Brandon Hudson, 18, was watching the first launch of Apple Watch (AAPL) last fall giddy with techie excitement. But there was one flaw in the presentation, he felt. Why couldn’t you wear a futuristic Watch – which ships April 24 and starts at $349 – using your favorite watch band? He didn’t think consumers should be limited to Apple’s pricey options, which run from $49 to $449, so he and some buddies at the Rochester Institute of Technology decided to design a solution to that problem.
Called Click, the product amounts to either polymer, aluminum or stainless steel (from $10 to $35) brackets that click into place in the corresponding housing slot on Watch. The Click bracket then allows for any traditional watchband to be used with Apple’s newest tech innovation. Since Hudson and his team did not have a Watch to work off, they designed their product by building a scale model using detailed measurements off images and other details that Apple has released of the product.
Speculation continues to run rampant on just how well Watch will do; Keith Bachman of BMO Capital Markets believes Apple will sell 19 million Apple Watch units in calendar year 2015. But another indicator could simply be how well Hudson and his classmates have done with Click’s Kickstarter campaign, which launched a few weeks ago. Aiming for $30,000, they hit that mark in 24 hours and so far have secured more than $70,000 from nearly 2,000 backers.
“The feeling is certainly that Watch will do well, but it will only help it if the customization options are there,” says Hudson, who says that backers have noted that some want to wear Watch with their grandfather’s old watchband, while others are eager to make their own custom bands. “The other thing is the price point (of Apple’s band offerings). If the Watch is $349, it seems a bit crazy to spend $500 on the band.”
Hudson says he fields a half-dozen calls and e-mails a day from retailers who want to carry Click, “particularly in Europe and Singapore.” He expects to start shipping Click to Kickstarter backers by late May.
Marco Della Cava