- Apple launches its first smartwatch today - but its stores will not stock it
- Online consumers must shell out £300 and then wait for a June delivery
- Analysts believe Apple feared queues may have been embarrassingly small
- However, it is believed Apple is sitting on some two million pre-orders
The Apple Watch is officially going on sale today - but none of its stores will have them in stock
Apple launches its first smartwatch today - but anyone turning up to buy one in the high street will be disappointed.
For although the Apple Watch is officially going on sale, none of its stores will have them in stock.
Instead, consumers willing to shell out between £299 to £9,500 - for the gold edition - have to pre-order the watches online and wait for their arrival until June.
Usually, Apple launches generate long queues outside stores. But City analysts believe the company feared the queues might be embarrassingly small and so opted to launch the watch with more of a whisper than a bang.
In fact, despite the high price and some skepticism that consumers are keen to adopt a new generation of wearable technology, pre-orders have far exceeded expectations.
As a result, the company's initial production run is simply not large enough to ensure that watches will be available in stores from today.
Analysts believe Apple is sitting on some two million pre-orders and that sales could top 20 million this year.
The watch includes a host of personal trackers, including a heart rate monitor, and is being billed as a personal doctor that will help users to lose weight and improve their health.
However, Apple also wants it to be seen as style statement and fashion accessory, with customers able to choose from any of 38 variants depending on the case and watch strap.
As a result, limited supplies have been given to six designer outlets around the world, which will apparently be sold to a few select customers by appointment today.
These include the exclusive Dover Street Market in London's Mayfair, which is understood to have 570 of the watches, although not the gold edition.
The launch of the watch into stores is being handled by Apple retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, who is very familiar with the world of designer labels.
She was head of the luxury British fashion label Burberry, where she was one of the UK's highest paid women executives, before joining the US company last May.
Her recruitment was sweetened with a golden hello of shares worth around £40million.
She told Apple staff via video message earlier this week that the decision to make the watch only available through online orders is because demand has exceeded supply.
In it she said: 'We know that you have been bombarded with questions from customers.
'Luckily, the customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We know they are excited about the Watch ...but there are a lot of questions about availability and timing etc.
'Last week we announced that due to the high global interest and the initial supply that we would only be taking orders online right now.
'This was not an easy decision, and I think it's really important to remind every single customer that this is not just a new product for us, this is an entirely new category.'
The official Apple UK website states anyone ordering the new watch can expect a delivery date in June, however some might get them before.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook pictured giving a presentation on the Apple Watch in San Francisco last month
A spokesman said: 'Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received. We know many customers are still facing long lead times and we appreciate their patience.'
Stuart Miles, technology expert and founder of website Pocket-lint.com, said: 'I think the watch will follow the same lines of success as the iPad did five years ago. It's an intriguing device that has enough wow factor to pull people in.'
But he added that the change in buying process this time - and the online backlog that has already begun - could put some people off.
'The biggest problem Apple looks to be facing, is not if people will buy one, it's whether they are going to be happy to wait until they can get one,' he said.
Will Findlater, editor-in-chief of gadget magazine Stuff, said: 'In many ways the Apple Watch is the ultimate gadget. Beautifully made and finished, hugely desirable and capable of a host of clever things, none of which you need, but many of which are nice to have.
'The functionality that could end up most compelling is messaging - the ability to send scrawled drawings, emoticons and even your heart beat direct to another Apple Watch owner feels personal in a way no other message platform does.'
He added: 'The one-day battery life and price are the two factors that will put many buyers off. £300 or more is a lot to pay for a first-generation device, especially as Apple will learn a lot about making it better once it's in the market.
'That means the second or third-generation Apple Watch is probably the wiser buy. However, waiting would mean missing out on the fun of living with an entirely new, cutting-edge gadget right now, and for early adopters, that will be too much to bear.'
Industry commentators believe the Apple Watch will follow the same lines of success as the iPad (pictured) did five years ago