The Hermes custom Apple Watch face gives me hope for third-party clock faces

At iMore, we recently picked up an Hermès Double Tour for review purposes. The Hermès-branded Apple Watch has a few tidbits exclusive to its design: It's priced for high fashion, has custom engraving on the back of the watch, and comes with a genuine Hermès leather band. To me, though, the really exciting part is its custom clock face.

That's right: The Hermès Apple Watch has a special bit of software in watchOS, giving it the first-ever third-party (though built by Apple) clock face. And not only that: It's customizable, too.

The Hermès clock face

It's understandable why Apple offered Hermès the opportunity to design a custom face that they could implement for the new line: It's another way to distinguish the watch as a special edition item, especially as counterfeit bands start to hit the market. What I wasn't expecting, however, was the amount of customization in the Hermès clock face.

Apple could have let Hermès design a clock face like that of the Solar or Timelapse options: a single selection with no "Customize" option. It would have been a simple and easy way to incorporate the Hermès legacy without any major engineering work on the Apple's part.

Instead, the clock face has three separate customization screens including different typefaces, three settings for numeric detail, and even a small complication below the Hermès logo.

While unique to the Apple Watch, the three typefaces don't look out of place next to Hermès's classic watch line: there's a thin, slight-serif option, a more bubbly Art Deco-style font, and a thin, serif-less design made of straight lines and right angles.

You can also display how many of those numbers you want shown: just the 12; 12, 3, 6, and 9; or the full clock face.

There's also a small complication that can be set to show the date, stopwatch, world clock, or turned off altogether. Sadly, third-party complications aren't compatible with the face, in part, I imagine, due to design.

If you decline to use the Hermès face, you can still get a bit of the designer flair: On faces that offer color complications, there's a custom orange-red "Hermès" color option.

The promise of third-party clock faces

Apple may not offer a public API or store for building and selling clock faces yet, but the entry it built for Hermès shows that it's certainly possible to build complicated third-party clock faces and incorporate them into the system.

I'd initially assumed that Apple simply didn't have the framework in place for third-party developers to build faces with complications, but the Hermès face makes me believe they're further along than I'd thought. At first glance, the designer clock face looks like it's been loosely built using the Utility or Color skeleton, but it has a complication in a completely different spot than any of Apple's circular faces.

Moreover, no stock complication lets you change the font—that's an entirely new detail for the Hermès design.

Now, given the fashion prestige that the design company brings to Apple's smartwatch, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Apple's developers built whatever Hermès asked for—even if that included new complications. But I can't help but hope that it's also a hint that custom watch faces are possible—and possibly coming in watchOS 3.

Would you use a third-party clock face? What would you want from such a thing? Let me know below.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.