If you want to buy an Apple Watch, be sure to make a reservation.
Apple will start selling its first wearable, which costs from $349 to $17,000, on April 24. Preorders begin at 12:01 a.m. PT on April 10, and consumers will be able to try on the device in stores starting that day.
But you won't be able to walk into a store to purchase an Apple Watch like you can with the iPhone and iPad. Instead, all sales will be made through a reservation system, Apple confirmed Friday. And that's true for the indefinite future. Apple has no plans at this time to allow you to stop into a store and walk out with an Apple Watch, even after the device officially hits the market.
You also can't just walk up to a table and try out whatever Apple Watch you want. Instead, you have to meet with a store representative for a fitting, which you set up through an appointment or by being lucky enough to visit an Apple Store during a lull.
That all means there won't be the long lines common with every iPhone launch over the past few years. The only Apple Watches that will be available for purchase in retail stores are the devices that have been reserved online.
For consumers who reserve the smartwatch for in-store pickup on Day 1, be sure to know exactly which model, finish and band you want. It's possible all devices available that day will be reserved in advance, so there probably won't be additional inventory on hand to alter your order if you change your mind. Consumers will be able to order the device online, though, and have it shipped to their homes. Apple's app about Apple Watch lets you check out the different models, see what the different sizes look like on your wrist and explore features, making it easier to purchase online without having actually seen the device in person.
The move to offer Apple Watch only by reservation is likely for two reasons -- making sure Apple has the right inventory on hand for what consumers want and being able to walk through the process with potential buyers when they come into the store. Apple Watch is different from any other device the Cupertino, Calif., company has ever sold. There are more options to choose from, and Apple Watch is a more personal, fashion-centric device. Because it's a new product, Apple wants to make sure consumers are comfortable with their choices and understand how the device works before they walk out of the store.
The Apple Watch comes in two sizes -- 42mm or 38mm -- and three designs -- the aluminum-cased Apple Watch Sport, stainless-steel-cased Apple Watch and the 18-karat-gold-cased Apple Watch Edition. The aluminum comes with silver or space gray options, while the stainless steel comes in its namesake color or a space black version. The gold watch is available in 18-karat yellow gold or 18-karat rose gold. There also are a variety of bands that can be easily swapped, including a Milanese loop of metal mesh with magnets, a leather band that auto-attaches, a segmented metal link band, a classic leather watchband, a leather loop band, and a more plasticized sport band in bright colors.
The entry-level device, the aluminum and glass Apple Watch Sport with plastic band, starts at $349. The premium gold Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000 and goes as high as $17,000.