Of the 38ish distinct Apple Watch models there are, to me, only five major style variations (ignoring size): the basic aluminum Sport, at $399, less or more depending on sizes and bands. The $699 steel Watch with classic, leather or modern bands. Upgrade to a steel link band for $999 ($1099 in black). Then there is the gold Edition starting at $10,000 and going all the way to $17,000.
According to the Tax Foundation’s summary of IRS Federal Individual Income Tax data from 2011, US taxpayer individual income brackets break down like so:
(After a few homebrews) I see a resemblance. Quantifying that resemblance I found surprising consistency: multiply each Apple Watch price by 170 and you get something cool:
|$399||42mm aluminum Sport||$67,830||$70,492||Top 25%|
|$699||42mm steel classic Watch||$118,830||$120,136||Top 10%|
|$999||42mm steel link Watch||$169,830||$167,728||Top 5%|
|$10,000||38mm gold sport Edition||$1,700,000||$1,717,675||Top 0.1%|
|$17,000||38mm gold modern Edition||$2,890,000||$2,800,000||Tim Cook’s 2013 Salary|
Apple Watch sales estimates have ranged from 8 million to 41 million. There were 34,146,428 Americans who made more than $70,492 in 2013. Are people in this bracket the intended market? If so, at the very least it seems there are at least 35 million fiscally-possible American buyers. World wide, there are many more.
The other thought that occurs to me: people claim purchasing a $10,000 watch is inconceivably irresponsible and ostentatious. Well, if your salary is $70,000 and you purchase an Apple Watch Sport you are being as irresponsible in your purchase, whether it lasts for 2 years or 50, as someone in the American 0.1% who purchases the Edition. Some estimate that 31% of Americans would like to purchase an Apple Watch – that seems irresponsible for at least some of them.
Is the Apple Watch a metaphor for American income inequality? Or maybe an Illuminati price fixing conspiracy? Probably neither. Finding patterns in numbers is fun but generally meaningless. Homework assignment: Match the 2011 income brackets to the Golden Ratio Phi.