The fourth-generation Hermes Apple Watch infuses a legacy of Paris fashion into the best wearable Apple has ever produced, even if the experience isn't what it once was.
We've spent the last few weeks trying out two models of Apple's luxury wearable that combine exclusive watch faces with high fashion watch bands.
Hermes was established slightly less than 200 years ago in 1837. In the years since, it has continued to focus on high fashion luxury products, often made of leather. That is basically what you are getting when opting for the Hermes version of Apple Watch.
Instead of the paper wrapping of the boxes for the other models, the Hermes model comes in the designers' distinct orange with a slightly textured finish.
There are two boxes inside, one housing the watch and additional components, and the other the leather band that comes bundled with it.
When picking out your preference you only have to choose between the 40mm and 44mm sizes and which band you'd prefer. There is no non-cellular, aluminum, or black option available.
Apple partnered with Hermes to create the lineup of bands that are available both bundled with the watch and a la carte.
They include four distinct styles and come in several bold colors. The four styles include Swift Leather Double Tour, Swift Leather Single Tour, Fauve Grained Barenia Leather Single Tour Rallye, and Ebene Barenia Leather Single Tour Deployment Buckle.
We checked out the simple Swift Leather Single Tour bands on both our 40mm and 44mm Hermes Apple Watches.
Swift Leather is a common Hermes go-to when dealing with bright colors. It has the uncanny ability to absorb the dye and produce a vivid color, unlike most other leathers.
The bands are extremely soft and supple to the touch thanks to the fine-grain surface texture of the leather.
We've heard some question the thinness of the band and how it will hold up over time. This seems unwarranted in our time with the bands as the leather feels as if it will hold up well, though certainly shouldn't be used when working out, or if you expect there will be a lot of force applied to the band.
When it comes to workouts, that is part of the reason Apple includes the exclusive Hermes-orange Sports Band. Or, you can swap out any other band you'd like from your collection.
The face of luxury
In similar fashion to the Nike+ model of the Apple Watch, Apple has again included a custom watch face exclusive to the Hermes models.
There are a few options to choose from when customizing the face, including the typeface, the number of digitals around the face, the complications, and the colors.
Many of the color options match the band offerings that Hermes has made available, always a nice touch.
Something that separates the legitimate faces from, say, an image set as the background, is the animation that progresses throughout the day.
Our biggest complaint about the watch faces is that they still feel a bit limited. There aren't a ton of color or complication options. It makes things a bit limiting for users, who likely will resort to other faces in most circumstances for various reasons. Negating one of the reasons to go for the Hermes model in the first place.
Series 4 is a huge step forward
Apart from the band and the exclusive watch face, the Hermes models are the same as the standard stainless steel Apple Watches. That means all the improvements of the other Series 4 are reflected here as well.
We outline all of these improvements in our standalone Series 4 review, but we can summarize them here.
In short, the Apple Watch Series 4 is what Apple always new the popular wearable could be. The speed is finally where it should be — though the Series 3 was no slouch. Speakers are louder and clearer, the microphone works better by being relocated to the other side, fall detection will undoubtedly save lives, and the new heart rate features — such as the ECG — are going to be helpful when they finally launch.
The newly expanded display is also lust-worthy, though Apple needs to do a better job of putting more information on the display instead of just scaling certain content up. It is a similar problem Apple has encountered with the Max-sized phones.
A watered down luxury experience
One of the assumptions that come with buying a $1K+ Apple Watch is the elevated luxury experience that accompanies it.
Those who invested in the original Apple Watch Edition got several additional accessories bundled in including a long stainless steel charging puck, a lint-free Apple cleaning cloth, a Lightning cable, and a leather-wrapped box with suede lining and an integrated stainless charging puck. Later models ditched the box and instead included Apple's own spaceship-shaped charging dock.
Unfortunately, much of that experience has been watered down with the latest Hermes models that still warrant a large premium.
The cable is shorter than in the past, though it still retains the stainless steel shell (should be noted the standard stainless steel watches include it as well). There is no additional dock, no cleaning cloth, not even a non-charging box. For the added investment, you merely get slightly nicer packaging and an additional Sports Band.
Small things, like the Apple-branded lint-free cleaning cloth don't cost much, but it adds to the experience that goes along with such a premium product.
The remaining luxury option
This year, Apple has made the Hermes Apple Watch the sole luxury option. No longer is there the ceramic or gold Edition models.
When Apple originally pitched the Apple Watch, they wanted it to be seen as a fashion item. That sentiment is still felt, though it has faded a bit since its conception. Apple has now focused more on the watches strengths — health and information.
The Hermes version still nails those two, but it also adds a fashion element into the mix that the aluminum and standard stainless steel models lack just a bit.
While that luxury fashion experience has been watered down a bit since the original Series 0, it will likely still be enough for those looking for the most elegant Apple wearable.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Where to buy
For deals and product availability on other Apple Watch Series 4 models, be sure to visit our Apple Watch Price Guide.