As you might know, Apple is set to open its first Apple store in the Middle East, in Dubai. Considering earlier reports of a February launch, however, it’s been delayed (presumably due to its “epicness”). Yes—in classic Dubai style—it can’t only be a celebrated regional first, but must also be another Burj Khalifa-esque world-record breaker in retail-space tonnage.
The launch of the new Apple Watch and Apple mega-store are almost timed too perfectly to appeal to the region’s oft-cited love of excess. We’re the place with the world’s tallest buildings, most expensive cars, and most luxurious hotels. In our region, luxury is often weighed by the carat, measured by the meter, and made better simply by adding more.
This is why I hope Apple doesn’t sell a single Apple Watch Edition in the Middle East. Fat chance—but hey, a guy can hope.
We stand on the eve of the launch of the new Dubai Design District. As an industry and region, we believe it’s an inflection point: an opportunity to develop and refine an authentic culture that values craftsmanship over crass displays of imported excess. We have to invest in local talent and cultivate a discerning taste. In light of this, the Apple Watch Edition is a step backwards on this path. It’s a return to the gold-plated punchline so frequently attributed to this region.
When compared with the other Apple Watches, the Apple Watch Edition bears no differentiating qualities, other than that it is gold and is obscenely expensive. (Well, ironically for a company that prides itself on products that “just work,” the watch will also throw in a 24/7 support helpline for anyone who shells out the cash for this watch.)
At the US $10,000+ price-point Apple is asking, a whole line of original mechanical movements from IWC, Cartier, Rolex, Omega, and more are available, and just a stone’s throw from pieces from the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe. These watches are classic crafted works of art that will still be cherished heirlooms for years to come. The Apple Watch Edition, by contrast, is destined for depreciation once the stopwatch counts down to the next Apple event, when something newer and better invariably pushes it into technological obsolescence.
So here’s to hoping Apple’s failure being the Middle East’s cultural success. Don’t buy the hype and don’t buy the Apple Watch Edition.