Apple, Hermès Team Up for New Luxury Smartwatch

At its Sept. 9 product event, Apple announced a new partnership with French luxury brand Hermès to produce a co-branded version of its Apple Watch. 

The stainless steel Apple Watch Hermès boasts Hermès-designed leather straps and virtual versions of its signature watch faces. Price points range from $1,000 to $1,500. A gallery can be seen here

The new product will be sold starting Oct. 5 at select Apple and Hermès stores, as well at specialty and department stores. Apple did not specify which stores, and they are not currently listed on its site.

The new joint venture is a sign that the tech giant isn’t letting go of its quest to produce a high-tech timepiece that appeals to luxury and fashion shoppers. It recently enlisted New York’s London Jewelers to sell its 18k gold Edition model, making it the first, and so far only, U.S. jeweler to do so. Apple declined comment on whether it will target other jewelers. 

Hermès’ partnership with Apple is surprising given its past indifference toward smartwatches. As a parade of high-tech introductions monopolized press attention at this year’s Baselworld fair, managing director Guillaume de Seynes told Reuters his company had no plans to enter the smartwatch field. 

“For the moment, Hermès is observing what is going on,” he said. “We still do not know how the smartwatch market will evolve.”

In a statement, Apple chief design officer Jonathan Ive said, “Apple and Hermès make very different products, but they reflect the deep appreciation of quality design. Both companies are motivated by a sincere pursuit of excellence and the desire to create something that is not compromised.”

Apple is not the first tech company to join forces with a luxury brand. TAG Heuer’s first smartwatch is being developed in conjunction with Google and Intel. TAG Heuer is owned by LVMH, the luxury giant that has had an often-contentious relationship with Hermès, which is still run by its founding family and remains one of the few independent luxury brands. 

Apple has also introduced a new model for its high-end Edition line, which features a rose gold case and blue buckle and sells for $15,000. It can be seen here.

It has also updated the watch’s operating system, with more faces and greater support for third-party apps, which it calls “complications” in a nod to traditional watch terminology. 

JCK News Director