Apple has invented a new kind of gold
Today, Apple is finally going to tell us a lot more about the long-anticipated Apple Watch. Namely: How much it costs. ( businessinsider)
Predictions for the price of the coveted gold "Edition" version of the Apple Watch are ranging as high as $10,000 (or even more!) — 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 that the watch is going to be 18K gold. But 18K gold isn't pure gold — it's an alloy of gold and other metals. 18K gold is 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 "make it twice as hard as standard gold."