The new Apple Watch comes in a variety of materials and price points, including a gold Edition case that retails for a minimum of $10,000. Apple also makes a variety of bands, including a stainless steel link bracelet that led many to anticipate that there would be a solid gold link bracelet to go with the gold case and reach an ultra-high price point. Yet when Apple unveiled its product lineup early this month, there was no gold link bracelet to be found.
And yet here's a photo posted to Instagram by Karl Lagerfeld's assistant that appears to show the designer wearing a solid gold link bracelet (via MacRumors):
One possibility is that this is a prototype model that Apple sketched out but decided that they couldn't produce at sufficient scale to bring to market. Or maybe it represents something they're working on but are planning to release when the market for smartwatches is more established and the company has a better sense of whether bands will be re-usable on future iterations of the watch.
But here's one hilarious angle John Gruber noted — Lagerfeld hasn't bothered to set up his five-figure watch: "the screen that's shown here is the setup screen for pairing with your iPhone. You point your iPhone's camera at your watch on this screen and it figures out which way it's oriented, and boom, they're paired."
That's a powerful reminder that the market for consumer electronics and the market for high-end jewelry are quite different in some fundamental ways.
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like," Steve Jobs famously said, "design is how it works."
Job's dictum is a very nice idea, but pretty clearly hasn't been true of the luxury watch market for the past thirty years or so. Mechanical watches are not as good at keeping accurate time as cheaper quartz alternatives, and high-end materials like gold have no utilitarian virtues as watch components. The design of a solid gold watch really is about looking like you're wearing a bunch of gold on your wrist, and nothing to do with how anything works. Under the circumstances, a watch that actually doesn't work — like Lagerfeld's not-yet-setup Apple Watch Edition — is about as good as any other.