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Apple Store offline ahead of Watch preorder rush

Demand is expected to be high for the wearable, which can only be purchased through a reservation system.

The Apple Watch will go on sale at midnight Friday. CNET

Apple's online store went offline Thursday with its familiar Schwarzenegger-esque "We'll be back" message ahead of the expected midnight rush to order the Apple Watch.

Apple will start taking preorders for its first wearable, which costs from $349, £299 or AU$499 all the way up to $17,000, £13,500 or AU$24,000, at 12:01 a.m. PT Friday for deliveries that will start on April 24, which is also the date that the smartwatch will officially go on sale.

The Apple Watch, which can sync with several of the company's products, marks Apple's first new product category since the iPad in 2010. It's also the first new push by the company under the leadership of Tim Cook, who has promised for more than a year that Apple would introduce and enter "exciting new product categories" beyond its wildly successful smartphones, tablets and computers.

Demand for the wearable is expected to be strong. But don't expect to walk into a store on Friday to purchase an Apple Watch like you can with the iPhone and iPad . Instead, all sales will be made through a reservation system.

The move to offer Apple Watch only by reservation is likely to be sure Apple has the right inventory on hand for what consumers want and being able to walk through the process with potential buyers when they come into the store. Apple Watch is different from any other device the Cupertino, Calif., company has ever sold. Because it's a new product, Apple wants to make sure consumers are comfortable with their choices and understand how the device works before they walk out of the store.

The Apple Watch comes in two sizes -- 42mm or 38mm -- and three designs -- the aluminum-cased Apple Watch Sport, stainless-steel-cased Apple Watch and the 18-karat-gold-cased Apple Watch Edition. The aluminum comes with silver or space gray options, while the stainless steel comes in its namesake color or a space black version. The gold watch is available in 18-karat yellow gold or 18-karat rose gold.