Apple has installed new safes in their Australian stores and beefed up security, in preparation for the sale of an $11,000 18-carat gold, sapphire and crystal watch.
The device which will be launched on Tuesday morning Australian time is Apple’s most expensive product since the $10,000 Lisa computer in 1983, developed by Steve Jobs.
Several companies have been given secret early access to the Apple Watch in order to test their new apps before launch, according to reports.
Staff from BMW, Facebook and United have spent several weeks at Apple’s California headquarters polishing new apps which will be released on the platform when the Watch is officially launched on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.
But measures to protect secrecy around the hardware are strong and strict: according to reports the companies are sharing rooms inside Apple’s Cupertino campus, no outside materials are allowed to be brought in – not even a pen and paper – and there is no internet access.
Source code for their apps is brought in on hard disks which cannot be taken away from the campus. Apple will send the code back to companies at a closer to launch, the source claimed.
The device which will be unveiled by chief executive Tim Cook, is the first new innovation to come from Apple since Jobs died in 2011. There will also be a cheapie model for around $450.
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Analysts have branded the move a clear attempt to segway Apple into Asia’s booming luxury goods market – and suggest it could be the start of an entirely new market for Apple who is now generating billions in sales out of the Chinese market.
‘Apple is the only technology brand that has the potential to move from tech brand to luxury brand. This is unprecedented,’ Jan Dawson, chief technology analyst for Jackdaw Research said recently.
‘I think this is Apple flexing its muscles, moving into a space that it potentially has all to itself. ‘The question is: how big is that market? Is Apple eating into the market or making it bigger?
‘I think they will make it grow.’
Cook is expected to explain in detail how customers will use the buttons on the side of the device to operate the apps on the screen like an iPhone.
Scott Browning who recently quit as Marketing Director at JB Hi Fi said “Tech is now becoming all about fashion and smart devices and Apple will do well in this space”.
“Consumers want smart fashionable tech he said”.
The move into this market comes months after Apple poached Burberry’s CEO Angela Ahrendts to be the new Senior Vice President of retail and sales – and lend a fashionable eye.
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Alongside Yves Saint Laurent’s Paul Deneve, as a ‘special projects’ Vice President, and designer Marc Newson, as a part-time consultant, the team has masterminded the firm’s unprecedented move into fashionable watches.
Wearables: Analysts say the shift into wearables will be a major breakthrough for the firm who is targeting growth markets such as China.
In October, a prototype of the Edition Watch even appeared at Paris Fashion Week.
However, some have speculated that without a solid grounding in the high-end retail market, the Apple Edition Watch could suffer the same flaws as most iPhones, which cease to efficiently function after a few years.
But according to Thoma? Serdari, Luxury Brand Strategist and Lecturer at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York, the details of the Edition model that have been released look promising.
She told DailyMail.com: ‘Apple produces good design, and I hate to say it but good design is priceless.
‘From what I have seen, the gold watch has a very elegant profile. The very slight curve shows that the design has been very well studied to fit on your wrist. I am curious to see how it actually feels.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if customers have the option of keeping the strap and the casing but updating the software, which would create loyalty and longevity.’
Serdari, who also lectures on product and fashion design at NYU, notes that Apple is following the classic launch strategy of designer brands like Chanel, which uses pricing to carve a position in the market.
‘Chanel targets a broad market and in order to maintain the air of luxury increases the prices often very steeply.
Apple employees to get free Apple Watch?
While in Berlin recently, Cook was asked if Apple Store employees would be given Apple Watches to wear, at least while on duty — similar to when the company gifted all its employees with iPhones in 2007 — with Cook saying only “you’ve given me something to think about … I think [all our employees] should use our products.” He promised to give the idea further consideration, saying “I’ve got some more plane rides to think about it on.”
Cook also elaborated a bit on earlier comments about Apple Pay outside the US, saying it was a “global” program, and that “we want it everywhere.” He also noted that it would “take a little bit of time to [implement worldwide] … we want to be in Europe generally this year. I don’t know if we will make it, I think we will. It’s our intention to get here as fast as we can.”