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A Design Intervention That Makes The Apple Watch Chic — And Hermés Relevant

apple-watch-Hermes-strapApple, as Mahesh Rao pointed out in a previous blog post, makes products that intervene in people’s lives. When I read what he had to say, I too wondered wistfully, why we in the jewellery industry couldn’t come up with products like that.

As a jewellery designer, I would aspire to coming up with a product that would intervene in a consumer’s social life and make a style statement about her or him. State what she or he stands for. As a designer, I also believe that design is what will drive the consumer embracing our product as a “must-have” in today’s world, where technology is a normal part of life.

I’m now ecstatic to report that a design house has made an intervention to infuse new life into an Apple product. I’m talking about the new partnership between Paris fashion house Hermés and the Apple watch. The tie-up between the two in actual terms is pretty simple and straightforward — Hermés will provide its branded leather straps for the Apple watch.

The impact of this tie-up, however, goes far beyond a simple brand connection between the world’s most famous technology company and one of the globe’s leading fashion brands. The partnership is moving Apple’s watch firmly into the fashion arena. Conversely, it is making an old-name Paris fashion brand suddenly very relevant by linking it to a cutting-edge technology product like the Apple watch.

The technology reviews that followed the debut of the Apple watch were mixed. The software wasn’t the smooth, seamless driving force that we have come to expect in all Apple products. In the style department, the Apple brand, though known for the simplicity and reductionist beauty of its design, isn’t perceived in the same way that luxury brand designs are. Put together, both factors saw to it that sales of the Apple watch didn’t exactly light any fires anywhere.

Inject the Hermés name now and introduce an iconic fashion statement like the “double tour” strap that circles the wrist twice rather than just clasping it, and suddenly, the Apple watch moves into the realm of chic. Add the Hermés watch face — a simple addition to the many options that the Apple watch provides anyway — and suddenly you have a product that is now desirable for a variety of reasons including haute couture. Hermés plans to launch the customised watch on October 4, in the middle of the Paris fashion week.

Long live the power of design!

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