Apple Watch China Vogue
The cover of Vogue China’s Nov 2014 issue, in that denote Liu Wen wears a Apple Watch.

Even if a Apple Watch is a wave in a U.S., it could be a large strike in China

In Apple CEO Tim Cook’s words, a Apple Watch is “incredibly beautiful.” But some are observant it’s “incredibly unnecessary.”

Apple supporters haven’t been bashful in arguing that a arriving Apple Watch will be a flop. Dismissive reviews of Apple’s initial wearable are abundant (“a thick, nauseous clunker,” “a really foolish idea“), while analysts’ uninformed estimates of first-year sales have trended on a low side. Investors haven’t been too confident either: Apple’s batch fell 2% Tuesday, a day after it denounced some-more Apple Watch details.

But what few comprehend is that Apple has a 3.7 million block mile ace adult a sleeve: China.

It’s no tip that Chinese consumers adore their Apple products. Chinese resellers and admirers comparison traveled a world and lined adult for days to brush adult Apple’s latest iPhone final fall. Some constructed iPhone 6 “undergarments” to bypass etiquette duties on a approach home. One male even used 99 iPhone 6 units to introduce to his girlfriend. (She pronounced no.)

Now, with a Apple Watch streamer to China on Apr 24, a country’s Apple fans have already begun generating outlandish headlines. A Guangzhou male was arrested this week for selling drugs in sequence to financial his Apple Watch, clearly reluctant to settle for one of many cheap knockoff Apple Watches uninformed on China’s black market. Those counterfeits are good news for Apple—they’re an denote direct will be high for a genuine thing. Previous wearables, like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, had never been renouned adequate to make it into China’s tawdry market.

Apple, then, is expected counting on a legions of Chinese fans to dip adult Apple Watches to assistance boost worldwide sales. But China is no fill-in plan. In fact, given Apple’s constant following in China, a Apple Watch could really good have been done for China.

The Apple Watch’s biggest advantage in China is deceptively simple: Few Chinese consumers giggle when Apple touts a device as a oppulance item. Apple became China’s tip oppulance code for 2015, outranking labels like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. More recently, Apple’s standing has risen as Chinese consumers of oppulance products prioritize functionality over ostentatiousness—a banned that China’s President Xi Jinping deplored as “unhealthy,” criticizing Chinese elites’ mania with standing black like Rolex watches.

Even improved for Apple is how many Chinese consumers value code names in oppulance goods. According to Digital Luxury Group’s (DLG) 2014 report, 73% of online searches for oppulance watches are about code names, roughly twice a rate of Americans. Apple’s code approval could sign a understanding for a Apple Watch in China—but it could also harm sales in a U.S., where Apple is seen as a tech code rather than a conform label:

All this will assistance palliate plaque shock, too. While Americans will review a Apple Watch’s $349-$17,000 cost tab to a cost of consumer electronics, Chinese consumers are some-more expected to smoke-stack it adult opposite oppulance timepieces. The worldwide median cost of a oppulance watch is about $10,700, according to DLG. That means a Apple Watch Sport (starting $349) and Apple Watch (starting $549) are inexpensive by comparison, while a bullion and china Apple Watch Edition models that start during $10,000 aren’t crazy purchases. China’s oppulance watch marketplace is also flourishing rapidly, partially interjection to the arise in Chinese women’s incomes:

Apple Watch’s guarantee in China as a select oppulance object is already clear. When former supermodel Christy Turlington Burns seemed during Apple’s U.S. eventuality Monday to explain how she’s regulating Apple Watch for fitness, critics called it an awkward, even irrelevant product placement — an iconic women’s advocate wearing a watch “skewed to geeky guys.” But when a Apple Watch graced a cover of Vogue China alongside China’s many famous model, Liu Wen, frequency anyone batted an eye. As Vogue China’s editor-in-chief described a difference, “We welcome new record and digital products some-more simply than maybe people elsewhere.”

Of course, Apple has spent years laying a grounds in China for a intensity strike with a Apple Watch. It hermetic a “watershed” understanding with state-owned China Mobile in 2013 to safeguard China’s largest mobile network upheld iPhones, an agreement that was in a creation as distant behind as in 2007 when a initial iPhone launched. Apple also recently brought a iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to China, that competition a incomparable screens Chinese users have prolonged demanded. Apple shipped a record-breaking 74.5 million iPhones worldwide final quarter, and while Apple doesn’t relapse shipments by country, UBS estimates that China now claims 36% of a iPhone market, leading a U.S. for a initial time.

And Apple has already related a Apple Watch to China. The company’s Mar 9 eventuality kicked off with a video display a opening of a new flagship Apple Store in China, where a sell locations are set to double by mid-2016. Later, Apple showed off a Apple Watch’s harmony with WeChat, a extravagantly renouned messaging app in China. It was a correct move, as Chinese users have voiced worry that Apple Watch’s shade is too tiny for a app.

So while Apple Watch’s aptitude in a West might continue to be questioned, a wearable has a transparent place in China. Given how lucrative China has been for Apple, either or not China loves a Apple Watch could be precisely what creates or breaks a device initial reception.