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New Apple Watch production reportedly facing delays because of complicated design

Apple Watch Series 6 in blue

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple has delayed production of new Apple Watch models because it is encountering challenges manufacturing them, according to a new report in Nikkei Asia on Tuesday.

After starting small scale production, the company encountered disappointing quality after finishing assembly, according to the report. People who spoke to Nikkei attributed the production delay to a new, complicated design, including a new blood pressure sensor and water-resistance features.

Apple typically releases new Apple Watch and iPhone models in September or October, although the company has not yet announced a release event for this year. Apple doesn’t release Apple Watch sales numbers, but it is the largest component of Apple’s wearables division, which reported $30.62 billion in sales in 2020.

The report highlights the engineering challenges that Apple faces every year when it ramps up massive production lines ahead of a fall release to ensure that there’s enough supply of new gadgets to meet Apple’s prodigious demand after launch, while keeping its product release plans secret.

The Nikkei report gave no indication Apple might postpone its new Apple Watch launch, although it said that it might affect Apple’s plans after the new watches are unveiled.

Apple has a rigid prototype production system that continually builds larger numbers of unreleased products to work out assembly problems in the months before new products launch. After Apple designs a new product, its engineers fly out to contracted factories in Asia to work out problems in manufacturing to ensure that the company can build millions of devices in short time frames while adhering to the company’s quality standards.

Apple has faced production issues in the past that have affected fall launches, although the company doesn’t typically comment on its operations.

Last year, during the pandemic which snarled travel to Asia, two iPhone 12 models were released in October and two other models were released in November, both weeks later than Apple’s typical cadence. In 2017, Apple released a major iPhone redesign called the iPhone X, which was in short supply in the weeks after it was released in November after reports suggested that there were production issues with its facial recognition camera called Face ID.

Apple stock was flat during trading on Tuesday. Suppliers of parts for the Apple Watch were mixed. Qualcomm, which sells cellular modems to Apple, was up less than 1%.

Apple didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

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