Apple has submitted a trademark for 'iWatch' in Japan, it has emerged.
The discovery of the application has all but confirmed that the tech giant is set to enter the wearable technology market.
A patent official today confirmed that the Cupertino-based company's submission was made on 3 June but only released on the website of the Japan Patent Office on 27 June.
If successful, the trademark would cover computers, computer peripherals and wristwatches. How long the process could take is currently unknown.
The iWatch has been the source of much speculation over the last few months, with many expecting the device to feature in last month's WWDC conference.
That obviously didn't happen, and in the few weeks between then and now, there have been several developments from other companies, in terms of wearable hardware.
Google's notorious Glass is still the device making the biggest waves here, but the launch of Sony's SmartWatch 2 and noises from Intel about a wrist-based device users can text from, have all got people talking.
There have also been movements in this area from Apple's biggest rivals. Samsung earlier this year confirmed it was working hard on a watch, while Google and Microsoft were subject to similar reports.
Apple's last brand new device was the iPad, which debuted in 2010.
The iWatch could bring a much-needed boost to Apple, which many believe has lost its position as an innovator in the post-Steve Jobs era.
The firm has been going through a damaging period of late, its stock tumbling by around 40 per cent since the launch of the iPhone 5 in September 2012.