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Apple Watch off to a slow start in Singapore

Demand for Apple products is usually very high in the city-state, but the company's smartwatch has received a lukewarm welcome on its first day on sale in Southeast Asia.

Customers try out the Watch at an Apple reseller in Singapore. Aloysius Low/CNET

Apple's smartwatch doesn't seem to be attracting much interest from its fans here in the city-state of Singapore. The Apple Watch made its official debut Friday in Singapore, along with six other countries: Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan.

While early reports mentioned an overnight queue outside reseller stores -- Apple does not have its own store in Singapore -- the queue appeared to have petered out in the afternoon, a contrast to previous launches of Apple devices.

"I queued there early this morning around 7am, and was surprised to be 12th in line," said Wilfred Phua, an Apple fan who bought an Apple Watch Sport. "I think those who already wanted one would have gotten it when it first launched."

Both Apple and its resellers declined to comment on demand for the Apple Watch.

Apple products have long been highly coveted by the population of this wealthy city-state, and product launches are typically greeted with long queues and strong demand. But the company left Singapore out of the first wave of countries for the launch of its smartwatch, its debut device in the field of wearbles -- surprising given the island state has been in the first wave for most of its recent products. Singapore also serves as a hub for fans living in the rest of Southeast Asia to get their hands on Apple devices.

"I will say that I was surprised to see that stock was still available when I visited an outlet at around 4 pm today. I was expecting to hear of reports of much longer lines too, especially in an Apple-crazed market like Singapore," said Bryan Ma, vice president of research firm IDC Asia.

"There could be a number of reasons, including simply low awareness -- I'm surprised I didn't hear more about the local launch date through mass media -- as well as people who perhaps already got the watches through grey-market imports from the US," Ma said. "And to Apple's credit, maybe it was able to fill stores with enough inventory to last them for a while.

"Part of this is also just that everyone has very high expectations of a company like Apple, especially given how other products like the iPhone have done. And I'm sure that these stores will be busy, and most likely sold-out, by the time the weekend rolls around."

Resellers here have been trained to provide buyers with a similar watch-fitting experience you can expect from an Apple Store. Apple has worked with resellers to include special drop-in glass-covered tables for the watches. For some stores, this table may be smaller than in an Apple Store, to accommodate the existing retail space. Customers also get to try out the different bands and watches before making their purchase.

In Singapore, prices start from S$518 ($385) for the Apple Watch Sport and cap out at S$1,598 ($1,190) for the 42mm space black stainless steel link Apple Watch. For those loaded with cash, the Apple Watch Edition goes up to a whopping S$25,000 ($18,600).

Apple has so far has not revealed how many smartwatches it has sold, although data from research firm Splice Intelligence puts it at 2.8 million so far. At the company's Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month it announced an update for the device's software called Watch OS that will allow developers to tap into more of its hardware.