Everything you need to know before buying an Apple Watch

After years of rumor and speculation about an “iWatch”, Apple’s first true wearable technology, the Apple Watch (Watch), is finally here. It is not my intention to sell you an Apple Watch, or even to sell you on the idea of an Apple Watch. Nor do I intend to convince you that you need yet another piece of personal technology to alternately amaze and distract you. Presuming that you’ve already decided to purchase one, this article will help you choose the one that is right for you, and your wallet. With three complete collections, each offering variations in size, color, and strap, there are hundreds of combinations, making this the most customizable of any product Apple has yet released. The prices reflect this, ranging from $349 on the low-end, to $17,000 for the most expensive!

The Apple Watch is available in three

The Apple Watch is available in three “Collections”

Regardless of the model you choose (or the amount you pay), all of the watches are exactly the same on the inside, containing the same electronics, the same 8GB hard drive, and have the same capabilities. The differences which affect the price are for the most part superficial. The three major factors that will determine the cost of your watch are: the size, the materials used on the outer casing, and the watchband.

Size
The Apple Watch itself comes in two sizes: 38mm and 42mm. This refers to the size of the watch face, measured diagonally like a TV screen. The size of the watch will affect the price. On the low-end the difference between the 38 and the 42 is only $50. On the high-end, the larger watch face will add $2,000 to the price. I recommend trying one on before deciding which size is best for you. Any Apple Store will be happy to accommodate you. Now that the furor has died down a bit, you shouldn’t need to make an appointment but can just walk in.

The 38mm Apple Watch Sport in Space Gray compared to the 42mm size.

The 38mm as compared to the 42mm size.

Materials
Apple has divided it’s watches into three distinct price tiers, or “Collections” defined by the materials used in the outer casing and the compatible bands. Most of these materials, from the glass used on the cheapest watch, to the gold on the most expensive, is a new substance developed by Apple. The three collections are explained, from the cheapest to the most expensive.

The Watch Sport with Silver Aluminum Case and Green Band

The Watch Sport w/ Silver Aluminum Case & Green Band

Watch Sport
Starting at $349 for the 38 mm model, the cheapest of all the Apple watches is made of an anodized aluminum, with a display protected by Ion-X glass. The watch itself comes in two colors, silver or “space gray” (a matte charcoal color). The sport band, made of a custom high-performance fluoroelastomer, comes in five colors: White, Blue, Green, Pink, and Black. The color of the watch is determined by the color of the band that you select. Choose the black band, and you get the space gray watch. All other bands come with the silver watch.

The Watch with Stainless Steel Case and Brown Leather Loop

The Watch w/ Stainless Steel Case & Brown Leather Loop

Watch
The mid-range offering is made of stainless steel with a polished sapphire crystal. It is available in two colors: steel or space black. The Apple Watch starts at $549 for the 38mm ($599 for the 42mm), and comes with the same fluoroelastomer band as the sport. Unlike the sport however, there is a choice of band styles as well as colors (20 models in all), which can cause the price to vary considerable. For example choosing the Space Black Stainless Steel Link Bracelet will add $500 to the final price.

18-Karat Gold Case with Bright Red Modern Buckle

18-Karat Gold Case with Bright Red Modern Buckle

Watch Edition
This is the top tier of Apple Watch which begins at $10,000, and is made of 18-Karat gold. This is not ordinary gold, but Apple’s own alloy which is twice as strong as regular gold, a soft metal. Apple has not only made gold stronger, but has created a patented pink hued “rose gold”. The $10,000 watch comes with the fluoroelastomer band. Other choices of band can add as much as $7,000 to the final price.

Bands
The watchband itself will affect the price of the watch more than any other factor. Apple has created six different interchangeable straps:

Stainless Steel Link Bracelet with custom Butterfly Closure

Stainless Steel Link Bracelet w/ custom Butterfly Closure

The Sport Band

The Leather Loop

The Milanese Loop

The Leather Modern Buckle

The Leather Classic Buckle

and The Stainless Steel Link Bracelet

Each of these bands is innovative in it’s own right, from the leather loop, which combines traditional materials with a revolutionary clasp design, to entirely new materials such as the fluoroelastomer sport band. I particularly like the Milanese Loop, which is made of a sort of magnetic chain mail. Although all of these are available for purchase online, I would recommend trying one on before you invest in a $7,000 watch band.

Protecting your investment with AppleCare
One more consideration when purchasing your watch is AppleCare Plus. The basic warranty for the Watch Sport covers manufacturer’s defects for one year, and provides 90 days of telephone tech-support. AppleCare Plus increases this to two years for both for only $49. This will expand the coverage beyond manufacturer’s defects to cover impact and water damage, even if you are at fault. This same coverage for the mid-range Watch is $69. The Watch Edition comes complete with a limited 2 year warranty and 2 years of tech support. $1,500 increases both to 3 years.

Apple’s Return Policy
Once you’ve purchased your Apple Watch, you can keep it for up to 14 days and still return it for a full refund. This gives you the opportunity to try it out and get a feel for it before you commit.

Money Saving Tip
When you buy online standard shipping is free, however you will be charged sales tax based on which city and state you have it shipped to. If you intend to purchase the $17K Watch Edition, sales tax alone could be more than $1,600! Some states, such as Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon, have no sales tax at all. When you buy an Apple product online or by telephone, you can arrange for an in-store pickup, sometimes on the same day, depending on availability. Therefore it may be in your best interest to purchase your watch by phone, and pick it up at an Apple Store in a neighboring city or state. You could cover your trip, and still save a considerable amount of money.

For more information on personal technology, and for classes and private lessons on the Apple Watch, and other Apple devices, visit www.gerardist.com/education

Watch the short Apple produced film “Introducing The Apple Watch” narrated by Senior Design VP, Jony Ive.

Shop for an Apple Watch online at: www.apple.com/watch/buy/

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