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By Dan Moren

Waiting for Apple Watch

Update: Well, got a shipping notification from Apple at 5:56 pm Eastern today, so it looks like there is a Santa Claus, Virginia.

Despite waking up at 3 a.m. Eastern to order an Apple Watch, my order is still listed on Apple’s site as “Processing,” not yet having shifted to that most desirable of statuses, “Preparing for Shipment.” Instead, like many folks, I got an email in my inbox last night with this weirdly ambiguous message.

Apple email

My order, for a 42mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport, was processed at 3:03 a.m. Eastern, and from the admittedly unscientific results I’ve collected on Twitter it seems like around then may have been the cutoff for the first wave of shipments. (It’s also possible that the Space Gray or, at least, the 42mm version of it, may have been in especially high demand.)1

What I think is fair to say is that this is a most unusual Apple product launch, especially for the company’s consumer lines. New Macs, especially professional-level models, often seem to trickle out, but it’s been years since a new iOS device had this kind of Schrödinger’s launch window.

In large part, that is of course because this is an entirely new device, unlike anything Apple’s ever created before. While there are plenty of rumors about shortages in the supply chain, I’ve yet to hear any that ring with the weight of truth. Broad shortages would also seem to fly in the face of the many reports I’ve heard that watches supposed to ship later—including in June—are preparing for shipment already, and an Apple spokesperson telling BuzzFeed that orders would ship sooner than expected.

So what’s the deal with those of us who ordered watches early that don’t seem to be shipping yet? One likely possibility is that certain models—such as the Space Gray that I ordered—were met with very high demand, meaning that they’ll be shipped more slowly, while other models had lower than expected demand, meaning they’ll be delivered more promptly.

Two significant factors come to mind that would play into this. First, the immense number of band and case combinations make for more models, I would hazard, than pretty much any Apple product to date.2

More to the point, however, is that the differences between those models are largely matters of taste rather than of function. All of the Apple Watches have the same technological features. Compare that to the iPhone or iPad, where the primary distinctions are features like storage capacity and supported wireless carrier. There’s a lot more concrete usage information on which to base sales projections—for example, existing subscriber base for particular carriers.

Overall, though, I’m pretty confident that Apple is selling Apple Watches as fast as it can make them. The real question is just how fast it’s making them.


  1. It’s also possible that I’ll still get a shipping notification, in which case I’ll have to retract all of this! ↩

  2. I count 30 distinct SKUs of Watch—not including the Edition, which I kind of think of as a separate product altogether.  ↩

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]