Apple could eliminate leather from the Apple Watch Series 9 bands

Apple might be readying to ditch natural leather in watch bands for eco-friendly alternatives, starting with the forthcoming Apple Watch Series 9 lineup.

Apple Watch Series 8 with a Hermès leather band
Will Apple’s partnership with Hermès continue? | Image: Apple

The company could instead offer new watch bands, cases and the like made from a woven composite fabric in an eco-friendly move.

Rumor has it that Apple has treated employees to deep discounts on the expensive leather bands co-branded with French luxury design house Hermès.

Apple may be winding down leather watch bands

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said on X (formerly Twitter) that employees see discounts as steep as 90 percent, bringing a typical $850 Hermès band to $85.

I’m told that Apple last month started offering employees its Hermès leather accessories (and leather link bands) at up to 90 percent off. Clearly some inventory clearing going on. The internal deal continues but everything is out of stock.

Apple offers employee discounts from time to time. The fact that Apple may have offered discounted Hermès watch bands to employees doesn’t necessarily mean that leather watch bands are on their way out, although all signs point to it.

Introducing eco-friendly FineWoven fabric

Apple may indeed be moving away from using natural leather for accessories like smartphone, tablet and laptop sleeves, cases, and so on.

Recent leaks suggested that Apple won’t offer leather cases for the iPhone 15 lineup. Instead, the company could be adopting vegan materials as leather alternatives.

One leaker who goes by the handle @KosutamiSan on X recently posted images of what they claim to be Apple’s upcoming “FineWoven” fabric cases for the iPhone 15, available in ten color options: Black, Mulberry, Taupe, Evergreen, Pacific Blue, Wisteria, Antique White, Butter Yellow, Orange and Pink.

Apple’s stainless steel Link Bracelet and leather Modern Buckle bands, plus some Hermès ones, are sold out on its online store. This might be as simple as clearing the stock ahead of new watch band colors or a sign of bigger changes,

We’ll soon know what’s happening as Apple has scheduled the iPhone 15 + Apple Watch event for September 12. Gurman says the environment and sustainability will “be a larger than normal part” of the upcoming presentation.

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