Apple coveted gold “Edition” version of the Apple Watch will cost $US10,000 and will be made of “a new kind of gold”.
We knew the watch was going to be 18-karat gold. But 18K gold isn’t pure gold — it’s an alloy of three parts gold to one part other material.
What Apple has done is produce a new patented alloy that contains less gold per volume while retaining the same 3:1 ratio and 18K classification. The other material isn’t one of the standard metals used in alloys; it’s ceramic, which is less dense. Dr. Drang on Leancrew explains this in more detail (emphasis ours):
How can this be? It’s because Apple’s gold is a metal matrix composite, not a standard alloy. Instead of mixing the gold with silver, copper, or other metals to make it harder, Apple is mixing it with low-density ceramic particles. The ceramic makes Apple’s gold harder and more scratch-resistant — which Tim Cook touted during the September announcement — and it also makes it less dense overall.
As developer Marco Arment points out on his blog, this reduced gold content could have opened the door to a significantly cheaper Apple Watch Edition.
“The uncomfortable issue of an extremely expensive watch that’s completely obsolete in a few years would all be significantly less problematic if the Edition was priced closer to $US2,000-$US3,000,” he writes.
Apple design chief Jony Ive also talked about Apple’s special gold in a recent profile in the Financial Times. He explained how Apple’s new gold methods made it “twice as hard as standard gold.”