Apple Partners with Hermes to Offer Luxury Bands

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From the moment Apple Watch was announced in September of 2014, Apple has placed a special emphasis on the device as a fashion piece. They want people to understand that the Apple Watch is first and foremost a watch, and nowhere is this more evident than the fashionable and astoundingly expensive Apple Watch Edition. This focus on fashion and treating the Watch as more than just a gadget and smartphone accessory has likely contributed to the Apple Watch’s success, with more than 50% of smartwatches sold in 2015 being Apple.

Apple isn’t stopping there with it’s foray into the fashion world, however, and in October 2015 the Apple Watch Hermes was launched. Featuring handmade leather bands by French luxury brand Hermes and custom watch faces designed by Apple, the Apple Watch Hermes represents Apple’s first partnership with a major fashion brand.

Hermes, a big name in fashion and luxury goods, was established in 1837; the company originally produced high-quality harnesses and bridles for carriages. Today, they specialize in leather, luxury goods, clothing, and perfumes, and have shops around the world. They are especially known for their handcrafted leather goods; one handmade bag can take as long as 24 hours to finish. Apple says its partnership with Hermes is based on “parallel thinking, singular vision, and mutual regard,” and the partnership was apparently negotiated before the Apple Watch was even revealed to the public.

The Apple Watch Hermes combines handcrafted, high-quality leather bands from Hermes with a unique Hermes watch face created by Apple designers. The watch case is made of stainless steel, like the standard Apple Watch line; the only physical difference is Hermes branding on the back. The Hermes watch face also features Hermes branding and is only available from this collection. It is a fairly minimal face, with numbers arranged in a square shape against a black background. The watch also comes with all the standard Apple watch faces, if you’re not a fan of the special Hermes face.

The real stars here are the leather straps made by Hermes. There are three styles to choose from: Single Tour, Double Tour, and Cuff. Availability and color choice depend on the watch size you want. Single Tour is a standard leather watch band, with some nice stitching running the length of the strap and a buckle that Apple says is a throwback to Hermes’ roots in equestrian gear. This strap is available in 38mm in Fauve (brown), Noir (black), and Capucine (red); it is also available in 42mm in Fauve and Noir.

hermes-double-loop-etainThe Double Tour is basically an extra-long Single Tour that is designed to wrap around the wrist twice, creating a unique and stylish look. It features the same stitching and buckle as the Single Tour. The Double Tour is only available in a 38mm size, and comes in four colors: Fauve, Etain (gray), Capucine, and Bleu Jean (blue).

hermes-cuffThe Cuff is another unique strap. This is a thick strap which Apple says is “inspired by equestrian fixtures.” Probably due to the size of the band, the Cuff is only available in a 42mm case size and only comes in one color, Fauve. It is also the most expensive, which makes sense since it appears to use significantly more leather than the other styles. These Hermes straps are exclusive to this collection and can’t be purchased separately, although they do feature the standard Apple Watch connectors and therefore can be swapped out with other bands if you want to change things up.

Speaking of purchasing, the Apple Watch Hermes is being positioned as a luxury product, with prices to match. The Single Tour starts at $1100 for a 38mm watch and jumps to $1150 for a 42mm. The Double Tour will set you back $1250, and the Cuff is $1500. Although this isn’t cheap, it’s definitely within the realm of high-end watches, and a logical step up from the higher-end stainless steel Apple Watches.

The Hermes collection is available for purchase in select stores and online; in-store availability is limited to Apple and Hermes stores in select cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, London, Milan, and a handful of others in Europe, Asia and North America. The collection is also available on Apple.com and Hermes.com.

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