Apple Tested Ceramic Apple Watch Edition Two Years Before It Launched
The ceramic Apple Watch Edition dated back to 2014, despite the high-end model not launching until 2016 with the Apple Watch Series 2, according to newly-shared images of a prototype casing.
The images, shared on Twitter by the prototype collector known as "DongleBookPro," show a prototype white ceramic original Apple Watch casing that was manufactured in 2014. The device runs internal software for testing purposes and it was made long before the first release of watchOS, but it looks largely identical to the white ceramic Apple Watch Edition that launched in 2016.
The images of the 2014 prototype show that Apple had reached a far stage of development on the ceramic Apple Watch Edition, but for unclear reasons, the company elected to only offer the original Apple Watch Edition in 18-carat gold, and held back the ceramic casing to replace the gold version in the lineup when the Series 2 launched in 2016.
Apple marketed the ceramic white Apple Watch Edition as a high-end option starting at $1,249, owing to its extremely unique finish.
At the time, Apple lauded the ceramic casing as strong, light, and scratch-resistant, being four times as hard as the stainless steel finish, while also featuring a "pearly, lustrous finish" that is extremely resistant to scratches and tarnishing.
The process of creating the Apple Watch Edition case begins with a high-strength zirconia powder that's combined with alumina to achieve its rich, white color. Each case is then compression molded, sintered, and polished using a diamond slurry, which results in a remarkably smooth surface and an exquisite shine. With this precise level of workmanship, every Apple Watch Edition case takes days to make.
Apple introduced a white ceramic Apple Watch Edition with the Series 2, and went on to expand the ceramic options by introducing a gray version with the Series 3. While there was no ceramic Apple Watch Edition for Series 4 models, Apple revived the high-end white ceramic Edition model for the Series 5. With the latest Apple Watch Series 6, there is again no ceramic version, with the Edition models featuring a cheaper titanium casing only.
Some fans of the unique white finish hope to see a ceramic option for the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7, which is seemingly made more likely by the alternating availability of the model in recent years, but there is no word on whether such a casing will again become available with the launch of the Series 7 later this year.