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Apple Watch pre-ordering survival guide — how to have fun while you snag the Watch you want

Apple will begin accepting pre-orders for its Apple Watch starting Friday at 12:01 AM Pacific Time with sales commencing at the same time in launch countries worldwide. Your ordering window will vary depending on your time zone with some unlucky people like me waiting until the early morning hours for the Apple Store to start processing Watch pre-orders. As a seasoned veteran who has been pre-ordering Apple products for years, I’ve learned a few tricks to help pass the time and successfully secure my device of choice. Read on to find out how you can fill your wait time with fun and end the process with an Apple Watch order confirmation.

With this product, pre-ordering is crucial as the Apple Watch will be sold online only. Unlike previous launches, you will not be able to stroll into the store to purchase a Watch on launch day unless you have an online reservation/order. You can prepare for the Apple Watch online pre-ordering frenzy by remembering these five “C”s — Contact information, Credit Card Details, Competitive Checkout, Caffeinated drinks, and Camaraderie. Take care of these five components, and you will enjoy waiting for the pre-order time to arrive and will fly through checkout with minimal issues.

Contact Information and Credit Card Details

Long before the pre-orders begin, you’ll want to review your contact information and credit card details. This information is stored online along with the Apple ID you use to make purchases at Apple’s retail or online store. Don’t overlook these details as they can make or break your Apple Watch purchasing experience.

Before you hit that purchase button on Friday, you should take some time to confirm that your online Apple account is configured with your current credit card details and contact information. This step is very important, especially if you just moved or recently received a new credit card in the mail. You don’t want to risk an order cancellation because your address is incorrect, or the card stored in your account has expired.

Having your account in order will also speed up the checkout process. It’s almost a guarantee that Apple’s servers will slow to a crawl when ordering begins. When things fall apart, you’ll want to step quickly through the checkout process and not be forced to enter in all your contact details. Pre-entering this information is especially crucial if you plan to order on your iPhone or iPad and don’t have access to a keyboard.

To update your details, you will need to login into your Apple Store account and double check your shipping and billing information. Just visit your account home, login using your Apple ID credentials and then select “Change your default shipping or billing information.”

Here you can review or change your payment information and your addresses for shipping and billing. You also can enable Express Checkout, which allows you to skip checkout when you pay for an item. Express Checkout usually is not available for pre-order items, but I would configure this feature on the off chance it might be a checkout option this time. If you don’t need Express Checkout for future purchases, you can turn it off again when you are done with the Apple Watch pre-order.

While you are in the store, you can check out the Watch options and select the model and band option(s) that you want to buy. If you find a combination that you like, you can favorite that item and store it in your online account. When pre-orders begin, you can skip the window shopping, hop to your favorites and checkout right away.

Competitive Checkout

As for the purchasing process, you can choose to buy online at Apple’s website or via the Apple Store iOS app. It won’t matter which one you choose — I sometimes switch between the two to see which one gives me a working connection that’ll let me complete the checkout process. The key is getting through checkout as fast as possible, so feel free to use multiple browser windows and the Apple Store app to find the shopping method that works best for you.

To get ahead of the competition, you also can start refreshing the Apple store site by refreshing the page before the 12:01 launch time. In the past, the store has come online 10-15 minutes early, allowing a handful of customers to purchase a device early. Other times, the store has been late, leading to much complaining among the faithful who are awake refreshing the app store when their more sane brethren are still asleep.

If the store crawls to a halt and the checkout process is filled with errors, try not to get frustrated. Keep trying to get through checkout until you reach the last ordering screen. When your order has been completed online, you can kick your feet back, but I would not call it a day yet. Stay online a little longer and wait until you receive your order confirmation email from Apple. This email is the definitive confirmation that Apple has received your order. It usually arrives immediately after a purchase is completed, but it can be delayed on pre-order days. I usually wait an hour after my purchase for the email to arrive and only shut down my computer after the confirmation lands in my inbox.

Caffeinated Drinks and Camaraderie

Before you can put your competitive checkout skills to the test, you have to be awake when pre-orders begin. While some time zones will be able to order during the daytime hours on Friday, most people in the US and Canada will be ordering at night. The West Coast has it the easiest with orders beginning just after midnight while the East Coasters will have to stay up until 3AM. If you are a light sleeper, you can catch some shut eye and use an alarm to wake you up ahead of ordering. If you are like me and oversleep because you turn off your alarm in your sleep, then you should break out the cola, coffee, or Red Bull to keep yourself going.

Remember that you are not alone in this online pre-ordering experience. There are millions of other people around the world who are awake and waiting to order their Watch. If you have local friends who are ordering, invite them over and turn your solo night into a purchasing party.

If your local friends are not into the Apple Watch, then hop online at Twitter and Facebook and look for others chatting about the Watch. During those hours, the noise on Twitter and Facebook settles down, and most of the conversation will be about the Watch.

Steve (@stevensande) and I (@kellyhodgkins) will be online, so look us up and say Hi. You can also host a Google hangout or even live stream your experience using Periscope or Meerkat. Half the fun of pre-ordering the device is hanging out with other people who are equally enthusiastic about Apple devices and crazy enough to stay up half the night for them.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!