For Watch Debut, Apple Will Skip AT&T for Luxury Retailers

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Apple's new murderer's row of fashion executives did not appear on stage yesterday during Apple's lavish event. But their handiwork is coming to light.

When the Apple Watch arrives on sale on April 24, it will not be found at AT&T, the first wireless operator to carry the iPhone. "We do not plan to carry it at launch," Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T, said in a statement. Instead, the device will showcase at several high-end fashion retailers globally, part of Apple's goal to position the product as a luxury item.

Women's Wear Daily reports:

In tandem with the April 24 launch, select specialty stores will sell individually chosen selections of the Apple Watch: Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles and The Corner in Berlin. It is understood 10 Corso Como in Milan will also get the product at a later date.

Additionally, the device will be previewed at high-end retailers in Paris, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu, according to the publication. Leading up to the release of its Watch, Apple poached several executives from fashion retail, including two CEOs -- Paul Deneve, from Yves Saint Laurent and Angela Ahrendts, from Burberry, who runs Apple's retail -- as well as top marketing executives from Levi's and Gap.

It is unclear if Apple will allow other U.S. operators to sell its Watch, although it is unlikely it would pit them against AT&T, its initial partner with the iPhone in 2007. At Apple's event on Monday, CEO Tim Cook noted new "beautiful custom table[s]" at Apple stores that will hold the Watch, which sell initially in nine countries at prices reaching $17,000.

Apple did not return requests for comment. Neither did Sprint. Representatives from Verizon and T-Mobile declined to comment.

The absence of Apple's newest gizmo would be a sizable loss for the carriers, which have invested considerably in retail operations from new devices and connections as revenue from smartphones stagnate. Apple's device does not carry LTE connection, so it does not offer a future cash source for the carriers, but it will undoubtedly draw customers. All big four national operators sell smartwatches from Apple's competitors Samsung, LG and Motorola. Last month, Sprint agreed to purchase 1,750 locations from RadioShack to compete against Verizon and AT&T.