Photographer: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Here’s What It’s Like to Shop for an Apple Watch

How to buy one and how to try one on

The reviews arrived Wednesday, and on Friday Apple's Watch officially goes on sale around the globe. Here's everything you need to know to secure yours.

There will be three ways to experience the Apple Watch in the store. The most casual is the display table, a glass-topped case that contains the different models (with the strap and color options) on show side by side. If you want a quick glance, you'll be able to scan the collection, hopefully without too much of a wait. The next level is the demo table, which will be similar to how you're used to experiencing Apple products in-store. Watches will be tethered to tables, and you'll get to touch the hardware and play with the software. Finally, there are separate demo tables where, by appointment, you can have an Apple associate help you try on the Sport and standard Apple Watch in various incarnations.

At 12:01am Pacific Time on April 10 (3:01am ET), preorders will open on Apple.com, much as they have with previous editions of the iPhone. What will be different is they will not be available in stores in the morning and won't even ship until April 24. In addition to buying the Apple Watch, you'll be able to schedule in-store, try-on appointments online, much as you'd make a Genius Bar appointment. 

The Wait Is Over: Time to Order Your Apple Watch

If it's the Apple Watch Edition you're looking for, try-on appointments for the gold version take place in a separate try-on area from the Sport and standard Apple Watch. The experience will include personal setup assistance and will last a little longer than a standard appointment. Only select stores will be carrying the Edition, and a list is yet to be released.

Overall it appears that Apple is trying to accommodate everyone from the casual onlooker to the must-have buyer, each in a different space to avoid making the launch a nightmare for customers and employees. Crowds are expected, but unlike previous launches, massive lines of people won't be waiting to purchase watches—there's nothing in the stores to walk away with.

Tim Cook previews the Apple Watch retail displays.
Tim Cook previews the Apple Watch retail displays.
Photographer: Eric Risberg/AP Photo

Apple locations will be rolling out the new furniture overnight (and 24-hour stores will close to do so). In New York, all the stores will open simultaneously at 9 a.m. to welcome guests with the very first appointments for those try-on tables. You don't need an appointment for the try-on tables, but if you don't have one, you could get caught waiting a while for the next open slot when you arrive in the store.

You won't be able actually to buy the watch in the store in the early days. You'll have to place your order online when you get home (or, if you're not too discreet with your credit card info, you can hop on one of the dozens of computers already in the stores). Apple is not commenting on whether this will end April 24 when the watches begin shipping.

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