Apple starts charging Apple Watch orders, preparing units for shipping

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Ahead of an official launch later this week, Apple on Monday began charging full Apple Watch order amounts to customer credit and debit cards, while updating the official status of certain orders from processing to preparing for shipment.

A number of readers informed AppleInsider that their credit card accounts are now showing Apple Watch order deductions, meaning Apple has processed their reservations and is preparing to ship out the device for delivery on Friday.

Certain customers are receiving word through app-based credit card alerts, specifically American Express card holders, while others have seen changes in their order status on Apple's My Account webpage. For example, reader Dan sent in the image above showing Apple is preparing his Watch order for shipment despite an estimated ship-by date of 4-6 weeks.

Today's order fulfillment news follows overwhelming preorder demand seen earlier this month. When Apple Watch went up for sale on April 10, initial supply dried up within minutes as customers saw estimated shipping times for many models slip to 4-6 weeks.

Apple is only accepting Apple Watch orders online and recently informed employees that the device won't be available for in-store purchases until June, at the earliest

Earlier today, analyst Carl Howe cited the stock-outs as an indicator of Apple's plan to keep inventory low in an attempt to accurately gauge interest across three distinct Watch models, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. He expects the new wearable to become an overnight success for Apple, one that could generate billions of dollars in revenues.

Exact preorder details are unavailable, though noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimates numbers will reach 2.3 million units. As production ramps up, Apple should be able to pump out two to three million Watches per month.