9:03 a.m. EDT.
As Apple’s 5th Avenue store in New York City prepares to open, journalists and Apple employees outnumber people waiting for the watch.
Robert Jose, who has lined up in the drizzle not for a watch but to get a charger and exchange his iPhone, thought it would be a “little crazier” given the usual hoopla around iPhone launches.
“It doesn’t look like Black Friday yet. No fists flying,” the retail worker says. Caught up in the excitement anyway, Jose wants to “get in there” to get a glimpse at the watch.
Physician Asif Luqman has made an appointment to look at a steel version.
“I’m not getting it, just want to try it on. I like watches a lot,” he says. He wants to see it because it is the first of its kind. Apple, he believes, has put in the time and the effort to make a high-quality watch. He’s not getting it though.
“I’m waiting for the next version,” he says. “I want a watch that can function on its own.” Now it’s a small screen on your wrist for your phone. “I don’t need that.”
As a doctor, he’s also concerned about battery life. His phone already dies halfway through the day, the watch dies faster and not enough people will have it yet to have chargers laying around, he says.
7:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 p.m. in London)
In London’s Covent Garden, a tourist hotspot, a buzz is growing in the Apple flagship store as dozens of fans come to check out the new Apple Watch.
Some crouch over glass counters to play with sample watches, while others who had pre-booked appointments try them on their wrists.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” says Carl Walsh, a 43-year-old company director. “It’s beautifully developed, but I’ll probably want to wait a bit and see what people say about the battery life.”
The watch is Apple’s first new product category since the iPad came out five years ago. Analysts are waiting to see how well the watch will sell beyond devoted Apple fans. Apple has a better chance at succeeding than any other smartwatch maker so far, yet it will likely take time before sales reach the kind of numbers that Apple gets for iPhones and iPads.
Watch prices start at $349, but can go as high as $17,000 for a luxury edition in gold. People can try the watch on in Apple stores, but for now all orders are being handled online. Shipments begin April 24.
Regy Selsaas, 42, is here to see if the watch would make a good gift for his wife.
“It’s more like a gadget than a phone,” he says, wincing at the high price tag of the luxury version. “It’s really beautiful but expensive. I’m not 100 percent convinced.”
Jay Carroll, 15, needs no persuading. He and his mother Sarah placed an online order first thing Friday, but the two still wanted to try it out in store.
“I’m looking forward to just having it there on my wrist, so I can be on my phone all the time,” he says.
—Sylvia Hui, AP writer
5:30 a.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. in Tokyo):
The curious in Japan form a long line in Isetan department store, where a special section was built just for the Apple watch.
The 70-square-meter (750-square-foot) modernist box with black floors and walls is staffed by about a dozen workers clad in black.
Only 20 customers are allowed in at a time, and only those with advance reservations or who showed up early enough to get one of 76 lottery tickets got to try the watch on.
The rest could only look at a display of 19 watches under a glass showcase. They range in price from about 43,000 yen ($360) to 2,800,000 yen ($23,300) for the luxury edition in gold.
— Noriko Kitano, AP writer
5 a.m. EDT (5 p.m. in Shanghai):
In central Shanghai, potential Apple watch buyers stand in lines two to five people long over their lunch hour at an Apple store to try on the watch many say they already planned to buy.
“It was beautifully made, like an expensive watch,” says Li Hao, 27, a Web designer who owns a Mac, an iPad and an Apple TV. He has just traded up from an iPhone 4 to the new iPhone 6 Plus.
China was among countries where the watch had its global debut Friday, reflecting the country’s fast-growing status as one of Apple’s most important markets.
Li said he planned to buy the sport version of the watch at about 3,000 yuan ($500).
“I cannot do sports with the mobile phone,” he said. “I need a machine to record what I did and a screen to look at.”
Qi Tian, 26, who works in human resources for a real estate company, says he is “not a big fan” of Apple, though he owns four or five products. He says he plans to order a watch online that day.
“I just came to see if the size fits,” says Qi.
— Fu Ting, AP researcher.
3:01 a.m. EDT (12:01 a.m. in Cupertino, California):
Ready, set, go …
Apple starts taking orders for the watch on its website and Apple Store app. Currently, this is the only way Apple is selling the watch. Even those visiting retail stores will have to order online — either at home or at a Web terminal inside the store.
The retail stores are meant for customers who aren’t sure which watch case, band or size they want — or aren’t sure they even want one. Staff will be on hand to help customers try on the watches and answer questions before buying. Customers are encouraged to make an appointment online, though walk-ins will be accepted — just expect a wait.
It’s available in the U.S. and eight other markets around the world. In the U.S., the watch is available only in Apple stores. In some countries, select department stores and resellers also have it.
— Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer