The Apple Watch: A shining example of the growing industrial use of gold?
Apple are attempting to push the frontiers of “wearable tech” forward with the upcoming release of their latest product, the Apple Watch. Millions of the tech giant’s fans are anxiously waiting to get their hands on the new device, and for some hard core Apple enthusiasts, the latest offering in Apple’s much vaunted line of products will come with a hefty price tag following plans for an 18k Gold version of the watch set to retail upwards of $10,000.
Buyers of the watch are rumoured to receive VIP treatment from Apple on launch day – avoiding queues and receiving in depth demos as part of the deal. Some analysts have seen Apple’s latest offering as a bold move into the luxury sector of the retail market – competing with established brands like Vertu and Mobiado. Regardless of the company’s long term intentions, Apple’s choice of incorporating gold within its design decision for its upcoming watch highlights the prestige and value associated with gold. Although the gold edition of the Apple Watch may seem gimmicky on the surface, the company’s latest move nevertheless serves as a reminder of the important role gold plays within traditional manufacturing.
In tribute to Apple’s luxury smart watch – we examine the existing use of gold within the manufacturing processes of other industries to explore the varying uses of gold outside the traditional realm of saving an investment.
Electronics and Computers
Apple is not the first technology company to flirt with the idea of incorporating gold into its products – casting bling and luxury design aside, a small amount of gold exists in nearly every single consumer technology product on the market today.
Gold is a highly efficient electrical conductor capable of carrying micro charges, a vital property for nearly all electronic devices including televisions and mobile phones. Gold is also highly corrosion-resistant, and combined with the high speed with which it conducts electrons, is also found in high end communication devices and consumer laptop and desktop computers. Recycling companies estimate that there are 5 ounces of gold in 200 high end laptop computers, and up to 10 ounces in 10,000 mobile phones! Close to 1 billion cell phones are manufactured every year, and with a gold value of up to a dollar or more in each phone, that adds up to between $500m and $1bn dollars in gold demand every year!
Ultra high end technology also uses its fair share of gold. Gold plays an essential role in the manufacturing process of various products within the aerospace industry – where reliable products are often a matter of life and death. Gold is used to lubricate mechanical parts, conduct electricity and coat the insides of space vehicles to protect people inside from infrared radiation and heat. Space vehicles are fitted with gold-coated polyester film to reflect infrared radiation and to help stabilize core temperatures. Without gold, darker colored parts of spacecraft would absorb significant amounts of heat.
If extraterrestrial life truly is out there and they happen to stumble upon a man made satellite or space probe, gold will form one of their first impressions about the manufacturing process here on Earth! It’s hard to imagine their disappointment when they realize the civilization capable of such a marvelous feat of engineering was predominantly structured around a structure of debt and fiat currencies!
Dentists have been using gold as part of their profession for over 3000 years, with exceptional examples of gold filled teeth attributed to Etruscan dentists circa 700 B.C. Gold’s chemical stability and nonallergenic properties will continue to be the best option for replacing broken or missing teeth for the foreseeable future.
Jewelry manufacture remains the primary use of gold today, accounting for up to 78% of annual gold demand worldwide. Gold jewelry has been revered and highly prized throughout history, and played an integral role in many aspects of various cultures. Gold’s enduring properties remain highly sought after in modern times – particularly in Asia, where gold is often held in very high regard for economic, religious, and spiritual reasons. India and China are the biggest gold consuming nations on earth, and as the economic prosperity of both countries continues to expand – gold demand in all of its forms is likely to continue increasing.