Five thousand dollars for a smart watch? When it comes to the high-end luxury edition of the Apple Watch that could actually be the starting price -- at least according to one analyst.
Apple is expected to finally reveal some of the details of its Apple Watch on Monday, including the price and release date. The company's first smart watch will be available in three versions: Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition. We already know that the entry-level Sport model will start at $349 in the United States, but Apple hasn’t said anything about the prices of the other two models.
In an investors note released earlier this week, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said he expects that the price for the Sport model to reach as high as $450 if it comes with the top case and storage options. The mid-tier Apple Watch could start anywhere from $499 to $549 and likely come closer to an average selling price of $650. The top-of-the-line Apple Watch Edition?
Don’t be surprised if it starts at $4,999 and even reaches $7,500 with the most expensive bands, according to Munster. That prediction is in line with that of Apple observer John Gruber, who predicted the cost of the high-end version last September.
We reached out to J.P. Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst who covers wearables for Forrester, who told us a $5,000 smart watch, sold in limited numbers, might appeal to the consumer who doesn’t mind spending big bucks for exclusivity.
"Vertu and Lamborghini sell $5,000 Android smartphones, but they're not for scale," he said. "They're to create a halo around their products and to perhaps get photos of Kim Kardashian using their phones in tabloids."
The smart watch market has entries from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Sony, Pebble and others, so Apple will have plenty of company. Its offering will be part smart watch and part fitness and activity tracker. By offering the watch in a luxury edition, Apple is also presenting it as a piece of fine jewelry to further distinguish it from rival products.
In his report, Munster estimated 8 million in unit sales this year, compared with Wall Street forecasts of 14 million. He said he expects the entry-level Sport edition to account for around 55 percent of all units sold this year, and the Apple Watch to contribute around 45 percent -- leaving a small but perhaps lucrative market for the deluxe edition.
Expensive Bands, Too
Apple will offer interchangeable bands for each of its watches, a factor that will determine their ultimate prices. Munster said he believes the elastomer bands for the Apple Watch Sport will range in price from $29 to $39. Leather bands could be priced from $49 to $59. Steel bands could run around $99. And the gold bands for the higher-end edition may run into the thousands of dollars.
"Rolex sells watches for more than $5,000, but those are investments; they can be bequeathed to your children," said Gownder. "I would think the chance is reasonable that there would be $5,000 Apple Watches, but very few of them -- they would be designed to drive interest among elite trendsetters."