There are quite a few different models of Apple Watch, but perhaps the most confusing is the Apple watch Hermés, since it looks like every other model, but costs twice as much.
So what makes the Hermés version so expensive?
Well, it actually has nothing to do with the watch itself, and everything to do with the band. They only use full-grain leather, with a hypoallergenic type used on the back side to prevent skin reactions.
And since Hermés operates their own tanneries across France and Italy, they can meet demand for products like the Apple Watch, which sell in much higher volume than their own leather goods. And because of that high-volume, their Apple watch bands are actually some of the cheapest products Hermés sells.
Coming in at about a third of the price of their small leather key rings.
“But still, $340 could buy you a used Apple Watch. So what makes these leather bands so special?”
Wellll, it comes down to 3 things; materials, labor, and expertise.
You’re paying for some of the finest leather in the world, sourced and tanned by a specialty company. But how those materials are designed and assembled are another matter, there is no outsourcing to textile factories in China, or automated sewing machines that quickly assemble these bands in mass. They’re completely Handmade by artisans that have developed these skills through years of training and experience.
This leads to tangible benefits in the end product. For example, the latching areas of a watch band experience the most strain. So Hermés not only doubles-up on those last three stitches for durability, Hermés also cross-threaded for additional reinforcement. That way if a thread eventually breaks, there’ll be a backup stitch to keep the band together.
On average, it takes an hour for each artisan to put the finishing touches on the leather band, this includes stitching, hammering, sandpapering, dyeing, highlighting, polishing, smoothening, sealing, shaping, and assembly.
Requiring precise manipulation on such a small scale that a machine just isn’t capable of.
Apple’s logic behind their collaboration with Hermés was that they could provide the highest-quality smartwatch well Hermés could provide the highest-quality band, and that merging modern technology with timeless liberal arts is what Apple’s always been about, even if it comes at a premium price.