APPLE WATCH Meets HERMÈS For Its First Collaboration — Updated With Details

's new product announcement event is still going on as we type this, but the biggest fashion news for the tech giant was pushed to the front of the agenda as its first Apple Watch collaboration was announced with none other than the most luxe of the luxe, Hermès.
Is that exclusive enough for you?
This was a development that was conspicuously not bandied about by the tech blogs which have been breathlessly reporting on rumored product developments for the past few weeks (giant iPad Pro with high tech pencil stylus confirmed), so it was a genuine surprise.
The Apple Watch Hermès will be available in October at select retailers. it comes with a classic single strap, signature double tour (see image above) or wider cuff strap, all with a customized Hermès watch face. Perhaps this is the push that was needed to get the Apple Watch into real luxury players like Barneys and Neiman Marcus. So far we have no price info yet for the watches, but stay tuned. We will update as soon as more information is released.

Now that Apple has updated the Apple Watch page, we can offer some more specific details about the new collaboration.
For starters, these are emphatically not separate bands for individual purchase as has been reported by some outlets, but only sold with Apple Watches in polished stainless steel and a custom Hermès face that will only be available on these models. Here are the prices for the three styles:

Double Tour in 38mm with four band colors: Fauve, Etain, Capucine, and Bleu Jean
- $1,250
Single Tour in 38 or 42mm with Fauve or Noir bands. Capucine band only in 38mm
- $1,100 and up
Cuff in 42mm with a Fauve band
- $1,500

The Cuff style has a cut-out in the back of the watch to allow the heart rate sensor to be in contact with the wrist. So far, we do not know if versions of the band can also be purchased with the gold Apple Watch Edition, but it is not listed as an option on the site.
As for stores that will be carrying the watch next month, there are only 17 North American retail outlets listed including Apple Stores in Eaton Center and Yorkdale in Toronto, Aventura and Miami Beach in Florida, The Grove in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Hermès boutiques to be selling the watch include Beverly Hills, Miami and San Francisco. The only third party retailer listed so far is Maxfield in Los Angeles. In New York, the watches will be available only at Hermès on Madison Avenue and the Apple Stores on Fifth Avenue, Prince Street in SoHo and Broadway on the Upper West Side.

After the jump, click to enlarge some official images of the three styles


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Reservations For In-Store Apple Watch Purchasing Start Today

ApplewatchbagConcluding one of the most excruciatingly protracted product rollouts we have ever witnessed, Apple has finally opened up its reservation system for making Apple Watch purchases in its U.S. stores. Created to avoid the outsized queues of shoppers clamoring to buy the coveted timepiece on a first-come-first-served basis, the system now allows customers to choose a model on the Apple website and then choose a store based upon availability along with a designated time to stop buy in pick it up in a specially designed paper bag. While the watch has been available to be shipped directly through Apple for a few weeks now, buyers would have generally had to make the purchase before seeing the item in person and would also have been precluded from paying in cash if they so desired. Customers will now be able to walk out of a store with them starting today. Shoppers will be required to bring I.D. and will be able to try on the model before making a final decision and purchasing in the store.
The new system should mollify the amazingly cranky neighbors of the newest Apple Store at 74th Street and Madison Avenue who are still fearful that the store will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood with long hours and even longer lines of customers on the sidewalks there for product launches. The real test will come in September when the next iteration of the iPhone will presumably become available, but by then we are betting that the furor over the new store should have died down.

Apple opens up US Watch retail reservations, shoppers get unique bags (AppleInsider)


Want To Buy An Apple Watch
At The Apple Store?
Wait Until June, Maybe July

AppleWatchEditionBasically, there is no product launch this season that can compare with the Apple Watch.
It has captured the imagination of the gadget-buying public like nothing else, and it though it will start shipping next week for an April 24th delivery to lucky early bird pre-orderers, we won't see it in stores for at least a couple of months. Anyone who thinks that they can line up outside the city's various Apple Stores to get first dibs will be sorely disappointed come next Friday, and if you see someone trying, you are now officially allowed to taunt them and throw things at them.
Well, maybe not throw things, but feel free to tell them not to waste their time.
No less credible a source than Angela Ahrendts, Apple's head of retail, sent a memo to employees this past week informing them that there would be no stock available for walk-in customers on the 24th, and there probably wouldn't be any until June, possibly July —which is why the company has been previewing the new line in stores before it becomes available to purchase in person. She writes in the memo, reprinted by The Telegraph,

"It's important to remember that Apple Watch is not just a new product but an entirely new category for us," she wrote. "There's never been anything quite like it. To deliver the kind of service our customers have come to expect — and that we expect from ourselves — we designed a completely new approach. That's why, for the first time, we are previewing a new product in our stores before it has started shipping."

Supplies are reportedly so tight that pre-ordering after an in-store examination may be the only way to buy the watch from an official outlet for months to come, perhaps until it is time to launch the inevitable Apple Watch 2 .One result of this will likely be discouraging the alleged straw purchasers who clogged lines outside stores last Fall when the iPhone 6 launched. It is widely believed that these customers, willing to wait in extensive lines repeatedly, were diverting their purchases to international gray markets where the phone was not yet available. Ahrendts, however does not make mention of this in her memo, rather stressing that a unique new product needs to be rolled out in a slow and controlled manner. There is also no suggestion that this will become the new standard procedure for other launches, so when the presumed new iPhone (6S? 6C?) is released this fall, we can reasonably expect to see a return to the familiar sight of lines of customers sweeping down the sidewalks.

Apple Watch won't be available in Apple's retail stores until June at the earliest (AppleInsider)


Luxury Apple Watch Edition To Be Sold In Only 53 Stores Worldwide

The long awaited Apple Watch hits stores today, but just to look at.
If you are thinking of having a closer look at the luxury Apple Watch Edition, don't think you can just wander into any Apple Store and stroll up to a table to get your paws on it. All viewing for the luxury model is by appointment only, which can be set up here. While there were rumors that Apple was in discussion with prominent luxury retailers to launch the watch, it looks like the gleaming gold version will not be available at Colette in Paris where an exclusive preview party was held during Paris Fashion Week in October or at any other third party store except for Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Isetan in Tokyo which all have permanent leased Apple retail stores under their roofs. The Edition model will be restricted to only 53 select Apple stores worldwide for the launch. According to AppleInsider, only 21 of those locations are in the U.S. including the Fifth Avenue flagship, SoHo and Broadway and 67th Street on the Upper West Side. Most of the other locations are concentrated on the East and West coasts with the exceptions of two Chicago Area stores and one each in Dallas and Houston. Internationally, the Edition model will be sold only in Canada, Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan at no more than three points of sale in each country. In all of continental Europe, only five stores will have it, which is a tiny breadth of distribution compared to other luxury watch brands. The only other country with more than three points of sale for the Edition will be Mainland China which will have it in 12 of its 19 Apple stores in addition to all three Hong Kong stores.
More than any other product launch in the past, Apple is encouraging hungry customers to pre-order all models of the Apple Watch online. There will be no stock available for walk-in customers when the watches officially hit the market on April 24th, so don't look for lines around the corner forming in the days before the 24th. This should be a disappointment to the legions of alleged gray-market cash purchasers we saw last Fall when the iPhone 6 was released, who may be part of the reason behind this policy. As of this morning, pre-order supplies for the launch day were swept up within minutes of becoming available online. Ship times for back orders are already at four to six weeks and are expected to go higher before the end of the day. If you haven't already secured one, then you should prepare to be very patient.

Apple Watch Edition initially limited to 53 retail outlets worldwide (AppleInsider)


The Apple Watch Is Coming In 46 Days
And It Is Everything

This morning on the news, newscasters noted that the big Apple Watch announcement was scheduled for today, and the big question was whether or not people would really want such a device?
Well, we watched most of the presentation and, trust us, you will want one.
Even supermodel Christy Turlington —an early adopter who was allowed to test it out while running a half-marathon— loves hers.
Endless column inches are being written at this very moment, so we won't bore you with the technical details. For that, we suggest checking the dedicated sites like AppleInsider, but here is some of the basic information you will want to know:

  • The watch will be available to examine in person at Apple Stores on April 10th, which is just about one month away. Pre-ordering online will begin on that date.
  • It will ship on April 24. Expect it to sell out immediately, and look for lines comparable to the worst iPhone lines. Will we be seeing packs of shady cash only smugglers bogarting product? Almost definitely.
  • There are two sizes in each of the basic styles with a price difference of $50 depending on the size. Apple Watch Sport in high-tech aluminum comes in 10 models starting at $349 for the 38mm and $399 for the 42mm. The stainless steel Apple Watch comes in 20 different models starting at $549 - $599 for the fluoroelastomer sport band model and going up to $1,049 - $1,099 for the Space Black case with matching steel link bracelet. Faces can be downloaded and changed at whim, and bands for the steel models are interchangeable, but additional ones must be purchased separately.
  • The 18K gold Apple Watch Edition (pictured above) comes in 8 models starting at $10,000.
    Tim Cook only specified that it would be available at "select" retailers, which suggests a very limited exclusive or semi-exclusive distribution befitting watches in that price category. Rumors have Nordstrom in negotiations to carry it, and we suspect that Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf's, Barneys and Saks have been targeted as well as a few major jewelers. Expect an announcement closer to the launch date, probably not before the end of March regarding exactly who will carry it.

So there's the basic when-where-and-how-muchinformation we have right now. If you were wondering if it would be appealing, then rest assured that it is. You will be able to talk on the phone with it like Dick Tracy! Not to mention all the other kinds of features and uses it will have.
Will you want to give up a beautiful vintage Rolex or an elegant Cartier watch to wear it? Well, that's a different question. It may lose its luxury cachet if as many people who carry iPhones are also wearing Apple Watches, even with the customizable face displays. How it will affect the analog timepiece industry remains to be seen, but it's hard not to imagine at least a temporary dent in business for traditional watchmakers.
Anyway, what we do know is that there will be frenzy at the apple store on April 24th. Brace yourselves early adopters. It's going to be along wait in line.


Apple Watch Set To Arrive In April

The most anticipated tech item of the year finally has a vague release date —just in time for ...Father's Day?
Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly revealed in a conference call on Tuesday that the  (Apple) Watch, first officially announced last September, will be ready for release this April, which is just under the wire for what was originally projected as an "early 2015" launch. Though a Holiday Season 2014 was always considered unrealistic, many industry analysts had expected a slightly earlier launch for the already heavily hyped item. Cook also indicated that there is no shortage of developers working furiously on software for the device.
Now what remains to be revealed is not when, but how the watch will be launched. Naturally, one expects that it will be available through Apple's own stores and website, but we may see the watch launched as more of a luxury item than a tech device. Shortly after it was first announced, Apple held a special preview at the Paris boutique Colette for fashion industry insiders during the unveiling of the Spring 2015 collections, which suggests that we may be more likely to see the watch's initial launch in stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's than at licensed resellers like Best Buy. Then there's the 18 karat gold Apple Watch Edition (pictured above) whose price, estimated to be in the several thousand dollar range, has yet to be announced, which is expected to be restricted to a highly limited distribution strategy including exclusive jewelers who may have never an Apple product before at all. While this may be new territory for even an upscale tech company like Apple, there is a depth of luxury experience in the company's Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Sales Angela Ahrendts, who came to the job from a position as CEO of Burberry. These details are probably going to be revealed in the next couple of months, but don't be surprised to see Neiman Marcus, Saks and even Nordstrom or Barneys vying over who who might get an exclusive on the item's launch.
And if anyone else is planning a major product launch this Spring, expect to be majorly eclipsed.

Apple Watch on track to ship in April, CEO Tim Cook says (AppleInsider)


Apple WATCH Makes Its First Public Appearance In Paris At Colette

You would think that it would be here in New York at the 24-hour Cube on Fifth Avenue, or at least in San Francisco, closer to the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, but the much anticipated Apple Watch or, WATCH, if we are to make the most of our keyboard, made its public debut this morning for one day only at Colette in Paris (window pictured above). While the coveted item will still not be available to purchase until early next year, unveiling it at an event coinciding with Paris Fashion Week signals Apple's interest in positioning the Apple Watch as a fashion item. It also suggests that the more exclusive 18 karat gold "Edition" model, expected to retail for thousands of  dollars, will find its way into leading luxury retailers to sit in cases alongside more rarefied timepieces.

Aside from giving the fashion flock its first look in person at the Apple Watch, the event allowed the company to show off its new senior vice president of design, renowned industrial designer Marc Newson who was instrumental in designing the Apple Watch. He celebrated alongside his good friend, longtime Apple designer Jony Ive as well as fashion luminaries like Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes and Karl Lagerfeld (have a look at the image from Menkes' Instagram below). Why Colette? It remains one of the most influential stores in Paris and, possibly, the world, and it also was among the first non-electronics retailers to offer an odd little mp3 music player in 2001 called the iPod.

When the watch will appear in New York for us to have a look at it remains to be seen. The Colette event was only rumored in the past few days. When it does finally appear here, it may not show up at the Fifth Avenue Cube, but rather across the street at Bergdorf's, around the corner at Barneys or maybe even at Dover Street Market. After all, Apple stores are still pretty busy with the iPhone 6 launch right now, and the Apple Watch is apparently looking for a more exclusive environment. We will be on the lookout.

Apple Unveils Watch at Colette (WWD)


Apple's iPhone Lines Get Hijacked By Black Market Straw Purchasers

As most people with any working senses know, Apple's newest iPhone models launched last Friday to another round of blocks long lines and truly insane camping out for days in front of Apple Stores in New York and in many other cities to be the first customers for the coveted new device. While the story has become familiar over the past few years, The Shophound noticed something odd while walking past the Apple Store on 14th Street on Friday (pictured above). Even in the mid-afternoon, the line still extended well down the block, containing several hundred people, and, for some strange reason, it appeared that the vast majority of them —at least 90%— were Asian. Now, before you get your hackles up, there is nothing wrong with this. We aren't making any judgements, but it did seem odd that in Manhattan, the group of customers who were willing to spend hours in line would be so demographically lopsided. We aren't experts in Asian languages, but it appeared that they were Chinese speakers and, as a group, didn't seem like the young, tech-crazed type of people who would subject themselves to waiting in line for hours just to be among the first people to get their hands on a coveted device that will be easily accessible to anyone within a few days.

We didn't think much more of it until the next day when we came across a post on Gothamist which suggested that the lines in front of Apple's stores were packed with straw buyers purchasing iPhones for the Chinese Mafia. The article pointed to "Filmmaker and professional fun-haver" Casey Neistadt, a tech fan who has chronicled the annual frenzy over iPhone releases for the past few years. Neistadt was struck with the observation that, when the doors finally opened, what he saw among those who had doggedly waited for days to buy the new iPhone was not the excitement fans finally getting their new toy, but a new grim determination of people who had a task to accomplish and just wanted to get it over with. While The Shophound would not presume that the Chinese Mafia (whoever that would actually refer to) is explicitly behind all of this straw purchasing, Neistadt's video (embedded after the jump below) identifies a pattern of buying among the many Chinese speaking line-waiters, many of whom apparently needed a Mandarin translator to communicate with the filmmaker. Purchase two unlocked phones in cash. Hand the phones off or re-sell them to a second post-purchaser a few blocks away who stockpiles bag of new phones to be sent off to —well, who knows where?

The presumption is that the phones are being sent to China, where governmental red tape has kept Apple from announcing a release date for the iPhone 6 and it is unavailable for legal purchase. According to the Washington Post, the new devices are already selling there on the Black Market for up to 10 times their U.S. purchase price. Neistadt suggests that a network of smugglers has descended upon New York's Apple Stores, and, though he backtracked somewhat from the Chinese Mafia accusations in a later interview, it seems clear to any observer that there is some real organization behind the effort to get iPhones into some kind of unauthorized reselling channel which is artificially packing the huge lines outside Apple Stores with straw purchasers. Without them, it seems unlikely that these lines would stretch for block after block. Many shoppers have reported that it is already fairly fast and convenient to pick one up at one of the city's many AT&T, Verizon or other mobile phone retailers —but, of course, those phones are for people who are actually buying for themselves as they come with service contracts.

Apparently, this activity falls into something of a legal gray area. The buying and immediate reselling is not illegal, and Apple has run into problems in the past trying to discourage sales of desirable devices that they thought were being funneled into unauthorized channels. What is questionable is the presumed smuggling that happens after the observed handoffs. Neistadt's video also documents some unfortunate behavior by NYPD officers assigned to patrol the overnight lines, and some altercations among those in line which makes one question the safety (and sanitation) of having these annual, several-days-long queues at all. At this point, it seems like the only reason why people would endure hours and days waiting on the sidewalk to buy a phone would be for a handsome profit or possibly a legitimate lack of sanity. Have a look at the video after the jump and make of it what you will. In the meantime, when The Shophound gets our new phone, we plan to order it on line to pick up in-store. No lines.

Video: Were iPhone 6 Mega Lines Taken Over By Chinese Mafia?, Filmmaker Discusses iPhone 6 Lines & "Chinese Mafia" (Gothamist)
iPhone 6s being sold for insane amounts of money in China (Washington Post)

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Now You Can Customize Your Sunnies At Garrett Leight's MOD SHOP


It's already August, but the Summer isn't over just yet. If you have made it this far without the perfect pair of sunglasses, then you are running way behind the curve. Lucky for you, California eyewear designer Garrett Leight has just introduced a convenient solution to you sunglass deficiency. The the MOD SHOP is now open at GarrettLeight.com, allowing any shopper the opportunity to customize their new shades online by model, lens color, frame color and size to make the perfect, unique, only-for-you sunglasses. You can even choose a polished or matte finish, and see a 360° view before you make your final choice. The five different versions of the Kinney Sun frame pictured above are but a fraction of the combinations available, and Leight's elegant options will keep you from getting carried away with an unseemly mix of components. Though customized orders are final sale, they will get turned around in 5 to 8 business days, which give you plenty of Summer left to show them off to your envious friends who might even still be wearing —heaven forbid— last year's sunglasses. Here is your chance to avoid this tragic fate for yourself.

MOD SHOP at Garrett Leight California Optical (Official Site)


Will Michael Bastian's Smartwatch Beat Apple's To Market?

  • Michael-bastian-smartwatch01
  • Michael-bastian-smartwatch02

While everyone is breathlessly awaiting an official announcement introducing Apple's long rumored iWatch, menswear designer Michael Bastian has collaborated with Hewlett Packard for his own elegant take on wearable tech. Apple's super-sleek designs for iPhone, iPod and iPad have garnered acclaim, but the jury is still very much out on whether pleasure in carrying and using such futuristic designs will translate into desire to wear them every day, particularly for people who have more sophisticated fashion tastes. We’re at the beginning of the wave, but the smart part comes before the visual part,” Bastian tells WWD. “We felt there was a need for something that feels like a watch first.” Bastian's design (pictured in the gallery above) is more specialized than what is being anticipated from Apple. It features a sizable 44-mm. stainless steel case and three interchangeable watchbands in black rubber, perforated brown leather and olive green. A limited edition all-black version is also in the works. The more traditionally styled timepiece will have a lighted dial inspired by luxury car dashboards. Inside, the operating system will be compatible with both Android and iOS devices and will offer access to emails, texts, calendars and a host of other information including stock updates, sports scores and, of course, weather to name a few services.

We know that the watch will launch this Fall, and will initially be available exclusively through Gilt.com. what we don't yet know is exactly how much it will cost, so there's still a little bit of mystery left for this particular product. 

Michael Bastian Creates Stylish Smartwatch (WWD)
Michael Bastian X HP (Official Web Page)