Steel, but the gold look you love it not reachable for you, so forget that.

    This is where I struggle. If there was a gold plated version for the, typical consumer, and a solid gold version at the very high then, then fine.
    Totally fine, it's what other consumer watch makers do.
    There are some very lovely gold plated watches that would be totally out of reach if they were solid gold.

    Hence this long posting.......

    I have trouble, seeing Apple telling the mass market, the tens of millions of customers, most of which will be just normal working people, trying to make ends meet, perhaps with a family.

    You have Aluminium or Shiny Steel or you have nothing.

    Gold is out of your reach, and we are giving you nothing in the look you love and wear as an alternative.
    So you can wear your Gold ring, necklace, and earrings, and have a silver Apple Watch, as we have nothing else for someone like you.

    Let me say, I know there are people reading this with deep pockets of cash to throw at things like this, but, with due respect, you don't count. I'm speaking about the mass market.

    I struggle to think Apple want to do this, and basically tell all the normal, lets say women out there, they have nothing for them, it's silver look or nothing.

    Which is why I struggle a LOT with these high priced gold estimates.

    Personally I would like Apple to have been really clever with their case, make it of gold exactly as said, but used very clever techniques engineering wise, to reduce the amount of gold needed in the case to offer the mass market you wish to pay just that little bit more a Gold Watch.

    I may of course, be totally wrong here. But offering people who love and enjoy the look of gold nothing, would seem strange, esp as they are being shown in with all the, we assume affordable models.

    Phew... Got that off my chest :)
  2. Mascots macrumors 65832


    Sep 5, 2009
    I think you've posted longer ;)

    But I agree with you. I see a price around $1,500-$2,000 though (maybe even $2.5k, if that high), the higher end of your spectrum it sounds like. Didn't you price it around $1,200 of gold?

    At about $2k, it's attainable to the point that the majority of the market could spring for it, especially in the context of wedding, birthday, or anniversary gift and still earn that margin APPL loves.

    I also can't grasp the fact they could reliably span a technology product from $350 to the five-digits based on materials. It doesn't need to compete with Rolex or the higher end brands by price, there's no reason.
  3. TheDeviceUser macrumors 6502a

    Jul 20, 2014
    I agree. I just do not believe this is going to be many thousands. I think something around $1500. I think many of these prices have been put out to fuel speculation.

    Of course it's not going to be $10,000.
  4. Night Spring, Mar 1, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015

    Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    But gold color was only recently introduced for the iPhone and iPad -- I think the 5s was the first iOS device to come in gold? Or was it the 5? And iPad only got gold last year, with the Air2 and mini3. So maybe an aluminum gold-colored option for the Apple watch might show up a few years down the line. Rolling out all those different watch models -- I think with three models, two colors each model, and two sizes, that's twelve versions before we even start talking about the bands -- I don't blame it if even a supply chain wizard like Tim Cook balked at adding an additional color option the first year.

    By the way, if PIggie is right about the price of gold in the watch being $1200, then no way is Apple going to sell the watch for $1500, and $2000 is also unlikely. Because the price of gold fluctuates, so manufactures need to hedge the retail price up, in case the price of gold goes up. So I'm thinking the price of gold Apple watch has to be at least $2500.
  5. ButteryScrollin macrumors 6502a

    Jul 29, 2014
    The Sports watch is the mass market watch.
    Your estimated price is insanely low.

    It's like saying the Mac Pro should be the same price as a mini as Apple show them off together.
  6. JayLenochiniMac macrumors G5

    Nov 7, 2007
    New Sanfrakota
    Piggie, this is your own work:


    This doesn't even include the cost of 18K gold in the various Edition straps, which will be substantial. So you expect $1500-1600ish for the Edition models, meaning you're actually of the opinion that Apple will be happy to give them away for free or sell them at below cost?
  7. Piggie thread starter macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    Well, the 3D model I have shown, whilst I'm sure will be wrong in places, especially internally, though which as I said does not look like it should be a million miles out as it can't be a million miles out!

    That model, in 42mm would contain $1200 of 18K gold.

    So, given the sports watch is $349, let's say, the screen, battery, internals/sensor is $250 on it's own shall we?

    So, we have $1200 of gold, plus $250 for the guts, then lets say another $100 for swapping over the glass materials.

    $1550 we have then for an Gold edition with a Sports Strap.
    There looks like there is a gold button on the editions sports strap so throw on a bit for that.

    Add a little for gold fluctuation :)

    I think you can see the type of figure we are getting at here.

    Anything above this figure and we are leaving the realm of what it's worth/costs, and how much Apple simply wish to bump on top of it, in clean/sheer profit to bring it to a high end fashion item.

    As I said in my initial long posting :)
    My only issue with this is all the millions of loyal Apple consumers you are leaving behind.

    Now. My 3D model may be VERY wrong. The gold could be thinner, esp in some areas, there could be some gold cross beams in there to add strength so it could be less than $1200 of gold.
    It could be more, though I think it would be a struggle to get the gold up to the $2000 level without reducing internal space too much.


    I have this picture in my mind.

    I'm Tim Cook, sitting around the table :)
    We know we sell to tens of millions.
    We know the Gold iPhone and iPad have done really well since we introduced them, and proved popular, esp with the ladies :)

    We know we have a very high female customer base, must be tens of millions of women with iPhones, and as I say, gold jewellery.
    Not perhaps expensive gold as they are our normal consumers.
    But they love the look.

    And I sit down with my Apple team and decide we are not going to offer these tens of millions anything apart from silver matt aluminium or shiny steel.

    We are deciding we are going to price the only gold option, way way outside their budget and leave them with silver metal or nothing.

    I still struggle to understand why they would decide to do that.
    Given they know who their customer base is.


    Indeed, Any strap would be of course in addition to the cost of the body.

    As you rightly say, the price will alter by a fair amount based upon the strap option you wanted.

    Straps are very hard to calculate price wise.
    That model is just the body to give an indication, with guess work on the amount of metal it would take to create that form. give or take a bit.
  8. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    From the rumours Tim Cook and Jony Ives had a long discussion about whether they were going to make a watch that would be 'aspirational' or in other words out of the reach of the majority of their customers. They decided to do exactly that.
    Again the rumours suggest that the Edition watch will cost at least $1000 to make. The iPhone has a %200 mark up, I don't expect the edition watch to have less than that. So if it cost $1000 to make, I expect it to sell for around $3000. If it cost $1500 to make then $4500. It would not surprise me if it was more.
    This isn't going to be mass market, that's what the sport is for.
  9. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    An anodized aluminium cat gold version of the Watch would just serve to de-value the exclusiveness of the solid gold version, so I don't think they would spring for that, not now and not in X number of years.

    The gold Watch is as much, if not more, a piece of jewellry than anything else, just like any other gold timepiece. You can use a Rolex or Omega to tell the time of course, but that is not really its primary function. The watch is a statement that you (supposedly) have style and class, and above all, money to afford buying one of these things.

    Cheap jewellry is not appealing to most people with a bit of money to spend, so there's pressure to not price the gold Watch too low even though that functionally it is no different than any of the other, cheaper Watches.

    At the same time, gold watches in general are expensive because the intricate mechanics and workmanship that goes into their assembly and manufacture. The gold Watch has a nice polished solid gold case, but other gold watches have that too, along with all the other bits that make them little marvels of mechanical engineering. The gold Watch has none of that, its guts is the same as the $350 sports Watch with the rubber band and plastic backpiece. So it can't reasonably cost friggin ten thousand dollars (or more) either, regardless how big a hard-on for potential revenue certain analysts have when speculating about pricing for this thing.

    Also, this watch runs on electricity, from an integrated battery, and unlike traditional quartz wrist watches, there's no convenient way for end users to replace that battery. When it's worn out - then what? Most lithium batteries last a claimed 1000 charges or so, but of course the battery loses capacity constantly, and even faster the more you use/charge it, and the Watch reportedly needs daily charging. So 1000 cycles is less than three years. What kind of battery life will you have then, will the Watch still last a full day, or will it peter out and die on you in the middle of your afternoon run? That'd suck, if you'd paid $2000 for the gold version. Unless you're part of the 1% and laugh at such paltry expenses, but I'm assuming that most of us aren't. ;)

    Will Apple replace the battery for us, maybe for free under Applecare, or at least at a reasonable cost if we don't have coverage anymore? Or is the Watch sealed forever the moment the coverglass is glued into place, never to be opened again...? If the glass is epoxied into place it would be hella tough to get in, and not without leaving a lot of glue leftovers that would be pretty much impossible to remove...

    Hopefully answers to these questions will be had soon.
  10. Piggie thread starter macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    Don't get me wrong.

    I totally understand the concept of a very high end model to show off with.
    I get that, and it's always fun when a company goes to town with something high end as a symbol of the best a product can be.

    My issues is that, if this is the case with the Apple Watch.
    Apple are giving those, let's call them normal consumers, of which there are going to be tens of millions.


    The choice is, and personally, and I hope this does not come over as sexist :)
    The choice it, either you take the dull silver aluminium or shiny steel or your only option to get the colour you love is the model a million miles out of your price range.

    That to me seems a strange decision for a company such as Apple.

    Also, I do not buy the "gold plated devalues the solid gold model" argument.
    Other companies sell gold plated and solid gold at different price points for different customers.
    And if that was the case, no one would buy solid gold as everyone would be happy with plated.

    Perhaps I'm wrong here, but if it was me, I would want me normal, previous millions of Apple consumers to have the colour they loved at a price point that they could afford, even perhaps at a stretch, but still afford.

    $349 Spots
    $499 /$599 Stainless (guess)
    $5000+ Gold.

    The jump is too much IMHO.
  11. kaess macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2012
    Your analogy of comparing the Edition vs Sport to the Mac Pro vs Mac Mini is senseless. The Mac Pro has higher technical specs, features, and expandability than the Mac Mini. Thus far, Apple has not shown any technical or functional differences between the three watch variants. The watch's differentiators are size and materials. Such a large price difference as has been speculated (potentially $349 up to $10,000) based solely on materials/size is unprecedented for Apple. A better analogy would be comparing the plastic iPhone 5c to the aluminum iPhone 6; however, even that comparison has a technical spec difference to also justify a price spread.
  12. cleirac macrumors 6502

    May 7, 2014
    My thoughts: Less than 8 days to go and it will probably not resolve everything. This forum will have more elaborate speculations ; tldr posts of pretty much about anything.
  13. JayLenochiniMac macrumors G5

    Nov 7, 2007
    New Sanfrakota
    And Piggie will create even more pigsty :D
  14. bnorthro macrumors member

    Sep 2, 2010
    Apple is marketing this as a watch, not as a piece of tech. Don't expect it to be priced like a piece of tech where pricing tiers are based on features, expect it to be priced like a piece of jewelry. You will pay a premium for solid gold. Anyone expecting otherwise is delusional. You are not entitled to be able to afford the "color of your choice" because that color comes from a precious metal.

    By Piggy's own estimate, there are roughly $1500 worth of gold and componentry in the watch (I wouldn't be surprised if there is more gold, especially with the gold clasp). I would expect at least a 300% markup, so you're looking at $4,500 on the low side for the Edition. I would be EXTREMELY surprised if the Edition comes in under $5,000, and people are going to collectively lose their minds because that extra money only buys status and appearance, no additional features (aside maybe an upgrade plan).

    My estimates:
    Sport: $349
    Stainless: $749 with poly or strap
    Stainless: $999 with stainless band
    Edition: $7499 and sold through watch stores or high end department stores, maybe available as in-store pickup at Apple stores.

    Anyone who thinks the Edition is going to be less than $2,000 is delusional.
  15. bbeagle, Mar 1, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015

    bbeagle macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2010
    Buffalo, NY
    I completely disagree.

    If the watch costs ~ $350, gold costs ~ $1200, the watch will be $1599 - $1799. And the price will fluctuate based on the cost of gold. If it goes up, the price changes, if it goes down, the price changes. It's the way gold, silver, even lobster is priced.

    Except for the people who hate Apple, everyone knows Apple has NEVER charged a premium like $500 for 'no reason'. They won't start now, because nobody would pay that premium. Apple is smart, and will charge the most it can get for something which will also sell. They'll get too much bad press from something priced $2000 higher than it should be with NO benefits.

    The only way the watch is like $2499 is if the band included with it is much more expensive, like has diamonds, and there is Apple Care for free or some other exclusive benefits - free Apple tattoo performed immediately after purchase? :)
  16. Rogifan macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2011
    I guess it depends on who Apple's target audience is for the gold watch. Is it people with lots of disposable income who might not take the gold watch seriously unless it's really expensive? Or is it for a wider audience, still expensive because it's gold, but not completely unattainable?


    John Gruber is not backing off his price predictions at all. Which makes me think it's going to be very expensive and the price will shock people. I think using the luxury watch market for pricing is a mistake. If Apple goes that route I'd love to know who came up with the idea. Because if you take what we know about the Edition watch and apply iPhone like margins you don't get a $10K price.
  17. JayLenochiniMac macrumors G5

    Nov 7, 2007
    New Sanfrakota
    So you're saying Apple will give away $1200 worth of gold at cost, with no 2-3X markup typical of the jewelry industry?
  18. al256 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2001
    I believe Apple was content to do a late March, Apple Watch press event but Gruber ran his mouth off. They were forced to get ahead of his five figure predictions and commentary, espousing the Apple Watch Edition is not for you (the general public). Apple needs to control the message, the perception of their products.

    I've read so many posts on this forum to the point where I don't believe many can take a step back, and look at how un-luxurious the Edition is in comparison to other five figure watches. The Edition, which omits the "L" word, is a continuum of the Apple Watch line. People look at it and see luxury, I see a watch which barely stands out from the models that will eventually be sold at Wal-Mart. How is fluoroelastomer luxury? It's on all the models and only has the accent metal to match the model it's sold with. At least with a Rolex doesn't sell its products at Wal-Mart.

    With ultra-luxury comes exclusivity. I just don't see how you can position the Edition is an exclusive product for the wealthy. They all run the same chip, have the same screen, the bands are virtually the same. If Apple did limit productions, unique bands and something else to signal to the word or at least other knowledgable buyers that you purchased "that" watch then; they would be in the luxury market.
  19. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    "Nothing"? They get four case colors from two different sets of materials and more than a dozen strap variations to choose from. If a person who can't afford the gold version can't be satisfied with that, well, then they clearly shouldn't buy an :apple:Watch. :)

    I don't think there's tens of millions of people whose only possible choice out of a larger selection than any other smartwatch (and most regular watch) makers' selection is the most expensive, gold version. You don't see too many people complain that Rolls Royces are so expensive that they can't afford to buy a car. There are lots of OTHER car brands to choose from, at more reasonable prices.

    I think you'll find that in such watches there are other differentiators as well than just the case material. The solid gold watch would have more advanced mechanics with more advanced complications, better finish and workmanship in general, higher quality, more exclusive materials in the casing and straps, more intricate design of the face dials, engravings, maybe windows to show off the works, and so on.

    With :apple:Watch, the ONLY differential between versions is the casing. A gold plated Watch would look exactly like a solid gold Watch, and would for all intents BE a solid gold version, unless you took a key to it and gouged a nice fat scratch in it to check what's underneath the surface... Clearly this would undermine the reason for existence of the solid gold version.

    Anyway, just wait a bit and I'm sure you will be able to find aftermarket gold anodized Sport Watches...
  20. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I think Rose gold would be more popular with women than regular gold but many women love the white metals (silver, white gold, platinum). I mean in the jewelry arena, there are many manufacturers who have done very well by offering silver or a mix of silver and gold(rose, yellow). Tiffany's is one that comes to mind and it is very, very popular.

    While you may think women will be clamoring for an inexpensive gold watch, I just don't see it. I hardly see watches on women I know and when I do, even the ones with salaries in the millions/year, don't tend to wear gold watches.
  21. kmj2318 macrumors 68000


    Aug 22, 2007
    Naples, FL
    I think Apple is being smart getting into the very high end fashion business. The divide between rich and not-rich is larger than ever, and it will only grow. The middle class if shrinking too, so where should a company focus if it wants to be profitable? The rich, because they keep getting richer.

    I think companies that focus on the upper middle class, like Apple, or a company like Coach or Polo, will find themselves in a very tough spot I'd they don't successfully position themselves in the high end, especially because other companies are doing it well already.

    The days of the full time job with good salaries are coming to end. People will have to choose between being an entrepreneur or a low paid temp worker. The temp workers get paid just enough to get by, which isn't so bad given how cheaply tech has made entertainment. The successful ends will receive significant rewards because our economy is moving towards a winner take all type payout. Meaning that people are divided into very low disposable incomes, and nearly limitless disposable incomes, with nobody in between.

    We all know the middle class has been shrinking. Given that trend, what should a company like Apple do to protect itself in the future? They need to sell to someone, and Apple isn't looking to compete on price.

    Plus the rich make up so much of the wealth in the world. It's hard to even imagine how rich some people are. These people are not twice as rich as you, or even 10 times, try a factor of thousands. Enough to buy several for themself even if theyre not sure they'll wear them. Enough to give some to their whole family. Enough to pass them out in gift baskets to all their party guests. Yet Apple should cater to the people that have to save up for the base model?

    Apple would be stupid not to offer a several thousand dollar watch, that's leaving money on the table. A multimillionaire doesn't care about the price difference. If you sell them a $500 product when they would have just as easily bought a $5000 version if it was available, your sacrificing much profit. Businesses are catching on, in the last decade so many products have been introduced to sell to the ultra rich. Nearly every car company makes a supercar, when only a few used to. The same has happened with traditional high end watches.

    Despite this the Apple Watch is the most democratic product Apple has made. Because no matter how much you spend, you still get the same experience, the existence of the Edition doesn't penalize the lower end products.
  22. Piggie thread starter macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    Well, that seems to be, for now Apple's Attitude.

    Matt silver, or Shiny Silver
    Coloured Rubber, Leather or Silver metal bands.

    If you like gold, but don't have thousands to spend on a watch, which will be 95% of all customers.

    Then you can't have a gold look, tough luck.

    I find that odd.
  23. JayLenochiniMac macrumors G5

    Nov 7, 2007
    New Sanfrakota
    Not odd at all if Apple wants to be seen as a high-end fashion company, which is where they seem to be heading.
  24. Piggie thread starter macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    I'm not disagreeing there should be a high end high price solid gold model.

    Also it does not matter if 5% of the population own 95% of the wealth.
    They are only going to buy 1 watch.

    Apple wants numbers.

    You make a high end product, very expensive, and you sell a few as status symbols, almost advertising. but that's not where the mass money comes from.

    I'm fine with everything. Even a $10,000 solid gold watch, that is fine.

    I am simply saying it feels odd to not offer the "gold look" to anyone who cannot afford say $10,0000

    There are hundreds of millions of potential customers around the world who love the gold look, but can't afford $10,000 and you will miss out on all of them.

    Sure as eggs are eggs. Other Smartwatch brands will come along with far more affordable gold / gold plated smart watches to appeal to those customers.

    It's all very well, being high end, and win the battle, but is it worth it if you lose the war?

    Apple will have enough of a problem as it is with being an iPhone only accessory, that's big enough negative on it's own, without also shutting out the bulk of the population who may want to go out and buy a gold watch, but Apple's model is too expensive so they buy another brand.


    But it isn't :D

    And you can't just make that happen overnight.
  25. Rogifan macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2011
    Why does Apple need a 3x mark-up like the jewelry industry? I'm sure Apple would love to upsell people away from the Sport watch. Will be tough to do if the SS watch is so much more expensive. And if the gold watch is Rolex territory then that will basically suck all the oxygen out of the room. The media won't be talking about features they'll be obsessing over the price of the gold watch to the point where people who haven't been following might think the gold watch is the only watch Apple is selling.

Share This Page