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Fans rush for first look at the Apple Watch

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The Apple Watch became available to pre-order on Friday and fans around the world flocked to the stores to get their hands on the latest product from the U.S. tech giant.

In London, Apple opened a special pop-up shop within iconic department store Selfridges, right next to many of the luxury watchmaker kiosks – evidence the Cupertino, CA-based giant wants to be seen as a luxury timepiece player.

But unlike many Apple product launches, there were no fans queuing around the block because customers won't actually be able to walk out of the store with a watch. They are only available for pre-order and will be delivered on April 24. Apple has been encouraging people to book online in order to select a slot to try the watches on.

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Still, this did not stop some of the Apple faithful turning up before the doors of Selfridges swung open, although the small rush died down very quickly. Many fans touted the brand's cool factor and the Apple Watch's design as reasons for buying one.

"I like the Apple products because they are cool and so simple to use and I want to see how far the smartwatch has come and what they can do," Dominic Meister, a Swiss national on holiday in London, told CNBC.

Phil de Cours, another punter has already purchased one online and is now coming to try it on. He said that he would mainly use the device for fitness purposes.

"I bought one because I like the style. It has and unique look and I'm going to use it mainly as a fitness tracker," he told CNBC.

When asked about why he didn't buy a cheaper alternative, de Cours said that the other devices on the market "look ugly".

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Apple touted the design of the Watch when it launched in March and the devices have many interchangeable bands. In an attempt to create exclusivity and capture a high-end luxury audience, Apple even released an 18-karat gold version known as the Edition which starts at $10,000.

The Apple Watch sport starts at $349, while the Apple Watch stars at $549. The launch has been global and people in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S, can now place a pre-order.

After being available for pre-order from 12:01am PDT on Friday, many of the most popular models on Apple's online store are only available in June and most models will only be available in mid-to-late-May, highlighting the pressure Apple will face to satisfy demand.

(Overlooked in all the hoopla over the Watch is the fact that another Apple product also launched today—the ultra-thin MacBook. Of the three versions being sold—Black, White, and Gold—orders for the Gold edition are already backed up by three weeks.)

As well as Selfridges in London, Apple has opened stores in Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Isetan in Tokyo. The Watch is also available from local Apple stores.

The Apple Watch launch at Selfridges, London
Arjun Kharpal

Similar enthusiasm for the Apple Watch has been reported in Australia and Japan.

On Friday morning Apple's flagship Australian retail store in Sydney's financial district was packed with those hoping to peek at the device.

Alexander Bock, a backpacker from Germany, stood outside the shop's towering glass facade. He hopes to save enough money to buy the sports version of the watch, he said.

"I feel naked without a watch. I think I will buy the Apple watch with the sports band ... I'm working very hard right now so I can buy this watch," Bock told Reuters. (Tweet This)

This is Apple's first foray into wearable technology, despite many competitors such as Samsung and Motorola already releasing several versions of their own devices.

A range of estimates have flooded in regarding how many Apple Watches will be shipped with JPMorgan predicting Apple shipping 26.3 million units in calendar year 2015, and Bernstein projecting 7.5 million units to be sold in the second half of 2015 and 20 million sold in 2016.

Critics have questioned the high price tag of even the starting model given competitors' cheaper prices. But for the Apple faithful, this is an afterthought.

"If they work fine I don't care much," Meister told CNBC.

As of 8:30 a.m. ET Friday, these are the wait times for the 38 different models of watch Apple put on sale Friday.

Reuters contributed to the writing of this report.

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