The larger Apple Watch Series 8 model expected to arrive later this year is rumored to feature a titanium casing, raising questions about the future of the Apple Watch Edition.
Yesterday, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reported that the new, larger Apple Watch model scheduled to launch this year will feature a casing made of “a more durable formulation of titanium to make it extra rugged.”
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 casing than the stainless steel model, it is otherwise identical to the standard Apple Watch.
Now, a wide range of rumors point towards the launch of an all-new high-end Apple Watch model later this year. The device is expected to feature a larger display, longer battery life, a ruggedized casing, and a completely new design. Potential names for the device include “Apple Watch Pro” or “Apple Watch Explorer Edition,” and the device has been associated with extreme sports, athletes, hikers, and other users who require a more durable watch.
Priced 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 floated a price point that “starts 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 than any previous Apple Watch Edition model in terms of features, size, design, and price. 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 considerably since its launch in 2015. When it was first launched, the Apple Watch Edition line was exclusively made up of Apple Watches with 18 karat yellow or rose gold casings that cost $10,000 to $17,000. These were discontinued just a year later upon the launch of the Apple Watch Series 2, which replaced the expensive gold casings with more affordable white ceramic models, starting at $1,249.
A gray ceramic variant was added with the Apple Watch Series 3 in 2017. While there were no Apple Watch Edition models available for the Series 4, Apple 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 again discontinued the ceramic Apple Watch Edition, and briefly discontinued the line once again ahead of the launch of the titanium Apple Watch Edition Series 7 models last year.
Since the Apple Watch Edition has such a tumultuous history, it is by no means certain that Apple will continue to offer the device. With its titanium casing being the Apple Watch Edition’s key differentiating feature, it is difficult to see how the variant could be justified in the lineup with a substantially different titanium model placed just above it, not least because the Apple Watch Edition could draw sales away from the new high-end model.
Earlier this month, display analyst Ross Young said that the new high-end Apple Watch is expected to sell in comparatively low volume – just like previous reports of low sales for the Apple Watch Edition models due to their high price point. Apple is purportedly expecting 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.
Beyond pricing and positioning in the market, Gurman’s confirmation of a titanium casing for this year’s new high-end Apple Watch model is the best indication yet that Apple may be planning to effectively fold the current Apple Watch Edition line into this new product category. This would allow it to continue to offer a titanium casing, but more overtly tout the weight and strength advantages of the material amid a focus on durability at a higher price point.
Leaving the more affordable titanium Apple Watch Edition in the lineup could also have the unwanted 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, with meaningful differentiating aspects like display size, battery life, and design providing more justifiable reasons for an upsale.
With names like Apple Watch “Pro” being far from locked-in at this stage of the rumor cycle, it is 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 in its current form may not be around for much longer.