Instead of spending over $10,000 on a golden Apple Watch Edition why not use the Midas Touch USB, a DIY kit that uses electrochemistry to plate your boring old steel Apple Watch with 24 karat gold. Unlike the posers who have just painted the watch gold, this process actually chemically binds 24 karat gold to the stainless steel surface. The kit currently requires a stainless steel Apple Watch, but a new process to coat the Sport is in the works. Chemist Eric Knoll created the kit after hearing about the pricing for the Edition model. His goal was to make a gold version more affordable for the average Apple customer. The project is already fully funded and product will ship soon. While the chemical process is rather complicated, Knoll has broken the procedure down into 3 easy to understand DIY steps. First, the watch must be cleaned in a special solution to remove all oils and dirt. Although this step involves submerging the watch under water, Knoll assured me that the watch’s case can easily stand up to a quick soak. The second step is a pretreatment bath in dissolved nickel. The watch’s stainless steel is actually an alloy containing chromium, an element which prevents the steel from being plated. The nickel binds to the steel and neutralizes the chromium, thus allowing the steel to be plated with gold. The third and final step is the actual application of the gold plating. First the watch is connected to an electric current, which is done via a USB cable included in the kit. Next, the gold coat is added by brushing on a solution that consists of water and dissolved 24 karat gold. Unlike the gimmicky gold flakes found at gift shops, this solution literally contains individual gold atoms dissolved into the water. The electric current causes the gold atoms to literally “bind” to the steel, creating a gold coat. This, presumably, also voids the warranty. Ironically, Knoll said the hardest part of launching his kickstarter was finding an actual Apple Watch to test the process on. After posting multiple Craigslist ads, an early adopter volunteered his watch as a test subject, and the project was born. Since launching, the kickstarter has had over 150 backers, and raised over $20,000 dollars. While originally designed as a one-off project, Knoll is extremely happy with feedback thus far and is considering expanding the kit into a standalone business. So just how good is the finished product? Knoll said he walked into an NYC Apple Store last week and was offered VIP concierge service as soon as an employee saw the gold plated watch on his wrist. While his cover was blown when the manager used his Apple ID to look up his purchase history, Knoll’s antics prove that looking like a douchebag may not be that expensive after all.
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