It turns out Apple may be using a method to have less dense gold on the 18k Apple Watch Edition, which could help lessen the price. Dr. Drang at Leancrew explains Apple’s patent application for a method that allows Apple to make 18k gold that has, on a volume basis, less gold than regular 18k gold.
It’s a process that includes Apple mixing gold with low-density ceramic particles. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, touted the Apple Watch’s gold as being harder and more scratch-resistant at the September media event, so this may be the method Apple is using.
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.
We’ll know more when Apple takes the stage on Monday to reveal the pricing of the 18k Apple Watch. Plugged-in Apple blogger John Gruber guesses the Apple Watch Edition with a Classic Buckle (42mm only) could be priced at $10,999.