According to a new report, Apple holds a patent that allows them to make 18-karat gold that uses just 28 percent as much gold (in volume) as a standard 18-karat gold alloy.
For consumers, this means that the pricing model for the Apple Watch Edition may be significantly lower than the original estimates. It is fascinating to see that Apple has some brilliant material scientists on board working on breakthrough manufacturing techniques.
“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.
The karat measure of gold is based on the mass fraction. One hundred grams of 18k gold has 75 grams of gold and 25 grams of other material. If that “other material” is a low-density ceramic, it takes up a bigger volume than if it’s a high-density metal. Because the casing of a watch is made to a particular size (i.e. volume), not to a particular weight, the ?Watch will have less gold in it than an 18k case made of a conventional alloy.”
Lower manufacturing costs on Apple’s end doesn’t mean it will translate to breakthrough prices on the consumer side. The Apple Watch Edition will still be an expensive product and if Apple has figured out a way to use less gold than standard 18-karat gold alloys, then that will go towards higher margins not lower prices.
— Sumocat (@SumocatS) March 6, 2015
Apple is expected to provide more information about the Apple Watch at its “Spring Forward” media event in San Francisco. The keynote begins tomorrow at 10am PST / 1pm EST and the company will be live streaming the event from their website.