Apple Store goes down ahead of Apple Watch preorders

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Apple took down the Online Apple Store late Thursday night as the company made preparations for what is expected to be an onslaught of Apple Watch preorders.

Apple's online storefront is scheduled to open up for Apple Watch preorders at 12:01 a.m. Pacific, 3:01 a.m. Eastern on Friday. Earlier today, Apple announced that initial Apple Watch orders would be limited to online sales, expecting huge demand for its first foray into wearables.

"We are excited to welcome customers tomorrow and introduce them to Apple Watch, our most personal device yet. Based on the tremendous interest from people visiting our stores, as well as the number of customers who have gone to the Apple Online Store to mark their favorite Apple Watch ahead of availability, we expect that strong customer demand will exceed our supply at launch," said Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts. "To provide the best experience and selection to as many customers as we can, we will be taking orders for Apple Watch exclusively online during the initial launch period."

Pricing starts at $349 for Apple Watch Sport, while the stainless steel Apple Watch version ranges from $549 to $1,099. Solid gold Apple Watch Edition models start at $10,000.

Following in-store previews and preorders, both of which kick off today, Apple Watch is slated to ship on April 24 to brick-and-mortar Apple Store locations and specialized boutiques including colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles and The Corner in Berlin and select Apple Authorized Resellers in China and Japan.

Those planning to buy an Apple Watch when the Online Apple Store returns at midnight can prepare by taking a look at AppleInsider's preorder guide.