Behind-the-scenes feature shows how Apple Watch has veered away from high fashion

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited March 27
The high fashion theme of Apple Watch marketing has all but disappeared, in stark contrast with some of the publicity stunts it arranged for the first-generation launch in 2014 and 2015, a report noted on Wednesday.

Beyonce posing with her all-gold Apple Watch Edition, customized for her by Apple.
Beyonce posing with her all-gold Apple Watch Edition, customized for her by Apple.


At one point the editors of Fashionista and the British edition of Vogue -- Lauren Indvik and Alexandra Shulman -- both flew out to a Cupertino event in the middle of New York Fashion Week, one of the biggest events in the high fashion calendar, the New York Times said. During what is arguably the most important event, Paris Fashion Week, Apple held an unveiling at the Parisian luxury boutique Colette, attended by no less than superstar fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.

When Colette began selling the Watch, there was a line of over 150 people, even though there were multiple Parisian Apple stores.

One prelaunch event in October 2014 included a dinner with fashion designer Azzedine Alaia and Watch designers Jony Ive and Marc Newson. Guests included executives, designers, and editors from brands like Balmain, Vogue, and Comme des Garcons, as well supermodels Cara Delevingne and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Even celebrities unrelated to fashion were there such as musicians Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz.

Apple hired multiple executives from the fashion world, such as Tag Heuer's Patrick Pruniaux, Yves Saint Laurent's Paul Deneve, and most notably former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, who with Ive helped redesign Apple stores to be more fashion-focused. That aesthetic remains in place, but Deneve, Pruniaux, and even Ahrendts are no longer with the company.

The first-generation Watch famously (or infamously) included an ultra-expensive Edition model starting at $10,000, thanks to its use of real gold. In some cases Apple handed custom Editions with all-gold bands to celebrities like Lagerfeld and pop star Beyonce, a tactic to ensure the Watch was talked about and envied in the right circles.

2016's Series 2 saw the Edition switch from gold to ceramic though, dramatically lowering its cost, and Apple dropped the Edition line entirely for 2018's Series 4. The company does still have two fashion options -- Nike and Hermes -- but even Nike is more about fitness than style, and Hermes models don't come anywhere near the cost of the gold Edition.





For most people, the only fashion aspects of the Watch they now encounter are Apple's seasonal band updates and third-party band options. Many are likely content with the bands that ship with the device.

Beginning with the Series 2, Apple's design and marketing focus has increasingly shifted towards health and fitness. The company frequently calls attention to the Watch's ability to detect atrial fibrillation, and the Series 4 includes an ECG sensor. Serious runners and weightlifters can pair a Watch with a chest strap for maximum heart rate accuracy.

Rumors regarding a "Series 5" Watch have only started to emerge -- but it's believed that Apple will try to add yet more sensor technology, workout options, and a return to a ceramic model.
patchythepirate

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,185member
    Well I just got my new Apple Watch 4 44mm a few days ago to replace my Original. Actually I'm going to continue to use my Original for Sleep Tracking. I think it'll be fine for that. That allows me to just swap my watches on the charger.

    Going from 42mm to 44mm, it's only 2mm difference, but looking at the screen, everything is so much larger. I didn't think it would really be that much of a difference. But really, a Apple Watch as High Fashion really didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Not then and not now. All the things it can do make far more sense and that should be what is pushed. As they say, you spend hours of your computer, Minutes on your Smartphone and Seconds on your Smart Watch. The Watch gets me off of pulling out my phone for every little ding, etc as I can just look at my watch quickly. You know when you pull out your phone to see what that ding is, you end up doing a few other things, and before you know it, you've been on it for the last 15 minutes for something that really should have been a few seconds. With the watch, it's a glance and then you're done.
    albegarcpscooter63ravnorodomsteveau
  • Reply 2 of 20
    I’m glad Apple picked the health route instead of continuously trying to make the watch a fashion statement. The gold watch was rediculous.
    Apple went as far as supplying all of its retail stores with safes to store the gold edition watches when only flagship stores would carry them.  

    I did like the look of the ceramic watch, but it still was way overpriced for what it was. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    The fashion thing probably made some sense at the outset, to make sure people felt like they looked good and not silly wearing them. It’s less of an issue with AirPods because you don’t typically leave them in your ears all day in various environments. But now that the watches are everywhere, this is less of an issue, and the idea of selling something so expensive that would be obsolete in a year or two was always a bit awkward. 
    sflagelmike1patchythepiratepscooter63ravnorodomJWSCGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 20
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,942member
    The fashion thing probably made some sense at the outset, to make sure people felt like they looked good and not silly wearing them.
    Yep. This is not a change of strategy. This was the strategy from Day 1. Move from celebrity-focused fashion statement that built awareness, recognition and acceptance to a more fitness oriented device for the premium-level masses. This was fully thought through from the day the Watch was approved as a product.
    patchythepiratewilliamhmacpluspluspscooter63GeorgeBMacwatto_cobrasteveau
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 683member
    The whole notion of the Apple Watch is intrinsically incompatible with fashion.

    Fashion is about personal distinction. Just look at the way women are embarrassed when two show up to a party wearing the same dress. 

    It crosses gender lines. Although very few wristwatches are one-of-a-kind, you’d be hard pressed to find two men in any social engagement wearing the same wristwatch. Men’s dress is stifling and uniform; watch enthusiasts spend hard cash on them because it is a subtle, socially acceptable form of expression, if not outright peacocking. 

    Which is, you know, fine. Just like long nails were originally fashionable because they broadcasted that the bearer didn’t need to do manual labor, fashion watches will come to broadcast that the wearer is important enough that he can afford to not be connected "around the clock." 

    that said, dang I’d love me a white ceramic model… what an awesome material. gimme a white ceramic backed iphone too, I can use it to bludgeon the angry villagers when the revolution begins
    designrwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    NemWanNemWan Posts: 118member
    Early Apple Watch marketing parallels that of the very first digital watches by Pulsar 40 years earlier, down to the celebrity influencers and the stainless steel and gold versions at similar price points (adjusted for inflation). That was omnimous, because Pulsar was hot and then it was not. Once digital watches became a cheap commodity, Pulsar couldn't adapt and maintain its high-end market. Pulsar did foresee a health application by introducing a digital pulsometer in one of their last models, but the whole concept of a wearable computer was way ahead of its time, the display and battery technology wasn't good and even today we can't combine the ability to display any image with the ability to see the time at all times, simply by looking with no action required to activate it. The challenge has always been to make a tiny powered screen useful, indispensable enough to replace a tiny mechanical clock. The fear of death and hope that a smart watch will alert you to heart danger manages, just barely, to compete with the fear of being late for something.
    JWSC
  • Reply 7 of 20
    Apple is becoming a victim of its own success. Having an iPhone in your pocket is one thing but when people are all walking around with the same watch and airpods sticking out of their ears, it does look a little like 1984. I'd hope that they'd have a little more flexibility with designs when they do eventually release a pair of glasses considering most of the hardware should be independent of the lenses and frames, unlike on a watch face.
    edited March 27 dasanman69
  • Reply 8 of 20
    The 'high fashion' angle of it all was such an embarrassing and stupid move on Apple's part, to begin with.

    I think the same will/should happen with AppleTV+ (or whatever it was called) -- unless you're a geriatric, not too many people care about Spielberg, Oprah, Anniston/Withewrspoon, etc. (Where were the Millennials/Gen Z-ers?!)
    dasanman69designr
  • Reply 9 of 20
    Roger_FingasRoger_Fingas Posts: 148member, editor
    The 'high fashion' angle of it all was such an embarrassing and stupid move on Apple's part, to begin with.

    I think the same will/should happen with AppleTV+ (or whatever it was called) -- unless you're a geriatric, not too many people care about Spielberg, Oprah, Anniston/Withewrspoon, etc. (Where were the Millennials/Gen Z-ers?!)
    Spielberg is a big deal for most generations - this is Mr. Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, and Indiana Jones, after all. Younger people will certainly know J.J. Abrams given Lost, Cloverfield, The Force Awakens, and so on.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 20
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,025member
    I’m glad Apple picked the health route instead of continuously trying to make the watch a fashion statement. The gold watch was rediculous.
    Apple went as far as supplying all of its retail stores with safes to store the gold edition watches when only flagship stores would carry them.  

    I did like the look of the ceramic watch, but it still was way overpriced for what it was. 
    Apple can and should do both. Fashion on the exterior, science internal this is how watches have always "worked". For most men a carefully chosen time piece is their only real accessory or piece of jewelry. I want to see and am confident the Apple Watch will evolve even further in appearance than the iPhone. 
    edited March 27
  • Reply 11 of 20
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,025member
    The 'high fashion' angle of it all was such an embarrassing and stupid move on Apple's part, to begin with.

    I think the same will/should happen with AppleTV+ (or whatever it was called) -- unless you're a geriatric, not too many people care about Spielberg, Oprah, Anniston/Withewrspoon, etc. (Where were the Millennials/Gen Z-ers?!)
    Said the Crocs wearing person. Seriously Apple's products and style helped bring it back to life with the Bondi Blue iMac. If it were another beige box we would not be reading this website today. 
    fastasleepwatto_cobrasteveau
  • Reply 12 of 20
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,457member
    Fashion is impossible without a clock face.
    A black screen of death isn't very fashionable or inviting (the same is true for an iPhone or iPad).
    Even a blank piece of paper is better.
    designr
  • Reply 13 of 20
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 763member
    My interest in the Apple Watch has changed in inverse proportion to how much of a,”fashion” item it was.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 14 of 20
    spice-boy said:
    The 'high fashion' angle of it all was such an embarrassing and stupid move on Apple's part, to begin with.

    I think the same will/should happen with AppleTV+ (or whatever it was called) -- unless you're a geriatric, not too many people care about Spielberg, Oprah, Anniston/Withewrspoon, etc. (Where were the Millennials/Gen Z-ers?!)
    Said the Crocs wearing person. Seriously Apple's products and style helped bring it back to life with the Bondi Blue iMac. If it were another beige box we would not be reading this website today. 
    What's a Crocs?
  • Reply 15 of 20
    the regular updating of bands is a call to fashion in a sense. i keep on buying bands to make sure the watch works well with the clothes i’m wearing. maybe apple felt the consciousness of fashion had already been built around the watch. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 20
    jbdragon said:
    Well I just got my new Apple Watch 4 44mm a few days ago to replace my Original. Actually I'm going to continue to use my Original for Sleep Tracking. I think it'll be fine for that. That allows me to just swap my watches on the charger.

    Going from 42mm to 44mm, it's only 2mm difference, but looking at the screen, everything is so much larger. I didn't think it would really be that much of a difference. But really, a Apple Watch as High Fashion really didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Not then and not now. All the things it can do make far more sense and that should be what is pushed. As they say, you spend hours of your computer, Minutes on your Smartphone and Seconds on your Smart Watch. The Watch gets me off of pulling out my phone for every little ding, etc as I can just look at my watch quickly. You know when you pull out your phone to see what that ding is, you end up doing a few other things, and before you know it, you've been on it for the last 15 minutes for something that really should have been a few seconds. With the watch, it's a glance and then you're done.
    As they say, you spend hours on your computer, Minutes on your Smartphone and Seconds on your Smart Watch. I spend days on the iPad.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 20
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 3,285member
    They used fashion and influencers to normalize the smart watch. Otherwise it'd be a trickle of nerds wearing them and slow adoption by the normals. Now you see them everywhere. No need for the fashion push anymore.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,269member
    The original Apple Watch was mostly, as we see today, an underpowered cell phone extension.   So, Apple needed a way to market it.   Plus, it ran the risk of being labelled a gadget for Geeks and other undesireables.   So, marketing it as a fashion trinket made good sense because it opened it up to the general population.

    Now Apple really needs to nail and grow the true strengths of this monster.
    1)  As a safety device for older people.  There has never been such a product for older people -- easy to wear, waterproof (for in the very dangerous shower), heart rhythm, fall detection, easy access to help, etc...   But too, it can function for medication reminders and probably a lot more.
    2)  The health promoting exercise and activity features still feel very undeveloped.   They are a good start but, they lack scope and power -- chief among them is the "health app" where exercise data goes to die lost in tiny little meaningless graphs...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 20


    Now Apple really needs to nail and grow the true strengths of this monster.
    1)  As a safety device for older people.  There has never been such a product for older people -- easy to wear, waterproof (for in the very dangerous shower), heart rhythm, fall detection, easy access to help, etc...   But too, it can function for medication reminders and probably a lot more.
    2)  The health promoting exercise and activity features still feel very undeveloped.   They are a good start but, they lack scope and power -- chief among them is the "health app" where exercise data goes to die lost in tiny little meaningless graphs...
    You nailed it on elders. This group increases their health spending later in life, according to spending studies. Give them reasons, and they’re ready to buy the Apple Watch. Too many companies ignore the elder health market because they don’t want their brand associated with them.  Millennials especially in Silicon Valley don’t want to think about wrinkled people and it’s against their self image. So, it’s left to other companies who only want to sell to the saturated Medicare reimbursement market selling catheters, hospital socks, wheel chairs, etc.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,269member
    the monk said:


    Now Apple really needs to nail and grow the true strengths of this monster.
    1)  As a safety device for older people.  There has never been such a product for older people -- easy to wear, waterproof (for in the very dangerous shower), heart rhythm, fall detection, easy access to help, etc...   But too, it can function for medication reminders and probably a lot more.
    2)  The health promoting exercise and activity features still feel very undeveloped.   They are a good start but, they lack scope and power -- chief among them is the "health app" where exercise data goes to die lost in tiny little meaningless graphs...
    You nailed it on elders. This group increases their health spending later in life, according to spending studies. Give them reasons, and they’re ready to buy the Apple Watch. Too many companies ignore the elder health market because they don’t want their brand associated with them.  Millennials especially in Silicon Valley don’t want to think about wrinkled people and it’s against their self image. So, it’s left to other companies who only want to sell to the saturated Medicare reimbursement market selling catheters, hospital socks, wheel chairs, etc.
    True!   Aside from the ageism you describe, part of the trouble is the misperception that debility and disease are inevitable consequences of "aging" rather than consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle.  And, that is coupled with the medicalization of "aging".

    (Yes, shit happens, especially as you get older.  But that doesn't mean one has to make the last 20 years of one's life one of disease and debility with an unhealthy lifestyle.  And the AppleWatch Series 4 LTE is a tool to help keep healthy seniors healthy)
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