In a joint interview with The Wall Street Journal, Apple design chief Jony Ive and Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas provided some insight into Apple’s new partnership with the French fashion house and where the company is positioning the Apple Watch in terms of luxury branding. Ive revealed that he approached Hermès about collaborating on the Apple Watch before the device had even been announced — an unusual move for the normally secretive company — and that the two companies decided to partner over lunch in Paris last October.
Ive noted that Apple also took a very unique approach in its partnership with Hermès, allowing the fashion company’s branding to display more prominently on the Watch, using three fonts that Hermès has long used in its own watches, and excluding the Apple name and logo from the Hermès user interface — the first time Apple has ever allowed another company’s symbols to upstage its own. While the new Hermès Apple Watch is far from either company’s most expensive offering, the $1,500 Hermès edition is clearly intended to enhance Apple’s positioning of the Apple Watch as more than a high-tech gadget, although Ive shies away from the idea that the Apple Watch is heading in a more exclusive direction in the manner usually associated with luxury goods. He stated that he doesn’t feel the attention that has been lavished on the Apple Watch Hermès provides it with any special status, indicating that even placed next to the lower-end Sport Edition, “there’s not one that had more care invested in its designing or making.” The new Hermès edition Apple Watch goes on sale Oct. 5 and will be available in Apple and Hermès stores in fourteen countries, with prices ranging from $1,100 for the 38mm classic bracelet version to $1,500 for the 42mm cuff version.