Apple has invented a new kind of gold
Predictions for the price of the coveted gold "Edition" version of the Apple Watch are ranging as high as $10,000 (or even higher!) - but there are suggestions it could cost significantly less. Why? Because, as Dr. Drang points out on Leancrew, Apple says it has invented a new kind of gold.
We know the watch is 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 opens the door to a significantly cheaper Apple Watch Edition than people are speculating. "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 $2,000-$3,000," he writes. "We don't know yet if Apple will do that, but it sure looks like they can."
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."
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