Apple said at the beginning of the month that it would fulfill all May Apple Watch orders with the exception of Space Black Link Bracelets by the middle of the month, then begin selling some models in retail stores for the first time. We’re hearing now that some Apple Retail Stores are preparing to begin limited in-store sales as soon as this week ahead of the Apple Watch’s expansion into seven more countries next Friday, and there will be a small perk for those who’ve waited… Apple Retail Stores appear to be preparing to carry mostly Apple Watch Sport models and in limited quantities to start, according to multiple sources. Many locations aren’t expecting to receive inventory and begin in-store sales until next week, although select stores do expect to receive inventory as early as this week and start selling Apple Watches to customers as soon as the watches arrive.
For now, Apple Watch sales continue to be available exclusively online, continuing Apple’s approach since the watch’s launch in late April.
Many 38mm stainless steel Apple Watches ship within 1-3 days from ordering, however, including the Milanese Loop, Classic Buckle, and both Sport band stainless steel models. Almost all other 38mm Apple Watches estimate 5-7 days for delivery times with the exception of a few Modern Buckle sizes promising 1-2 weeks.
All 42mm aluminum and stainless steel Apple Watches are shipping within 1-2 weeks from being ordered currently with Space Black Link Bracelet still being the exception at 3-4 weeks. For Apple Watch Edition customers, the 18k gold models are currently shipping in 2-3 weeks with the exception of each Modern Buckle version at 3-4 weeks.
While the Apple Online Store has readied a Personal Pickup option for orders placed on the web, the option remains unavailable for all models.
Finally, for Apple Watch customers that have awaited official Apple Watch retail availability, we’re hearing that Apple Stores will have a small but interesting addition to the purchasing experience in the form of special Apple Watch bags for shoppers. These special bags are said to be made of heavy paper with rope handles that color-match the bands of each Apple Watch being sold, something Apple recently embraced with its Beats Powerbeats2 earbuds as well. The bags our tipster spotted were seemingly for the Sport model as they are short and narrow just like the box the Sport watches come in. It’s possible that Apple could use a different shaped bag for the Apple Watch and Edition models. [Update: 9to5Mac reader Nick has shared a shot of these Apple Watch bags.]
Aside from the upcoming retail launch, the Apple Watch is set to go on sale in Italy, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan next Friday, June 26th.