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The real Apple Watch goes on sale Friday in China, US

By Amy He in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-04-24 11:25

Some Chinese have been buying knock-off versions of the Apple Watch, but on Friday they'll get a chance to order the real thing.

The Apple Watch goes on sale Friday in the US, China and seven other countries.

It is expected to do well in China, where sales of knock-off versions began soon after Apple's unveiling of the gadget in March.

"The launch of Apple Watch is highly anticipated, particularly in China," Jack Chuang, associate partner of OC&C Strategy Consultants Greater China, said in an e-mail note.

"Significantly, unlike with the iPhone 6, Chinese consumers will not have to wait longer than those in the US and Europe to get their hands on Apple's new product.

"Reports of the high-end, Apple Watch Edition having already completely sold out in China through pre-orders underlines the company's status as a leading luxury brand in this market," he said. "Apple commands a huge, loyal customer base who are already part of the brand's ecosystem and willing to embrace their latest offering."

Until now, customers could only pre-order their watches online and try them on in select stores, but beginning Friday, customers in China, Hong Kong, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, Germany and Japan can purchase the smartwatch online or by reservation in Apple retail stores and from resellers in their regions.

Apple has said that there will be no in-store stock on the launch day, and that in-store purchasing at Apple locations won't be available until around June.

Avery Booker, a partner at China Luxury Advisors, a consultancy that works on luxury branding in China, said he expects both the high-end and low-end models to sell well in China. But he expects the midpriced watches to be a tougher sell.

"I think the middle-priced one is going to have a lot of trouble in the market, just because it's priced very competitively to entry-level Swiss watches, and given that choice between those two, people are always going to opt for the real watch," Booker said.

WeChat, the Chinese messaging app giant with more than 500 million active users, was one of the applications prominently featured on the watch. The watch also made its magazine debut on the cover of Vogue China, worn by Chinese supermodel Liu Wen. There are three versions of the watch: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. The Sport collection is priced from $349-$399; the Watch ranges from $549-$1,099; and the Edition starts at $10,000, with rose or yellow, 18-karat gold alloys.

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