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Apple has announced that it will hold an event to formally launch the new Apple Watch in San Francisco on March 9.

Apple originally announced the Watch in September, but it has taken more than six months to bring the product to market.

And there’s another huge reason for Apple to hold an event — the new 12-inch iPad Air, which a source close to Apple says is ready for shipping. The new iPad Air is designed for business users, who like tablets but need more real estate on the screen to work with.

To date only the bottom end of the Watch line has had a price attached — $349. We expect to see the prices for the entire line of Watch models (Basic, Sport, and Edition) at the event in San Francisco. We’re also likely to see a whole array of bands, from basic to luxury, at the event. Analysts have speculated that Apple’s top of the line watch — the Edition Series — could sell for as much as $5,000.

Apple obviously has taken great pains to control the messaging around the release of the Watch. We’re seeing careful placements in various magazines (most recently, Vogue), and levels of unprecedented levels of secrecy demanded of Apple employees, partners, and developers.

This is a very big deal, folks. Apple is releasing more than a new product here. The Watch is not only its first entrant in a whole new category, but it’s arguably the company’s first entrant into the fashion and luxury items markets.

Apple has been very successful in managing the release of new products among tech buyers. It’s been good at using members of that crowd to slowly ramp up hype to a fever pitch at the time of the big reveal. But now it will be marketing to a whole new audience.

So it seemed odd that Apple would launch this potentially revolutionary product with a whimper. No, it should hold a new event — one where the tech world rubs elbows with the fashion world.

And that’s very likely what we’ll see in San Francisco. The event will be different from earlier announcements. The venue will be different, and the people will be different. Bono will probably not be there, but Donna Karan and Giorgio Armani might be.

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