1. Apple Inc’s Watch release: Where to try on gold watch

Apple Inc’s Watch release: Where to try on gold watch

Watch cases are made with 18-karat gold alloys, and some of the pricier models have special band options unavailable with other models.

By: | Updated: April 11, 2015 10:43 AM
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A customer looks over an Apple Watch in Palo Alto, California April 10, 2015. Customers flocked to Apple Inc’s stores around the world on Friday to get their first close-up look at the company’s smartwatch. (Reuters)

Watch cases are made with 18-karat gold alloys, and some of the pricier models have special band options unavailable with other models.

All Apple stores will have these luxury versions on display, but only a handful let customers try them on. In the U.S., 21 stores will make them available for try-ons, including three in New York City. That’s out of 265 U.S. stores.

Edition is available in 34 stores outside the U.S., including three non-Apple department stores with sections dedicated to Apple Watch.

If you’re left-handed you might wonder how you’re going to wear the watch. The models being shown in stores during try-on appointments are running in demonstration mode, designed for the right-handed majority to wear on their left hands with the button and dial to the right of the watch face.

But If you’re a leftie, you will be able to set up your watch to basically wear it upside down on your right hand, so the button and dial are on the left. When you do that, the screen will flip the right way _ similar to your phone screen.

Celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, Carol and Jack Weber came to New York from their Charlottesville, Virginia, home to buy gifts for each other. Jack woke up at 3 a.m. to order a $1,000 stainless steel model online and the retired University of Virginia professors were first in line for a 9 a.m. appointment at the 5th Avenue store.

Ushered into a small, separate room to try on special edition watches that cost as much as $17,000, Carol tried on a $15,000, 18-karat gold model that Jack thought would be nice to buy for their golden anniversary. Carol also liked the steel, though, since it would go with her white gold wedding ring. She hasn’t decided which to get yet, but is leaning toward both.

Carol said she likes the idea of getting a watch more than a piece of jewelry “because it’s so functional as well.” She’s not worried about getting the first edition of such a new piece of technology, and says she’s not a high-tech user, so she’ll be content with the current apps and other functions.

Apple’s early advertising promoted the watch as a fashion accessory, with elegant design and numerous options in watch faces, bands and other features. But the company is also emphasizing the new technology it’s developed, including the ‘tapping’ feature that signals alerts and messages, and new apps specifically designed for the watch’s relatively small screen.

Software apps and Internet services were a vital part of the iPhone’s success, and Apple has made sure the new watch will have a wide range of apps available from the start. Along with a host of Apple-designed apps, such as Maps, Mail, Siri and Apple Pay, watch owners will be able to download numerous apps developed by outside companies.

Several media companies have developed apps to provide headlines and quick news updates for the Apple Watch. These include news outlets like CNN, NPR and the New York Times, along with the sports-focused ESPN and MLB.com. The Times promises one-sentence articles “crafted specially” for the watch, along with photographs and “short, bulleted summaries” of news developments.

Travel and transportation information will be available through apps developed by the car-hailing service Uber, mapping services like CityMapper and Go, and travel booking services such as TripAdvisor and Expedia. Travelers can check their flights on an American Airlines app or unlock their door with a Starwood Hotels app that turns the watch into a wireless room key. An app from Babbel promises to help wearers learn new words in foreign languages.

Not surprisingly, given the popularity of fitness wristbands, a number of apps are promising to help watch-owners track their health and exercise routines. Apps from Nike, Strava and Runtastic are all designed to measure workouts and physical exertion. An app called Tensio will help owners monitor their blood pressure.

If you don’t like your watch, the standard 14-day return policy applies in most cases.Most Apple Watches come with Apple’s standard warranty _ one year for hardware, plus 90 days of free telephone support. For luxury editions, you get two years of hardware repairs and telephone support.

Extended coverage is available through AppleCare _ $49 for the cheapest “Sport” version, $69 for the regular edition and $1,500 for the luxury version, known as Edition. For Sport and regular editions, the coverage gets you two years of repairs and support, including what comes with the warranty. With the luxury version, it’s three years.

In all cases, you’re also protected from two incidents of accidental damage, though you’re charged a service fee each time _ $69 for Sport, $79 for the regular version and $1,000 for the luxury edition. The regular warranty typically doesn’t cover repairs when it’s your fault.

You have 60 days after buying the watch to sign up for AppleCare.

Mark Servidio was online in New York at 3 a.m. to order two Apple Watches _ Sport models with black bands in large for him and small for his wife. Six hours later, he was at the 9 a.m. opening of the Apple store on New York’s Upper East Side.

The 30-year-old software developer wanted to check out what he just paid $349 and $399 for. He’d booked an afternoon appointment, but he decided to try out his luck after seeing there was hardly a line. Store employees were able to accommodate him quickly.

Servidio ended up trying some of the models he didn’t buy, just to see what they’d feel like. An employee explained some features, though the watches Servidio was allowed to try on were all running in demonstration mode.

Servidio admits he doesn’t really need an Apple Watch. But he’s curious about what it can do and thinks it might make checking messages and other notifications less intrusive than pulling out his phone.

“Our view is it’s going to take time for the consumer to adopt wearable technology,” Zino said in an interview. “We’re very positive on the long-term trends for wearables and we think Apple is going to be a clear leader in the category.” He thinks initial sales are going to be below expectations, though.

Because the smartwatch is a new category of product, Apple will have to work harder to show customers what it can do, Zino says. The company is encouraging customers to make appointments to try the watch and some of its features, before ordering it online. That’s a departure from its approach to the iPhone and iPad, which have been sold on a first-come, first-served basis to customers who often line up at Apple stores on the first day those products are available.

‘They had to change their sales strategy,” Zino said of the watch. “It’s not a standardized product, so you need to make consumers aware of the customization that’s available, and you can’t take the approach you’ve taken with other products.”

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