Apple products are highly touted for being extremely sleek and well-designed. While some companies opt to use cheaper materials in an effort to preserve the bottom line, Apple has a penchant for sparing no expense when it comes to manufacturing.
As a result, Apple not only opts to use the best materials available, but it's also willing to expend millions upon millions of dollars on advanced machinery and tooling processes that competitors either a) can't afford to use themselves or b) simply don't want to. Consequently, the build quality on Apple products is typically best in class.
Apple's next big game-changing product is the Apple Watch, slated for release on April 24. During Apple's recent media event, the company, as it's prone to do, showcased a video detailing certain aspects of the Apple Watch manufacturing process.
While much of the video likely went over the heads of those with no formal background in advanced machinery, Greg Koenig over at AtomicDelights has gone through the video frame by frame to let us know just what type of methods Apple is employing during the Apple Watch manufacturing process. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of high-tech wizardry and engineering involved in crafting the products that ultimately wind up on Apple store room floors.
Jonny Ive often speaks of care. It is an odd word to use as it doesn't imply the traditional notion of "craftsmanship" in the classic, handmade sense. Nor does it imply quality or precision in the way a Japanese car manufacturer or German machine tool maker would. "Care" implies a respect for the raw materials and end result, with little concern about what it takes to link those two ends of the production chain together, and we see that highlighted with the Watch. Apple could very easily have forgone forging to create stainless steel cases, just like everyone else. Hardening gold alloy with cold working could have been eliminated, putting them on par with the rest of the industry. Nobody will see or feel the inside pocket for the microphone on the Sport, yet it has been laser finished to perfection.
I see these videos and I see a process that could only have been created by a team looking to execute on a level far beyond what was necessary or what will be noticed. This isn't a supply chain, it is a ritual Apple is performing to bring themselves up to the standards necessary to compete against companies with centuries of experience.
Koenig's entire post is well worth a read for anyone with even a passing interest in how seriously Apple takes the manufacturing process. Often times, Apple is not simply content to go along with whatever industry standard happens to be in place. On the contrary, the examples Koenig points out helps illustrate that Apple is constantly trying to push the envelope to create the best products on the planet.
Videos of the manufacturing process that were shown during this week's event can be seen below.
And last but not least, the Gold Edition Apple Watch: