The larger model of the Apple Watch Series 8, due to launch later this year, is rumored to feature a titanium case, raising questions about the future of the Apple Watch Edition.
Yesterday, BloombergMark Gurman reported that the new, larger Apple Watch model due out this year will have a case made from “a more durable titanium formulation to make it extra tough.”
Apple has offered a titanium version of the Apple Watch since the launch of the Apple Watch Series 5 in 2019 under the Apple Watch Edition brand. Currently, the Apple Watch Edition comes with an additional Sport Band and while it offers a lighter, stronger case than the stainless steel model, it’s otherwise identical to the standard Apple Watch.
Now, a multitude of rumors are pointing to the launch of a brand new high-end Apple Watch model later this year. The device is expected to feature a larger display, longer battery life, a durable body, and an all-new design. Possible names for the device are “Apple Watch Pro” or “Apple Watch Explorer Edition,” and the device has been associated with extreme athletes, athletes, hikers, and other users who need a more durable watch.
Starting at $749, the current Apple Watch Edition is $150 more expensive than the stainless steel Apple Watch. For this year’s new high-end Apple Watch, Gurman has priced it “starting closer to $900 to $999,” positioning it above the Apple Watch Edition.
Overall, it seems clear that the new high-end Apple Watch will be more of a departure from the standard Apple Watch models in terms of features, size, design and price than any previous Apple Watch Edition model. This raises the question of whether Apple will continue to offer the Apple Watch Edition after the launch of the new high-end Apple Watch later this year.
The Apple Watch Edition has evolved significantly since its launch in 2015. When it first launched, the Apple Watch Edition line consisted entirely of Apple Watches with 18k yellow or rose gold cases, ranging from $10,000 to $17,000. These were discontinued just a year later with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 2, which replaced the expensive gold cases with more affordable white ceramic models, starting at $1,249.
A gray ceramic variant was added in 2017 with the Apple Watch Series 3. While no Apple Watch Edition models were available for the Series 4, Apple has revived the white ceramic Apple Watch Edition line for the Series 5 alongside new natural and space black titanium models. With the Series 6, Apple once again discontinued the ceramic Apple Watch Edition, again briefly discontinuing the line ahead of the introduction of the titanium Apple Watch Edition Series 7 models last year.
With the Apple Watch Edition having such a tumultuous history, it’s by no means certain that Apple will continue to offer the device. With the titanium case being the key differentiator of the Apple Watch Edition, it’s hard to see how the variant in the lineup could be justified with a significantly different titanium model directly above it, not least because the Apple Watch Edition could pull sales off the new high- end model.
Earlier this month, display analyst Ross Young said the new high-end Apple Watch is expected to sell in comparatively small numbers — just like previous reports of low sales for the Apple Watch Edition models due to their high price point. Apple reportedly expects to ship just one million units of the larger Apple Watch in the third quarter of this year, compared to four million 45mm Apple Watch Series 8 models.
Pricing and market positioning aside, Gurman’s confirmation of a titanium case for this year’s new high-end Apple Watch model is the best indication yet that Apple may be planning to effectively expand the current Apple Watch Edition line into this new product category integrate. This would allow it to continue to offer a titanium case but more clearly emphasize the material’s weight and strength advantages, while emphasizing durability at a higher price point.
Keeping the cheaper titanium Apple Watch Edition in the range could also have the undesirable effect of cannibalizing sales of the new high-end model. Likewise, the new high-end Apple Watch could be much more appealing to some customers than the Apple Watch Edition, as sensible differentiators such as display size, battery life, and design offer more valid reasons for an upsale.
With names like Apple Watch “Pro” far from being locked in at this point in the rumor cycle, it’s also worth noting that the new high-end Apple Watch models could simply form the Apple Watch Edition line going forward. At least it looks like the Apple Watch Edition line won’t be around for much longer in its current form.