With expensive watch bands, Apple took a cue from Andy Warhol to solve a big problem

Apple Event iPhone 6S Apple Watch HermesScreenshot/AppleApple introduces the Hermes bands for the Apple Watch.

Today, Apple announced a partnership with luxury fashion brand Hermes to bring a series of special ity leather wristbands to the Apple Watch.

Hermes watches routinely sell for around $US3,000. We’re hearing the Apple Watch Hermes line will start around $US1,100, to give a sense of the costs at play here.

At first blush, this doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Expensive products for the people with lots of money to spend.

But consider this quote from the late, great Andy Warhol, which went around media circles when the Apple Watch was first announced:

“A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

In other words, I have an iPhone, and you have an iPhone, and Jennifer Lawrence has an iPhone, and nobody’s is better or worse than anybody else’s so long as they can pay the $US299 contract price (or whatever).

Apple Watch HermesAppleApple Watch Hermes

In many ways, this is good for Apple, because it’s led the iPhone to be a massive success.

On the other hand, Apple has built so much of its reputation around being the best of the best, the cream of the crop, for a select audience who cares about quality over high-performance specs.

But with the Apple Watch, the company finally figured out how to have it both ways: It could sell the same $US349 watch to everybody, or a $US10,000 Apple Watch Edition to the extremely moneyed.

Now, with the Apple Watch Hermes collection, there’s a more midrange option available for the fashion-conscious.

In other words, it makes it so the Apple Watch has a wide range of ways for people to signal their status. So my Apple Watch is the same as your Apple Watch — but also different.

If I want to drop $US10,000, that’s great. If I want to drop the likely few hundred for a Hermes watchband, that’s also great. If I want an Apple-made default strap, that’s cool, too. But what you choose says a lot about you and what you spend your cash on.

Which is to say, Apple has figured out how to sell a Coke that isn’t just a Coke.

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