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Stephen Lam—Reuters

“It begins at the molecular level,” croons Sir Jony Ive in his soothing, much parodied British accent. He’s describing in one of the three attached videos how Apple’s metallurgists, starting with a “uniquely luxurious metal,” have made precise adjustments in the amount of silver, copper and palladium to achieve specific hues of yellow and rose gold.

In a second video, he explains how Apple’s engineers add tightly controlled amounts of magnesium and zinc to molten aluminum to custom design a new alloy that’s 60% stronger than standard alloys but just as light.

Stainless steel, he says in the third, is both strong and beautiful. “For Apple Watch, we start with an alloy known for its strength and corrosion resistance. We then customize it through a series of alloying and processing steps to make it even stronger.”

Material science has never been so sexy or so beautiful. Apple must spend a small fortune on these 2-minute videos with their tight, slow-motion shots of extruding, forging, milling, buffing, texturing and anodizing.

But there’s a method to this madness. Apple wants the $10,000 starting price of the gold Edition to raise the perceived value of all its watches.

Functionally, your $349 aluminum Sport is the same device as the Chinese billionaire’s $17,000 gold watch with the bright red gold band.

The message of these videos is that the care Apple takes with one alloy it takes with them all. Whatever Watch you choose, you get the same obsessive attention to detail, down to the molecular level.




Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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