Apple’s $17,000 Watch Seems to Be Vanishing From Its Site

Some think the tech giant is exiting the luxury market

Rolex can relax. The 18k gold Apple Watch Edition, Apple’s much-heralded highly priced foray into the luxury watch market, is now being downplayed on the tech giant’s site, leading some tech blogs to speculate Apple has lost interest in the high-end timepiece.

As first spotted by 9to5Mac:

Apple has quietly revamped the Apple Watch section of its website, rendering the Edition almost invisible unless you specifically go looking for it. In addition, we’re hearing reports that Apple’s most expensive Watch is also being removed from some retail store displays.

How hidden? Well, you can’t find it on the watch’s home page or interactive gallery. In the past, it was on both (see here and here). 9to5Mac further notes its Personalization page “seemingly denies the existence of the Edition, stating that there are just two materials to choose from, not three.”

If you search, you can still find the Edition, including on the watch Buy page. But there are scattered indications that Apple may be less interested in the top end of the watch market:

– The Edition was not updated recently, while both its Sport and mid-range models were.

– Patrick Pruinaux, the former TAG Heuer exec Apple seemingly poached to sell the watch to high-end retailers, is now country director of the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to his LinkedIn profile.

– The Edition no longer has prominence on the sites of the two nonelectronics retailers to carry it: L.A. boutique Maxfield and London Jewelers.    

To be fair, Apple’s other foray into high-end fashion—its collaboration with Hermès—is still featured. But the 18k Apple Watch was always an odd (if intriguing) idea, given that smartwatches are constantly updated, while luxury watches are designed to be timeless. There was some speculation that Apple could make the high-end version endlessly updatable through trade-ins, but that never happened.

One irony here: Traditional watch brand TAG Heuer is apparently doing well with its smartwatch, which, according to the brand’s head Jean-Claude Biver, has not only become a surprise hit but made the brand seem “cool.” Patrick Pruinaux, phone home.

(Photo courtesy of Apple)

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