As iPads are old news already, we focus on the trendy bit of the presentation: the new Apple Watch with Hermes specifications. And by specification I mean a set of well-crafted leather straps and a sprinkle of French design. But do high-tech and tradition mix well?
Many things have been said about the styling of smartwatches but, to their credit, Apple didn’t go all wild and sci-fi with the design of their watch to start with, so the timeless makeover they aimed for was quite successful.
First of all, the dial doesn’t bring massive changes, other than a small upgrade of the watch face inspired by classic Hermes watches. Beyond that, there are 3 new leather strap options, again all classic Hermes style, “borrowed” from their iconic timepieces and crafted by French artisans.
The stylish Double Tour could prove the most popular option, with the extra-long wrap-around strap available in four colours: Fauve, Etain, Capucine and Bleau Jean. Which, translated in English, means brown, grey, red and blue. But if you’re indecisive, you can get more than one strap and easily replace them, like with regular Apple watch models. You will need to pay attention to the dial size, as this model is only compatible with the 38mm stainless steel case.
On the other hand, the simpler Single Tour watch comes in both sizes (38mm and 42mm) and 3 colour options (no blue here, unfortunately). The simple buckle is a classic nod to Hermes’ equestrian heritage and it also makes this watch the “cheapest” of the lot, with prices starting at $1100.
Last but not least comes the Cuff watch, with a more defined equestrian inspiration and adapted to suit the heart rate sensor better. This only comes in 42mm case size and Fauve strap, so you’re less likely to worry about your girlfriend borrowing your Hermes watch. Although for $1500 you may want to keep it under lock anyway.
But does this grant Apple the luxury status they crave? I’d say they’re still in for a bit of a wait to get that. While most complex technology is a hallmark of a lavish lifestyle, the world of watchmaking has completely different standards when it comes to the definition of luxury. From the fascinatingly intricate Opus Eleven by Harry Winston to the simplistic classic that is the Patrimony from Vacheron Constantin, there is no one criteria set in stone to be part of this select group. Right now, the Apple watch is just an interesting quirk among all these and it needs at least some more time to gain the reputation.
My ultimate verdict on this collaboration? It turned a watch into a timepiece. I know it’s technically the same thing, but I always considered the likes of Audemars Piguet or Jaeger LeCoultre as creators of timepieces – not just watches – ones that are works of art in every aspect. Apple obviously focuses on a different sort of complication, a work of technology more than anything, but with this update, it gets an air of fashionable, one that might get a little more attention from non-techies.