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Apple Watch 'Premium' Versions Could Sure Get Pricey

The Apple Watch will start at $349 when it goes on sale in April, but premium versions could cost as much as $5,000 or more. Is the premium worth the extra money for status versions? 

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Apple Watch, smartwatch, wearables

When the Apple Watch launches in April, the consumer frenzy is sure to begin around the globe. The base Watch, priced at $349, is bound to be a huge seller, even though reports have been swirling recently about all the health monitoring features that will be missing from early devices due to engineering complications and possible regulatory issues.

Meanwhile, the $349 standard edition base price sounds reasonable, especially compared with the comparable prices of competing watches from LG, Sony, Motorola and other manufacturers.

What gets my attention, though, are the rumored high prices of premium versions of the Apple Watch—as high as $5,000 or $8,000 or more—being touted in some reports. A recent Forbes story described a scenario in which the gold used in a premium version of the Watch could cost $850 to $1,200 alone, which could push the overall retail price of the device to $5,000 or more.

That's just crazy. Surely, those are the status versions of the Watch in gold and other exotic and costly materials, meant to display the earning power and class position of their wearers. Certainly, those won't be purchased by most users.

I sure won't be buying one of those watches, even though I am a generally happy Apple customer.

I own and use a 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro that I bought with my own $1,100. Before that, I spent my own money on an Apple iPhone 4S that I used daily for more than two years. And earlier in February, I paid about $160 to have my old 80GB Apple iPod Classic completely refurbished because Apple stopped making large iPod Classics just at the time I needed a new one.

At the same time, I'm also a Windows 7 guy, so please don't start calling me an Apple fanboy.

So why in the world am I telling you all of this?

It's because I am utterly amazed that there is even a potential market for Apple Watches that glitter with gold or other precious metals. It's still an Apple Watch underneath all the extra status and accoutrements. It's a smartwatch. That's it.

I love Apple products just like the next person—OK, just like the next fanboy—but the premium prices they already command are not on my "like" lists. We all seem to buy them anyway, rationalizing their already premium price tags to ourselves because Apple devices are elegant, beautifully designed and work so well.

In the end, though, maybe it's all just an Apple marketing ploy to get rumor mills and drama going in advance of the product launch. That certainly couldn't be possible, could it?