WATCH OUT: “Fashion is popular culture; technology is popular culture,” Marc Newson mused Tuesday morning at Colette, where Apple unveiled its first smartwatch, due out early next year.

Tapped by the California tech giant for special projects, Newson worked on the device, which boasts a range of interchangeable straps with magnetic fasteners. “The fashion industry has an enormous amount to offer in what we do in industrial design because fashion is fast, fashion has its finger on the pulse,” said Newson. “There are very few creative industries that work on that rhythm.”

This story first appeared in the October 1, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of design at Apple, was on hand to show top editors the intricacies of the devices, which can tap the wearer on the wrist to signal messages from friends. “There’s something new in their utility,” he said, noting the ease of the various bracelets. “At Apple, we care enormously about design. This is definitely the most personal product we’ve done because it’s worn.”

Sarah Andelman, creative director and purchasing manager at the landmark concept store on the Rue Saint-Honoré, said she dialed Apple Inc. the minute the iPod was revealed in 2001, adding it to the store’s mix of fashion, music, beauty, books, food and accessories. “It’s complementary,” she said of such products as smartphones — and now smartwatches.

“The wrist is the best place to wear technology,” said Newson, who has also designed timepieces for Ikepod and collaborated with brands ranging from G-Star to Louis Vuitton, stressing that it’s “not a big dopey, plastic, horrible thing.”

Instead, he views the Apple Watch as “reinventing a very traditional typology” that dates back to the 19th century, and prized for haute craftsmanship.

“We love the idea of a watch in a traditional sense, not a piece of technology you wear on your wrist, which is what it is,” he said. “There are probably three or four generations that never grew up with watches. I have a seven-year-old daughter. She saw me wearing one and she said, ‘Daddy, what’s that?’”

Later that evening, Azzedine Alaïa hosted a dinner for Ive and Newson at his sprawling Marais headquarters, welcoming the likes of François-Henri Pinault, Delphine Arnault, Alber Elbaz, Olivier Rousteing and Comme des Garçons’ Adrian Joffe.

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