The price tag may be a little over the top for some players but if you want the top of the line then you've arrived. Just look at a few of these features.
First of all this guitar has a urethane body finish and satin urethane finish on the neck. This is one of the hardest protective coatings that can be applied to wood and the satin finish on the neck will definitely keep the moisture out for years to come.
Moisture is the one factor than can wreak havoc on a guitar neck causing it to fluctuate over time and require adjusting. The applying a satin finish is a difficult procedure that Fender has mastered as you can tell if you ever get the chance to play one of these beauties.
As far as looks go this guitar is off the charts. The black fret dots on some models( showing note position on the frets is it's main purpose so you always know where you are if you need to look) are one of the signatures of this guitar made famous by Clapton.
There's also "component packages" consisting of all the "guts" of the Clapton strat that could be put in another kind of Stratocaster. Like pickup, pots, wiring, etc.
Here's more information:
Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Auction Catalog Book in 2004 ES 335 Stratocaster
Fender 2003 USA Maple Eric Clapton American Signature Stratocaster Neck
EMG Eric Clapton Stratocaster Pickups Fully Wired Set with Pick Guard
His tone is and was on the recordings incredible partly because of the pickups. What fender has done on this model is install the vintage noiseless single coil stratocaster pickups. these have special beveled edge Alinco magnets at their core which enables the pickup to have a concentrated magnetic field right where Fender wanted it and the magnet wire that is wrapped around these magnets which produce the output to the amplifier from the string vibration are coated with enamel.
Now if you've ever worked with a single coil pickup you know that noise can be a problem especially if your amp is turned up and you turn towards the amplifier or sometimes depending on your location. You get this annoying hum which a lot of players would put up with for the fender strat sound. Or you can use a noise reduction pedal but that can play with the sound a bit too much.
This noise problem has been completely eliminated in the Eric Clapton Strat Artist Series. The pickups are active meaning they don't require the magnets to be responsible for all the sound output. By going through the electronic circuitry all hum is eliminated plus you get the incredible Eric Clapton Stratocaster sound.