“We are not announcing the numbers,” Tim Cook said, not for the first time, at a Wall Street Journal conference Monday night.
“This is competitive information. I don’t want to help the competition. We shipped a lot [of Apple Watches] the first quarter, then last quarter we shipped even more. I can predict this quarter we will ship even more.”
That’s all Apple’s CEO—or anyone else at the company—is going to say about Apple Watch sales. But Cook’s words may have sent a signal to the market, which gave the stock a $2.04 (1.83%) nudge the next day.
Wall Street has had its doubts about Apple’s first wearable. Several influential analysts—including Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster and Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi—reduced their estimates this cycle. By Tuesday the average Q4 unit sales estimate among the analysts in Fortune’s panel—a mix of Wall Street professionals and seasoned amateurs—was 3.95 million, 20,000 Watches lower that Q3’s consensus.
I wouldn’t be surprised, however, given Cook’s remarks, if some of those spreadsheets weren’t recalculated before next week’s earnings report.
I’ll be monitoring the earnings call on Tuesday, Oct. 27—with or without Apple Watch results—and you can too. The conference with analysts begins at 5:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. PT) and will be webcast live.
Below: The unit sales estimates that have come in so far, with the pros in blue and the amateurs in green. The range—from 2.5 million to 6 million—is as wide as I’ve ever seen for an Apple product.
Thanks as always to Posts at Eventide’s Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.
Video link: Tim Cook asks the Journal’s Gerard Baker to give the Watch a chance.
Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple
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