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Apple Watch: $17,000 smartwatch is obsolete after latest update

The gold smartwatches caused controversy and confusion when they were first released

Andrew Griffin
in California
Wednesday 06 June 2018 02:39 BST
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Apple's famously expensive, gold Apple Watch is now out of date, just a couple of years after people were buying them for more than $10,000.

As part of a whole suite of upgrades to its products, Apple just unveiled watchOS 5, the new version of its software for its smartwatch. And it won't work on the original version of the Apple Watch.

Some of those original smartwatches were the famous Apple Watch Edition models. Those watches – which came in gold or rose gold, and started at $10,000 but could be bought for even more than that – were famously costly as a result of the rare metals used to make their cases.

The price tag and the luxury approach of the new watch drew numerous questions at the time, since they were by far the most expensive customer product that Apple had ever made. Though the watches were in line with much of the rest of the luxury watch industry, many commentators noted that those watches were often explicitly pitched as lasting for generations.

By contrast, the Apple Watch Edition first went on sale in 2015, and now cannot support the latest version of Apple's software. While it and other first generation watches will continue to work, it is now officially obsolete and won't receive the latest updates or any more to follow.

It is not clear how many of the original Edition watches were sold. They were spotted on the wrists of a number of notable figures – including some like Beyonce and Karl Lagerfeld who received custom golden bands – but sales are thought to be eclipsed by the cheaper aluminium and steel versions of the Watch.

Apple still carries the Edition range of its watch. But they are now made out of ceramic, and are far cheaper: they start at $1,299, around a tenth of the price of the original watches.

The Apple Watch has undergone a range of changes in the three hardware updates and four product updates that have been released since it arrived. When those gold watches first appeared, most of the work done by Watch apps was really done on the iPhone, but Apple has gradually moved much of the processing onto the smartwatch itself.

Until Apple discontinued new updates for the Watch, developers were required to ensure that their apps worked with all of the models of Apple Watch that had been released. That might mean constraining the amount of processing power or battery they required, for instance, since the original watches were much slower and lost charge far more quickly.

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