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Wearable Tech

Apple Watch to be sold at Apple retail stores and boutiques

The tech giant reveals retail plans for its first line of smartwatches, which can be preordered April 10 and purchased on April 24.

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Apple will display its new line of smartwatches in designated cases at its retail stores. Shara Tibken/CNET

Apple finally provided more details about the Apple Watch on Monday, revealing specs, prices and information on where to pick up the wearable device. The answer to the "where" question is simple: To buy the watch in person, consumers will have to either go to an Apple retail store or select department stores and boutiques.

The line of three smartwatches will be on view and available for presale at Apple retail stores in several countries beginning April 10 and can be bought on April 24. Apple stores will have designated display cases to show all of the different ways people can customize the smartwatch with different bands and faces. The company will also sell the watches in department stores and boutiques, like Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo and Selfridges in London. The devices will additionally be available on Apple's online store.

The entry-level model, the aluminum and glass Apple Watch Sport with a plastic band, starts at $349. The mid-range stainless-steel-cased watches range from $549 to $1,099, depending on the type of band customers choose. The 18-karat-gold Apple Watch Edition will go for a starting price of $10,000. The devices must be paired with an iPhone, and are compatible with the iPhone 5 , 5C, 5S, 6, and 6 Plus. The smartwatches will launch in more than a half dozen countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and China.

The Apple Watch is the "most personal device we have ever created," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the company's "Spring Forward" event in San Francisco on Monday. "It's not just with you, it's on you."

The Apple Watch, which is a wearable device that can sync with several of the company's products, marks Apple's first new product category since the "magical" iPad in 2010. It's also the first new push by the company under Cook's tenure as chief executive. Cook had promised for over a year that Apple in 2014 would introduce and enter "exciting new product categories" beyond its wildly successful smartphones, tablets and computers.

Apple first announced the Apple Watch in September calling the smartwatch a "breakthrough" product. Cook described it as a "comprehensive" health and fitness device, walkie-talkie and remote control for the Apple TV streaming-box. Those factors alone set the Apple Watch apart from other smartwatches on the market, which tend to simply track steps, provide notifications, and run very basic apps.

With its Apple Watch, the company has placed a big emphasis on design, making sure the device is fashionable and something people actually want to wear. While at first glance it slightly resembles Samsung's Gear smartwatches and other wearables already on the market, it provides more ways the wearer can customize it. Apple will provide a range of bands in various materials -- including leather and metal -- so users can tailor the product to their style.

"Every Apple Watch has many different faces and many different configurations," Cook said Monday.

The person tasked with amping up Apple's retail sales is the company's senior vice president of retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts. She joined Apple last May after serving as CEO of fashion label Burberry since 2006. She's the first Apple executive to oversee both Apple's more than 400 physical stores and its online retail efforts.

It's thought that she'll have a challenge selling Apple Watch because the device will need to be seen as useful beyond a smartphone.

"Smartphones already offer a convenient way to check the time, access the Web and apps, and increasingly pay for products," said Cathy Boyle, senior mobile analyst at eMarketer. "So, to succeed with a smartwatch, Apple needs to create a compelling use case for the device, a feature set that offers far more than simply saving consumers the few seconds it takes to pull a smartphone out of a pocket or purse."

Corrected at 3:55 p.m. PT to say Apple Watch will be sold at department stores and boutiques, along with Apple retail stores.