By Bill Rigby
SAN FRANCISCO, April 15 (Reuters) - About 6 percent of U.S. adults plan to buy Apple Inc's smartwatch according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, with men twice as likely as women to purchase Apple boss Tim Cook's first new major product.
The poll showed the watch, marketed by Apple as a high-fashion item as well as a new frontier in technology, appealed to fewer than 4 percent of women compared with 9 percent of men.
Ipsos polled 1,829 U.S. adults online between April 8 and 14 about the watch, which opened for preorders last week. The poll had a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
If calculated based on 2014 U.S. Census projections, and excluding younger teens, this could mean potential sales of about 15 million watches, if those who said they intended to buy follow through with an actual purchase.
Wall Street estimates had varied widely between 10 million and 32 million worldwide sales in 2015. Van Baker, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner, said the Reuters poll results indicated a "pretty high percentage" was interested in buying.
"It should serve Apple well if they can even get close to that," he said.
As far as overall interest in the watch as opposed to intending to buy it, the poll showed that 18 percent of respondents were "very" or "somewhat" interested versus 76 percent who showed no interest.
Highest interest at 34 percent was among men aged 18 to 28, the same age and gender bracket that gave the watch the highest "cool factor" at 53 percent, compared with an overall 42 percent.
People around the world flocked to Apple stores on April 10 to try on the watches, which go on sale officially on April 24, and online orders quickly outstripped supply, with most customers facing at least a month's wait.
"I already have the iPhone, the iPad, pretty much everything that Apple offers," said poll respondent Sefu Grady, a 37-year- old counselor living in Clinton, Mississippi.
He said he was buying a basic Sport model for himself and a mid-range one for his wife for Mother's Day.
Apple has not yet said how many watches have been ordered, but CEO Cook described sales as "great." Shopping data firm Slice Intelligence and brokerage Cowen and Co estimated preorders on the first day at about 1 million in the United States.
Samsung Electronics, Sony Corp and LG Electronics have all released their own smartwatches, many of them powered by software developed by Internet company Google Inc.
None have given sales figures but independent researcher Smartwatch Group estimates that 6.8 million smartwatches were sold worldwide last year, led by Samsung with about 1.2 million units.
The Apple Watch, priced from $349 for a basic Sport model to a $17,000 gold timepiece, lets users check email, listen to music and make phone calls when paired with an iPhone. Reviews have generally praised its style but criticized battery life and slow-loading apps.
According to the poll, adults aged between 30 and 39 were the most likely buyers, with 13 percent saying they planed to buy an Apple Watch, followed by 10 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds.
Just under a third of respondents said they already own an iPhone.
Not surprisingly, iPhone owners are more likely to spend money on the new Apple gadget, with about 15 percent saying they planed to buy.
Among those polled who do not own an iPhone, 8 percent said they would consider switching to an iPhone in order to purchase an Apple Watch.
Baker at Gartner said many potential buyers will end up holding off until the second version of the watch, likely to appear next year.
"We may see a high level of interest. Apple will sell a few million fairly quickly, but then things might flatten out a little," he said. (Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Matthew Lewis)