While most Apple Watch owners will be anxiously awaiting their deliveries this morning, some stores around the world are actually selling the new smartwatches without the need to order online. That might sound surprising given Apple’s continued warnings of online-only orders, and a rather unusual launch experience for its latest gadget. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out and buy one in a few places around the world, though; I bought one in London a couple of hours ago, and it was easy enough to find one in Tokyo as well. I’m not entirely sure why I’ve bought an Apple Watch, but I have, and it’s sitting on my wrist as I type these words. I cover Microsoft at The Verge, and the software company has been rather active in supporting the Apple Watch recently, so that’s my excuse for owning one, I think.
A beating Apple heart
I ventured out to Dover Street Market in London to buy an Apple Watch. It’s a boutique with six levels of fashionable items that vary in price, and the store is doing appointments for Apple Watch try ons. It’s not the type of retail store where you feel out of place, or that you’d need to wear the most expensive piece of clothing you own to even step inside. That’s kind of why the Apple Watch fits in well in the store. As you walk through the entrance there’s an LED-powered beating Apple Watch heart emoji on display, complete with the sounds you’d expect. It’s bizarre, but it’s one of a kind, and it’s there to let passersby know the Watch has arrived.
Read next: Read our Apple Watch review.
Like the previews at Selfridges and Apple’s own retail stores a couple of weeks ago, there’s one small wooden table with a variety of Apple Watches under glass. You can try the devices on and then purchase the model you want. Although Dover Street Market had watches in store, it had a limited range of bands available. I tried on a variety of models and Apple has supplied employees to Dover Street Market to manage the process. The whole thing was rather relaxed. I’ve only ever lined up for an Apple product once, largely to experience the insanity of the occasion, but this was very different. It was chilled, there weren’t long lines, and it felt a lot more personal.
A small orderly line in London
The line outside was small, around 20 or 30 people in total at the time I arrived, and only a couple of people decided to wait out all night. This wasn’t your typical crazy Apple launch, but then the company didn’t really want it that way. While Apple did note that watches would be sold in boutiques, it buried that detail in a press release and told the wider public to order online. That message appears to have worked, but Dover Street Market’s phone didn’t stop ringing while I was at the till, so it’s clear there are people clamoring to get a Watch on launch day.
In Tokyo, too, the Apple Watch was available at the Ginza branch of Dover Street Market. But in an odd twist, major electronics stores Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera also carried the Watch for sale. The Yurakucho branch of Bic Camera, for example, had sold through most of its stock by mid-afternoon, but most 38mm Sport editions remained available, along with the Classic Buckle steel Apple Watch in both sizes.
With Apple Watches available in boutiques, consumers may have to wait until June to purchase a device from Apple's own stores. That's the word from a leaked memo, and there's only one location in the US — Maxfield in Los Angeles — that will have Apple Watches on sale today.
Sam Byford contributed to this report.