Apple prides itself on being at the forefront of technology, yet when it comes to the luxury market it has proven less successful.
That’s been a particular issue with its much-trumpeted Apple Watch, a piece of wearable technology that needed to score highly in terms of style to earn the seal of approval of fashionistas.
While some may point to flaws in the design of the watch that failed to excite, some feel there are more fundamental issues with Apple trying to crack the luxury market.
As Guardian fashion editor Jess Cartner-Morley observed: “The watch also wasn’t quite fashionable enough because the Apple brand isn’t a luxury brand. Apple stands for a purity of design which is democratic in its simplicity, and it does that brilliantly, but it lacks the lush, covetable depth of a luxury brand, the magnetic pull that makes people spend crazy money on, say, a Birkin.”
Yet Apple is not a company that rests on its laurels. With that in mind it is looking to redefine its product and bridge the gap between its technological safety net and the realms of the luxury market, earning its place among the high-class items on the pages of How To Spend It.
To achieve that, Apple has entered into an intriguing partnership with Hermès to release a watch that calls on the talents of the French fashion house.
Each has a leather hand made band, with prices up to about £1,000. The end result channels the popular Hermès Cape Cod, Clipper and Espace model, while retaining the ethos of an Apple gadget. The double and single bands come in a range of colours as well as tan leather, perfect for the equestrian inspiration for this premium product.
The single tour comes with 38mm and 42mm Stainless Steel cases while the double tour – which goes around the wrist twice – comes with a 38mm case.
The product also sports a signature Hermès cuff.
With characteristic French style, Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas said: “I see it as the establishment of an alliance in excellence; like horse and carriage, a perfect team.”
The collection is being sold at Apple stores and selected Hermès stores as well as some speciality and department stores across the globe.
The Australian Financial Review think the partnership works well for both parties. Its review states: “It introduces a world of exclusive luxury and fastidious detail to Apple’s cool tech-savvy pool, enhancing it rather than disturbing it.
“If that’s a benefit for Apple, for Hermès the trade-off is just as delicious: it puts it in touch with folk it has barely met to date, and suggests it’s a company with not just a stellar past, but also a cutting edge future.
“The benefit for the consumer – in either camp – is a widening of choice and the ability to luxe-up an everyday device. They’re getting either the most expensive Apple Watch yet, or the least expensive Hermes timepiece.”
By redefining its watch, can Apple redefine the whole luxury market? Probably not, but it can certainly bring the market into its field and cater for a new clientele.