Apple Watch X overhaul tipped to finally bring a thinner case, new band design

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In Apple’s recent financial report, we discovered that its smartwatch is doing a good job of attracting newcomers, which made up two-thirds of buyers in the most recent quarter. It’s less clear how appealing the device is to upgraders, particularly in the wake of a series of cautious updates: last year’s Apple Watch Series 8 barely had any differences from the previous model, and the upcoming Series 9 is expected to be a similar story.

Beyond 2023, however, that pattern could be about to change. According to Bloomberg leaker-analyst Mark Gurman, writing in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Cupertino has a far more momentous Apple Watch launch up its sleeve.

The 10th generation of the device, which Gurman refers to as the Watch X and describes as a “splashy upgrade” and “the biggest overhaul yet,” is set to receive a raft of substantive improvements that the maker would normally spin out across two or three yearly refreshes. Among the changes he says could be coming to the device:

A new magnetic band locking mechanism.

A thinner case.

A new microLED display for improved clarity and color fidelity.

A larger battery.

The long-rumored blood pressure monitor.

The main uncertainty in Gurman’s report concerns the timing. He ties this landmark launch to the Apple Watch’s 10-year anniversary, but followers of the company will immediately point out that the original model landed in 2015. Basic maths tells us that if you launch one product per year (which Apple has done with its smartwatch if you ignore extra models such as the Series 0 and SE that sit outside the normal numbering system), the 10th such model will appear on the ninth anniversary of the original, not the 10th.

For what it’s worth, Apple had the opposite issue with the iPhone. The iPhone X arrived in 2017, 10 years after the original model made its debut, but had to leapfrog the 8th-gen and 9th-gen models to get there.

Gurman squares this issue by offering two potential workarounds: Either Apple lengthens the refresh cycle of the watch, as it did with the iPad (although he concedes this is unlikely) or it pegs the anniversary to the original announcement of the Apple Watch, which took place in 2014, rather than to its actual commercial launch.

Whenever it lands, the Watch X looks set to be, like the iPhone X, an unmissable launch. Assuming Gurman’s sources have got this one right–by no means a given, particularly this far from the planned launch–Apple must be furious that the news has leaked ahead of the Series 9 announcement (alongside the iPhone 15) next month. What was already going to be a quiet launch will now have an even tougher job of persuading customers to crack open their wallets.

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