Exclusive: A behind-the-scenes look at every Apple Anniversary Award and how they’re crafted

Exclusive: A behind-the-scenes look at every Apple Anniversary Award and how they’re crafted

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Earlier this week, a video from DongleBookPro popped up on YouTube showcasing the special “Anniversary Awards” that Apple gifts to employees. The awards are handed out at 10-year, 20-year, 30-year, and 40-year milestones.

The video offered a look at the 10-year version of the award. Now, 9to5Mac has gotten its hands on images showing all of the designs, production details, and more. “Time flies when you’re changing the world,” Apple says.

Apple’s Anniversary Awards program

9to5Mac obtained a number of documents from multiple Apple employees detailing the company’s Anniversary Awards program. These include images of the awards, details on the production process, and more.

The program rewards long-tenured employees as they cross certain milestones. The physical Anniversary Award was originally made from crystal, but Apple refreshed it with new designs made from aluminum and stainless steel in 2019.

Apple announced the new program in 2018 at the company’s all-hands meeting, telling employees that “extraordinary milestones deserve extraordinary awards.” During that meeting, Apple VP Deirdre O’Brien said:

Every day, people at Apple put heart and soul into their work. Weʼre so grateful to all of our people and especially to those whoʼve contributed so much year after year. Weʼre fortunate to have these special awards to recognize that commitment.

Apple told employees that it made the switch from crystal as “an evolution as we move forward,” noting that the “crystal has a very special place in our company history.”

The 10-year and 20-year designs are made from aluminum, while the 30-year and 40-year are made from stainless steel. On the design and production process, Apple says:

Staying true to Appleʼs commitment to the environment, the awards start as remnants from the production process, using the same metals and the same iconic colors as our products. Those pieces are collected and reformulated to create custom alloys. The alloys are cast into long ingots and then sliced into blocks and machined into the finished size. The surface of the aluminum awards is polished, blasted and then specially anodized. The stainless steel awards are lapped to achieve a stunning mirror finish.

Oh, and thereʼs more. The chamfered edges are diamond-cut. The stainless steel logo is also lapped to a mirror finish and set in a precisely machined pocket on the award. And then each awardeeʼs name is laser-etched on to the side of the award, along with the anniversary date.

As you would expect, the company spent quite a bit of time perfecting the design and production process. When the new award design started shipping in 2019, Apple designers and engineers had been working on it for more than two years. It was a collaboration across multiple teams, including Industrial Design, Manufacturing Design, and more.

The awards have been crafted with the same painstaking care and meticulous design as any Apple product and wouldnʼt have been possible without a huge collaborative effort from teams throughout Apple including, Manufacturing Design, Industrial Design, Operations, Logistics, Packaging Product Design, Packaging Engineering Project Management, Marcom, People, Finance, Communications, Legal, Procurement and Facilities.

More tidbits:

  • For the 10 and 20-year awards, Apple uses the same recycled aluminum that goes into the Mac mini and MacBook Air.
    • “These are monolithic blocks that are cast in 12-foot ingots and then sliced down,” Apple says.
  • The 30-year and 40-year awards are solid blocks of stainless steel.
    • The 30-year award has had its weight reduced: If it were truly solid stainless steel, it would weigh about 35 pounds. Itʼs made in two halves that are then laser welded together seamlessly and then lapped.
    • The 40-year award is made very similarly, but the top and bottom are also joined seamlessly later after a special color coating process.
  • There are around 25 to 30 steps that go into the manufacturing of each award, not counting the fulfillment and packaging.
  • The employee’s name is laser-etched on the right side of the award, along with the anniversary date.
  • Five-year anniversaries are honored with a framed plaque signed by Tim Cook.

The new awards started shipping to employees in 2019. You can check out some images below. If you know more about this award (or anything about Apple), you find my contact information here.

The aluminum 10-year and 20-year awards, and the stainless steel 30-year and 40-year awards

“For the 10 and 20-years, weʼre doing an all fiber-based packaging, including all of the wraps and the box structure. For the 30 and 40, because of the high-polished surface, we are putting in a microfiber cloth so the customer can keep it nice and clean.”

In order to reduce the weight brought on by solid blocks of stainless steel, the 30 and 40-year Anniversary Awards are made in multiple hollowed-out pieces, which are then welded together invisibly.

The old 10-year award made from crystal, alongside the new 20-year aluminum award

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