Apple watches are not in stores until April 24 but you can buy them now in China.
Clones of the genuine article, or at least watches that look similar but suspiciously affordable, have gone on sale in the mainland, the Financial Times reported Thursday.
E-commerce websites such as Alibaba’s Taobao are selling watches that appear nearly identical to Apple’s newest offering, right down to the distinctive digital crown controller and the four sensors on the underside.
Most do not have a brand marking and cost 250 (US$40) yuan to 500, about a tenth to one-fifth of the price of the cheapest Apple watch launched this week by Tim Cook, chief executive of the Cupertino-based group.
Apple’s gold-cased luxury model costs up to US$17,000 and appears to be aimed at wealthy Chinese buyers.
In Shenzhen, copycat Apple watches are selling for 165 yuan to 280 yuan in Huaqiangbei, a major mobile phone market, according to Apple Daily, citing its own reporter.
The reporter saw three versions of the watch in a boutique shop at the SEG electronics market and said the most expensive had nearly identical functions as the genuine product.
None of the three fake versions, however, can download apps or support mobile payment.
A woman, surnamed Zhang, who claimed to be the owner of the SEG shop, said many Hongkongers buy the copycat watches, mostly the 179 yuan model.
One buyer bought 700 pieces in a single purchase, she said.
Another shop owner, surnamed Gong, said his store has been selling about 1,000 counterfeit watches per month, all of which are made in Shenzhen.
In his multimedia presentation at the product launch, Cook said WeChat, China’s most popular chat app, could be used on the Apple device.
Sellers have been fairly brazen about the provenance of their wares, according to the Financial Times.
On Taobao, the “iwatch” is being advertised with the slogan “Knockoff Apple watches have hit the market!”
But the seller cautioned: “If you are the kind of person who wants to compare a 200 yuan product with a 3,000 yuan Apple watch which has not been released, then this watch is not for you. Also, please stop asking us if this is the actual Apple watch.”
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