SAN FRANCISCO — It’s not often that there’s a line outside San Francisco’s Hermes store — especially at 10 a.m. on a Monday. But it’s also not often that two companies known for iconic designs meet for a luxurious pairing.
Today, Apple seemed to come farther than ever in its venture into the world of fashion, as the Apple Watch Hermes arrived in both selected Apple stores and Hermes boutiques worldwide. As the watches aren’t available online or via pre-order, lusty fans needed to buy one at a physical retail location; 15 U.S. stores had them in stock, but as the day wore on, the selection quickly dwindled.
San Francisco’s Stockton Street Apple store opened at 9 a.m. to a small line of customers. According to some Apple employees, some customers were local, while others had flown in from out of state just for the occasion.
The watch comes in three styles, and the early favorite was the “Double Tour” style, which has a wraparound leather band reminiscent of a popular Hermes watch style. (To the chagrin of one loyal Hermes shopper, the 42 mm does not come in the Double Tour style.) The bands are interchangeable with other current Apple Watches, but the Hermes bands, unlike the Apple Watch bands, are not available separately. Apple Watches start at $349, while the Apple Watch Hermes starts at $1,150. Although it’s a step up from most Apple Watch styles, it costs one-half or less than traditional Hermes watches.
Those buying Apple Watch Hermes, Apple employees said, were a mix of both men and women, primarily in the 27- to 40-year-old range. The first customer to leave with a telltale orange shopping bag (the classic Hermes packaging color won out in this partnership) was from nearby Pleasanton, an Apple employee said. While she didn’t know anything about the tech, she came for the Hermes. (She came in wearing a double tour from Coach, WWD was told.)
Changxu Chen, a 20-year-old photography student from China, was wearing an Apple t-shirt and an original Apple Watch, and he decided as soon as the partnership was revealed in September that he would spring for an Apple Watch Hermes. He elected the Single Tour in fauve, at $1,150.
Although it’s not a limited run, the availability of the watches are limited, said an Apple employee, simply because they are handmade in France. Some customers, finding that their preferred style was sold out at Apple, walked up a few blocks to join the line at Hermes, which opened an hour later than Apple. Those without an appointment (likely Apple fans not accustomed to shopping for timepieces at Hermes) were left to wait for an opening — and to hope that their preferred style and color (of which there were five in total) was still available.
An Hermes employee said that her regular customers knew to make an appointment in advance, but many she’d met with were new customers to Hermes.
One man at Hermes, wearing a t-shirt and jeans, called himself a “techie,” but although he likes tech, he said, he doesn’t like to look like it. He didn’t normally shop at Hermes, but he came for the watch. His girlfriend, he said, didn’t want one — she said she preferred a “real” watch.
The day was a big one for both companies. Hours earlier, the Hermes runway show was in Paris, and the day also marked the four-year anniversary of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ death. And it’s not often that Apple shares logo space with another brand; does anyone remember 2004’s iPod+HP? But, say executives from each company, this pairing — reportedly two years in the works, before Apple Watch was even unveiled — makes perfect sense.
“Both companies are motivated by a sincere pursuit of excellence and the desire to create something that is not compromised, “ said Apple chief design officer Jonathan Ive in a release about the partnership in September. And Hermes executive vice president in charge of artistic direction Pierre-Alexis Dumas compared the combination of the 178-year-old Hermes with the 39-year-old Apple to a horse and carriage — “a perfect team.”
Although many styles were sold out just two hours after their availability, Hermes is happy to add to its wait-list. And, of course, there’s always the “regular” Apple Watch in the meantime — although WWD hears that the comparable saddle brown classic buckle bands, at $149, are already in limited supply.