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Why you probably won’t get a great Apple Watch 5 deal this Black Friday

Apple Watch 5
(Image credit: Future)

Are you desperate to get your hands on the new Apple Watch 5? Are you hanging on for Black Friday 2019 so you can get a massive discount off the list price? We’ve got some sad news for you: the majority of Black Friday Apple Watch deals will likely be on the older and more affordable Apple Watch 3, not the brand-spanking-new Series 5. 

You may still get some money off the Series 5, but it won’t be very much. How do we know? Because we’ve been doing the Black Friday shift for many years now and there are some definite patterns in Apple Watch Black Friday deals. 

With the exception of the very first year the Apple Watch was on sale, every Black Friday has seen very little in the way of deals on the most recent model, but a reasonable amount on the previous year’s one.

There are two key reasons for that - both obvious and not so obvious. 

Because Apple keeps a very tight lock on the distribution of its products, and because the Series 5 has only just started shipping, there aren’t endless unsold Series 5s gathering dust on shop shelves. 

Buyers are getting their first opportunities to pick up the latest and greatest Apple smartwatch, so there’s not much reason for the company to pile on discounts to sell units. 

Reason 2: Apple products don’t have huge profit margins

The second reason is that retailers don’t have much wiggle room on Apple devices since the company keeps its wholesale prices high. With most devices around $400 /£400, a retailer can expect to pay the manufacturer much less than that, which means it can cut the sticker price and still make a profit. Not so with Apple hardware.

While the figures for Apple devices are a well-guarded secret, we know the margins are nothing like the ones retailers get from other firms: for example in India in 2017, one large retailer broke cover to say that Apple had cut the margin on the iPhone X from an already tight 6.5% to 4.5%, roughly one-third of the margin rival firms offered. 

Factor in credit card fees and you’re looking at an effective margin of 2% or less, assuming that minimal margin applies across Apple’s device lineup. There’s not much room for big discounts there.

Apple Watch 5 review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

What kind of Apple Watch deals to expect from Black Friday 2019

We’re predicting occasional discounting on the Series 5 but a good selection of discounts and deals on the Apple Watch series 3. Note that Apple no longer sells the Apple Watch 4, but you can still find it on third-party retailers - but it’s unclear what kind of discounts the model will get.

Let’s turn back the Digital Crown and see what Apple Watch deals there were on previous Black Fridays so we’ll know what to expect this time around.

The best way to find out about the deals as they happen is of course to keep an eye on our Black Friday Apple Watch deals page: we’ll spend all of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals period scanning retailers’ prices to find you the very best deals on every kind of Apple Watch.

Apple Watch US deals of Black Fridays past

Apple Watch Black Friday 2017: discounts on the original

If you just wanted the original Apple Watch, many US retailers cut the price of the entry-level Series 1 from $249 to $199; Macy’s dropped even lower, taking the price down to $179.

Apple’s own Black Friday deals on the Apple Watch were modest and gift card-based: if you bought the Series 1 with Sport Band in the US, you’d get a gift card worth $25.

Apple Watch Black Friday 2016: discounts on the previous years

A year after the original Apple Watch came out, Best Buy cut the Series 1 from a $269 MSRP to $219 and Target went lower still at $198.

Some retailers went for gift cards instead. Kohl’s in the US had the best deal: it gave gift cards worth $75 or $105 to buyers of the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 respectively. 

Apple Watch deals on Black Friday 2015: few and far between

Best Buy offered discounts ranging from $25 to $100 on various versions of the original Apple Watch and Target chucked in a $100 gift card with every model, but with no previous versions to discount the Apple Watch, deals were few and far between on Black Friday 2015. Apple stayed well out of it, and skipped Black Friday 2016 altogether.

Apple Watch UK deals of Black Fridays past

Black Friday 2018: £40 gift card or £30 off, but only on the older one

Last year, the Black Friday Apple Watch deals weren’t on the newly released Apple Watch Series 4: they were for the Series 3, with £30 off the smaller version at Very taking the price down to £249. That wasn’t the best deal we saw over the sales period: some retailers, such as John Lewis, briefly offered it for £219.

Apple’s own Black Friday Apple Watch deal was also on the Series 3, with a £40 gift card if you bought certain models.

Apple Watch Black Friday 2017: £60 off if you bought a bundle

Two years ago John Lewis bucked the usual trend and offered money off the newest Apple Watch, which at that time was the Series 3. 

But it only did that if you also bought a set of AirPods, so it was hardly making the Watch more affordable for people on tight budgets. Still, it was a decent deal if you’d been planning to buy both Apple products.

Apple Watch deals on Black Friday 2016: a bit off the old one

2016 set a trend we’re still seeing today: nothing off the newly released Apple Watch but some modest price cuts on the previous model. For example, on Black Friday 2016 Argos cut the price of the Apple Watch from the £269 RRP to a more affordable £249 in the UK.