Buyers can take the smartwatch home from a handful of upscale boutiques and department stores, including The Corner in Berlin, Maxfield in Los Angeles and Dover Street Market in Tokyo and London, which Apple courted to help position the watch as a fashion item.
But the gadget was not being sold at Apple stores yesterday. The company directed people to order online instead, to prevent the long lines of Apple devotees who typically flock to iPhone and iPad launches.
About 50 people lined up to buy the watch at electronic store Bic Camera in Tokyo’s Ginza district, while at the nearby Apple Store it was like any other Friday, according to reporters.
READ MORE: The definitive Apple Watch buyer's guide .
“I buy one or two Apple products every time they release something new,” Chiu Long, a 40-year-old IT worker from Taiwan, said while queuing up at Bic Camera. “I like to run, so the heart rate reader is a progress,” he added.
At a retail outlet of mobile carrier SoftBank, around 20 people queued to get their hands on the gadget.
“I want to develop my own application that’s compatible with the smartwatch,” said 27-year-old IT worker Tatsuya Omori as he waited in line outside the store.
“I’m also an Apple fan. I simply want it.”
Technology lovers and investors keen to find out the components of the watch were left frustrated, with a tough resin coating protecting the core computing module from scrutiny.
Gadget repair firm iFixit, which has successfully prised open other Apple products on their launch day to reveal their components, said the US company also appeared to be promoting its brand on the watch’s inner workings, complicating detailed analysis of the parts’ origins.
The lack of queues at Apple stores made it hard to judge popular demand for the watch, which comes in 38 variations with wide variations in prices depending on the model.
Apple has not released any numbers since it opened for pre-orders on April 10, although many buyers were told their watches would not arrive for a month or more as supply appeared to dry up.
Wall Street estimates of Apple Watch sales vary widely. FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives raised his sales estimate this week to 20m watches from 17m, based in part on online order backlogs.
“There was a question over whether the trajectory and demand for wearables in the Apple ecosystem was there and real,” said Ives. “But it’s a resounding yes.”
Apple itself said this week that some customers will get watches faster than promised.
“Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received,” Apple said in a statement.
The Cupertino, California firm previously predicted that demand would exceed supply at product launch.