By Rebecca Doulton
Hip or hype, the phenomenon of smartwatches has caused more ink to be spilled than the deluge of cheap quartz watches back in the late 1970s. Whichever way the pendulum swings on this one, and I personally doubt it will ever dent the traditional mechanical watch market, Apple Watches just got a whole lot smarter thanks to an injection of French luxury from Hermès.
Hermès and Apple, iconic brands for very different reasons in their respective countries, have joined forces to create the Apple Watch Hermès. Hermès is something of an anachronism in the galaxy of luxury goods and, to this day, one of the oldest family-owned and run companies in France. Possibly the last bastion of superlative craftsmanship, Hermès has never questioned its slow, artisanal approach to production. The alliance with Apple is not, however, as far-fetched as one would think and sits quite nicely with Thierry Hermès’ philosophy of making “useful objects beautiful” - a mantra upon which the brand renowned for its handmade saddles and harnesses was founded in 1837.
These unusual bedfellows marry together cool avant-garde Apple design and digital technology with the unique appeal of luxury hand-stitched goods. The watch straps will be available in single and double tour versions, as well as a wider cuff strap, and will no doubt appeal to those who want to reconcile the colder face of digital technology with the warmth of Hermès straps.
The Apple Watch Hermès not only comes with a choice of leather straps, it incorporates the Hermès logo on the dial, and a few subtle design details to evoke the elegant dials of Hermès’ already consolidated line of watches.
Earlier this year we saw how other luxury watch brands tested the smartwatch waters without getting totally wet. Frédérique Constant, Alpina and Montblanc all hopped on board the smart wagon, offering traditional-looking watches - some with mechanical movements such as the Montblanc watch - with discreetly camouflaged smartwatch functionality.
Apple Watch Hermès starts at $1,100 (US) for the 38mm stainless steel case with the single tour; $1,150 (US) for the 42mm stainless steel case also with the single tour; $1,250 (US) for the 38mm stainless steel case with the double tour; and $1,500 (US) for the 42mm stainless steel case with the cuff. The collection will be available at select Apple retail stores, select Hermès stores, and department stores beginning 5 October.