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Wearable Tech

Apple Watch buyers, get your reservations ready

Walk-in customers won't be able to walk out with Apple's new smartwatch. But there will be pampering of those shopping for the 18-karat gold Edition gadget.

The pricey 18-karat-gold Apple Watch Edition James Martin/CNET

Those of you eyeing the new Apple Watch will need a reservation to buy one.

Customers who simply walk into an Apple Store expecting to purchase the new watch on the spot will apparently be out of luck, according to leaked Apple training documents obtained by MacRumors. Instead, buyers will have to reserve a specific model ahead of time via an online "product reservation" system.

This tidbit itself isn't new, however. In its March 9 press release, Apple said that Apple Watch sales would start April 24 online or by reservation in its stores. Starting April 10, the watch will be available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, and Japan for preview, try-on by appointment at Apple's retail stores and up for preorder through the Apple Online Store.

Why the need for online reservations? Apple seems to anticipate low inventory for its new watch, indicated MacRumors, so there may not be enough supply for walk-in customers. Once the initial demand has calmed down, the company expects to offer purchases to people who walk into a store without an appointment, MacRumors added.

Apple will use the two-week period between April 10 and April 24 to offer hands-on demos of the watch at its retail outlets. The watch will be available in three different varieties -- the entry-level Sport version, the midlevel Apple Watch and the luxury Apple Watch Edition. The Sport version starts at $349, the Apple Watch at $549 and the Apple Watch Edition at $10,000.

What if you decide you'd like to buy the watch during one of the hands-on demos? An Apple salesperson will help you place an order online or through the Apple Store app, according to the leaked documents.

Customers eyeing the high-end, 18-karat-gold Apple Watch Edition will also receive more time and focus than those looking for the two less-pricey models, according to 9to5Mac. The Apple Watch Edition is being marketed not as a mere smartwatch but as an expensive, luxury piece of jewelry.

People looking for the expensive Edition version will work with a dedicated "expert" trained in selling the device, 9to5Mac said, citing "sources briefed on the launch plans." These Experts will deal with only a couple of customers at one time, while those selling the entry-level Sport and midlevel Apple Watch will need to juggle as many customers as possible.

Apple Watch Edition customers will also be granted as long as an hour to learn about the watch, including 30 minutes to actually try it on. In contrast, those looking at the other two watch versions may only get about 15 minutes of time from an Apple sale rep. Apple will also have special areas set up where you can check out the Apple Watch Edition, including "try-on" mats similar to the ones you find in jewelry stores, according to the sources. For security reasons, customers will typically be allowed to try out up to two Edition watches at one time.

Those of you who don't feel like heading to your local Apple Store to check out the watch can instead videoconference with an Apple salesperson to learn about the device. Videoconferencing will be offered to customers interested in both the Edition version and the stainless steel Apple Watch. However, those eyeing the Edition version will reportedly receive a more "elegant" experience via video, and if they buy it, they can also learn how to set it up through a follow-up video chat.

People who purchase the Apple Watch Edition will receive a dedicated phone line offering two years of technical support available 24/7. Finally, the Edition version will initially be available only at stores in Apple's "largest markets," said 9to5Mac's sources, and then will roll out "gradually" to the rest of the company's retail outlets.

Assuming all these details are accurate, Apple's special in-store experience is hardly surprising. The company is positioning its new watch against other smartwatches, conventional watches and luxury watches. Therefore, Apple would be keen to roll out the red carpet for potential watch buyers, especially those who plan to spend at least $10,000 on the most expensive edition.