Fans count down to Apple Watch launch in overnight queues

Student Sriram Rengamannar and his father, Mr Renga Mannar, were first in line to buy the Apple Watch yesterday after a 12-hour wait at Ion Orchard's EpiCentre store. "I was too excited to sleep," said the 13-year-old.
Student Sriram Rengamannar and his father, Mr Renga Mannar, were first in line to buy the Apple Watch yesterday after a 12-hour wait at Ion Orchard's EpiCentre store. "I was too excited to sleep," said the 13-year-old.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Good turnout a sign of wearable tech entering mainstream market: Experts

THE launch of Apple's first timepiece in Singapore attracted an overnight queue at some retail outlets, with analysts saying that wearable technology is finally entering the mainstream market.

The local launch of the much- awaited Apple Watch came two months after its launch in markets in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Britain and the United States.

The queue at the EpiCentre store in Ion Orchard started forming as early as 10pm on Thursday. By 9am yesterday, 60 people were in the queue.

Student Sriram Rengamannar, 13, who was first in line, said: "I was too excited to sleep."

He was accompanied by his father, Mr Renga Mannar, 44, who bought the 42mm stainless steel model with the Milanese Loop for $1,018 after some 12 hours of waiting in line. The IT engineer said the watch was meant to motivate his son in his studies.

Nubox's store in Raffles City Shopping Centre also saw about 60 people in the queue by 9am yesterday, with some having travelled from across the Causeway just to buy the watch here.

Malaysian radio deejay Ben Loh, 32, was among them. He drove for four hours from Kuala Lumpur with his wife and son, and reached the store at 8am.

"Singapore is the nearest place to get hold of the Apple Watch without having to pre-order it online," said Mr Loh, who was planning to buy eight pieces for his friends and family.

The sport edition of the Apple Watch is priced from $518, while the stainless steel version retails at $798 to $1,598 apiece.

The luxury edition, crafted from 18-karat rose or yellow gold, retails exclusively at Malmaison by The Hour Glass in Knightsbridge. It is priced from $15,000 to $25,500.

Mr Matt Pollins, a digital media lawyer at Olswang, is not surprised by the fervent demand.

"The queues and the numerous wearable devices already on sale confirm that this product category has finally entered the mainstream," he said.

Some Apple fans did not wait for the local launch but bought their watches earlier from the US, Hong Kong and Japan.

Mr Jimmy Fong, chief executive officer of EpiCentre, said the queue for the Apple Watch may not be as long as that for the iPhone, but added: "It is still a pretty good response and crowd."

Apps for the smartwatch, including DBS' PayLah! digital wallet, are already available for download. The Straits Times app for receiving the latest news on small screens will be available from mid-next month for free.

trevortan@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'Fans count down to Apple Watch launch in overnight queues'. Print Edition | Subscribe