The Watch has been [Apple COO Jeff] Williams’s biggest test. Months before the first model’s release in 2015, some employees testing the device began having allergic reactions to the type of nickel used in its casing, a not-uncommon issue with wristwear. Williams made the call to scrap thousands of Watches the company had already produced and ramp up a separate manufacturing line with a different kind of nickel. Employees also noticed that the “taptic engine,” a Williams priority that allows the Watch to vibrate more quietly than a typical phone part when it receives notifications, was prone to long-term failure from corrosion. Again, Williams decided not to send out a few thousand Watches that were affected. Employees got them instead.
These choices spared many early adopters from getting defective early models of the Apple Watch. They also helped make the watch tough to find in stores for months after its official release, and some online shipments were delayed, too. When customers could find some, they might be the Watch models shipped with 18-karat gold cases, which cost as much as $17,000—conceivable for wealthy Rolex fans, but a poor investment given that Apple’s model would be obsolete in a few years.
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.
MacDailyNews Take: The Apple Watch Edition (AWE) was intended to do just that: Awe. It was free publicity and it set the bar to where the likes of Samsung, Pebble, Fitbit, etc. could never hope to reach. AWE set Apple Watch above and apart. It was a loss leader manufactured not to sell itself, but to set the stage for “Apple Watch,” to make it immediately aspirational, and to help launch the sales millions of “regular” models. AWE did its job just fabulously. Those “tens of thousands” of initial sales (which included many strategic Apple handouts to celebrities and influencers) were just icing on the cake.
[Attribution: MacRumors. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]