Apple Watch undergoes a Hermès makeover

Apple announced new finishes and bands for the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport at its event on Wednesday. Apple also announced that watchOS 2, the new version of its operating system, will be available on September 16.

Eric Risberg/AP
New bands for the Apple Watch are shown at a product display following Apple's press event on September 9, 2015.

Apple didn’t announce any sweeping changes to the Apple Watch at its event in San Francisco on Wednesday, but it did introduce some polish and additional options to the lineup. The company also announced a collaboration with luxury goods maker Hermès on a new version of the high-end Apple Watch Edition which will come with special leather straps.

The entry-level Sport model now comes with a gold or rose gold finish on an anodized aluminum body. Apple’s also keeping the previously-available silver aluminum and “Space Gray” aluminum finishes on the Apple Watch Sport, and all four finishes can be paired with rubber “sport bands” in a variety of colors. The gold and rose gold finishes will cost the same as the current models – $349 for a 38 mm case, or $399 for a 42 mm case.

A few journalists got to test out the new Apple Watch Sport models at Apple’s event. “Trying both on, they clearly aim for a more subtle variation of color and style than bolder Sport designs already available,” write CNET’s Dan Graziano and Scott Stein. “Considering that the Sport is the model most people own, it's a smart move.”

The Apple Watch itself now comes in a “Space Black” stainless steel finish, paired with a black sport band. Apple also introduced a few new bands for the Apple Watch, including black and “Saddle Brown” leather bands with buckles and a striated “Midnight Blue” leather loop. The pricing on Apple Watch models varies wildly, from $549 for a 38 mm stainless steel model with a sport band all the way up to $1,099 for a 42 mm Space Black model with a matching steel bracelet.

On the software side of things, Apple also announced that watchOS 2, the next version of its operating system for the smallest of screens, will be available for download on September 16. WatchOS 2, which was introduced earlier this year at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), includes new watch faces with additional information. It also gives third-party developers access to the Apple Watch’s sensors, allowing for native apps rather than ones that are simply ported from the iPhone.

WatchOS 2 will also bring 3D Touch, a version of the pressure-sensitive Force Touch input, to the Apple Watch. 3D Touch will integrate with apps so, for example, Facebook Messenger will be able to share your location straight from the icon. WatchOS 2 also brings general performance enhancements, gives Siri additional capabilities, and adds public transit routes to Map directions.

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