TAG Heuer CEO calls Apple Watch biggest threat to traditional timepieces, says likely to wear one

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited February 2015
Just months after Jean-Claude Biver voiced harsh criticism over Apple Watch, the TAG Heuer interim CEO and head of timepieces at luxury monolith LVMH is furiously backpedalling, saying on Tuesday that the wearable is 'an incredible achievement' and that he plans to wear one.


LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton timepiece chief Jean-Claude Biver. | Source: Bloomberg


In an interview with Bloomberg, Biver revealed TAG Heuer's upcoming smartwatch will not be "Swiss Made," a designation that invokes thoughts of precise, fine craftsmanship. Luxury watchmakers often use the label as a marketing tool and the term can be found emblazoned on the cases of many pricey timepieces.

To earn the "Swiss Made" moniker, 50 percent of a watch's movement must be manufactured in Switzerland. The country may be on the cutting edge of mechanical watch design, but the region is leagues behind Silicon Valley when it comes to computer technology, miniaturization and software, all requisite components in realizing a smartwatch.

"We can't produce the engine, the chips, the applications, the hardware -- nobody can produce it in Switzerland," Biver said. "The hardware and the software will come from Silicon Valley. But the watch case, the dial, the design, the idea, the crown, that part of the watch will, of course, be Swiss."

In many ways, the term "smartwatch" is a misnomer considering timekeeping is one of the last features in mind when picking one out.

According to Biver, however, Apple Watch represents the biggest threat to traditional watches in the sub-$2,000 range, a category in which TAG Heuer competes. LVMH's watch division includes other big-name manufactures like Hublot and Zenith, but pieces from those brands usually command much higher prices.

To make its smartwatch a reality, TAG Heuer was forced to partner with companies well beyond Swiss borders. Biver plans to announce the partnerships within the next six weeks. Internally, Biver has split TAG Heuer's R&D department into two teams, one dealing with watch engineers and another with technology experts.

When Apple first announced Apple Watch, Biver was dismissive, saying the device "has no sex appeal" and "looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market." At the time, he hinted that TAG Heuer would field its own wearable, but offered little in the way of details.

"It's a fantastic product, an incredible achievement," Biver said of Apple Watch. "I'm not just living in the tradition and culture and the past, I also want to be connected to the future. The Apple Watch connects me to the future. My watch connects me to history, to eternity."

According to Biver's interview, TAG Heuer's device will feature GPS and health monitoring capabilities, as well as brand-specific apps and software tie-ins with sports the company sponsors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member

    Defeat.

  • Reply 2 of 63
    Wouldn't be surprised if some of these high end watch makers get in to Apple Watch accessories. This may be a new revenue stream for them. That may be the reason for the about-face. Luxury watches are a niche area, I doubt that their existing business will be impacted much by the Apple Watch.
  • Reply 3 of 63
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,774member
    Welp!
  • Reply 4 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by esummers View Post



    Luxury watches are a niche area, I doubt that their existing business will be impacted much by the Apple Watch.

     

    Maybe $10,000 watches. TAG Heuer watches can be had for less than a Rolex, and I've seen plenty of people wear Rolexes daily.

  • Reply 5 of 63
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,643member

    Well, at least that's a fairly quick turnaround of opinion and he's not sticking his head in the sand.

     

    That's actually pretty admirable for a CEO of this stature. Not easy to eat your own words.

     

    It will be interesting to see what TAG Heuer comes up with.

  • Reply 6 of 63
    mpantone
    "Well, at least that's a fairly quick turnaround of opinion and he's not sticking his head in the sand.

    That's actually pretty admirable for a CEO of this stature. Not easy to eat your own words."

    That's pretty much what I was going to say. You figure he could just live in denial and be a "stubborn old man (CEO)" but he's not, which is cool. Show he is smart.
  • Reply 7 of 63
    The problem for TAG Hauer is that Apple is gunning exactly for its territory: the $1000-$3000 watch market. And Apple has both the design and technical expertise to completely dominate. Apple can create the whole widget. No Swiss watch company can do this at all.
  • Reply 8 of 63
    [quote name="AppleInsider" url="/t/184396/tag-heuer-ceo-calls-apple-watch-biggest-threat-to-traditional-timepieces-says-likely-to-wear-one#post_2663939"]Just months after Jean-Claude Biver voiced harsh criticism over Apple Watch, the TAG Heuer interim CEO and head of timepieces at luxury monolith LVMH is furiously backpedalling, saying on Tuesday that the wearable is 'an incredible achievement' and that he plans to wear one.

    […]

    When Apple first announced Apple Watch, Biver was dismissive, saying the device "has no sex appeal" and "looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market." At the time, he hinted that TAG Heuer would field its own wearable, but offered little in the way of details.

    "It's a fantastic product, an incredible achievement," Biver said of Apple Watch. "I'm not just living in the tradition and culture and the past, I also want to be connected to the future. The Apple Watch connects me to the future. My watch connects me to history, to eternity."[/QUOTE]

    That's just odd to me. What (or who) made him change his mind. I'm guessing he would have had to [I]at least [/I]had one in his possession to make such a statement as I doubt that he simply watched the special event or read up on it on the internet (again) to make this dramatic change in his stance.

    it seems more like a comment of someone you've entered into a deal with. Perhaps Apple got TAG Heuer to be a distributor or a maker of certain components?

    [QUOTE]To earn the "Swiss Made" moniker, 50 percent of a watch's movement must be manufactured in Switzerland. The country may be on the cutting edge of mechanical watch design, but the region is leagues behind Silicon Valley when it comes to computer technology, miniaturization and software, all requisite components in realizing a smartwatch.

    "We can't produce the engine, the chips, the applications, the hardware -- nobody can produce it in Switzerland," Biver said. "The hardware and the software will come from Silicon Valley. But the watch case, the dial, the design, the idea, the crown, that part of the watch will, of course, be Swiss."[/QUOTE]

    If the definition specifically refers to moving parts, then it seems like it would be easy for the Swiss to make more than 50% of those parts since all the silicon, battery, sensors, etc. could be built elsewhere.
  • Reply 9 of 63
    esummers wrote: »
    Wouldn't be surprised if some of these high end watch makers get in to Apple Watch accessories. This may be a new revenue stream for them. That may be the reason for the about-face. Luxury watches are a niche area, I doubt that their existing business will be impacted much by the Apple Watch.

    Could be that TAG licenses watch faces to Apple for use on the Apple Watch? Seems unlikely, but who knows?
  • Reply 10 of 63
    jameskatt2 wrote: »
    The problem for TAG Hauer is that Apple is gunning exactly for its territory: the $1000-$3000 watch market. And Apple has both the design and technical expertise to completely dominate. Apple can create the whole widget. No Swiss watch company can do this at all.

    High end watches are both works of fine art and fashion. They fill a different need.
  • Reply 11 of 63
    With the Swiss central bank unpegging the Franc from the Euro, Swiss exports now cost 20% more than last week, and it could go higher. Another cause for his worry.
  • Reply 12 of 63
    Could be that TAG licenses watch faces to Apple for use on the Apple Watch? Seems unlikely, but who knows?

    Something seems up to me. I just don't see a pre-launch turn around like that from anyone at this point without an incentive. Not[@]Benjamin Frost[/@] or the TAG Heuer interim CEO.
  • Reply 13 of 63
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    High end watches are both works of fine art and fashion. They fill a different need.



    I don't know if you have noticed all the watch and fashion people Apple have hired in the last couple of years but they are trying to fill fine art, fashion and usability in one sweep with the ?Watch.

  • Reply 14 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post





    That's just odd to me. What (or who) made him change his mind. I'm guessing he would have had to at least had one in his possession to make such a statement as I doubt that he simply watched the special event or read up on it on the internet (again) to make this dramatic change in his stance.



    it seems more like a comment of someone you've entered into a deal with. Perhaps Apple got TAG Heuer to be a distributor or a maker of certain components?

    If the definition specifically refers to moving parts, then it seems like it would be easy for the Swiss to make more than 50% of those parts since all the silicon, battery, sensors, etc. could be built elsewhere.



    50% of zero is a very small number.

  • Reply 15 of 63
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,932member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Just months after Jean-Claude Biver voiced harsh criticism over Apple Watch, the TAG Heuer interim CEO and head of timepieces at luxury monolith LVMH is furiously backpedalling, saying on Tuesday that the wearable is 'an incredible achievement' and that he plans to wear one.

    [...]

    To make its smartwatch a reality, TAG Heuer was forced to partner with companies well beyond Swiss borders. Biver plans to announce the partnerships within the next six weeks.

    TAG Heuer has entered into a partnership with Apple. 

  • Reply 16 of 63
    I don't wear watch, since the first day I get my first cellphone.
    But I will wear %uF8FFWatch
    And for a simple reason: I can use credit card with it. Other watches don't.
    It's 21st century. Time keeping are no longer needed, please put other functions in it. (But no high speed dual core or above, or GSM. It's not a heat sink or antenna. )
  • Reply 17 of 63
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member

    I honestly don't get it, putting the horrendous battery life aside, lack of a wireless charging option and with it's just okay looks I have never not wanted something from Apple so bad. As a woman, why would I want to own a piece of jewelry that everyone is going to own as well in the next few months, where is the exclusivity. I'll mess around with the idea of getting a Smart Watch when you won't be able to tell that there is actually a Smart function on top of the mechanical part, half the thickness and lasts for a week on a charge, how about just for three days, can we at least start there. I truly believe that these will start out strong but loose their appeal quickly once people start getting tired of plugging the darn things in every night and come to realize that they aren't actually using them for anything other than checking the time. I'm to old for such toys anyway, a 40 year old shouldn't be wearing such silly things, it's a teenager gadget.

  • Reply 18 of 63
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

     

    Defeat.




    Not necessarily, maybe he is just wearing it to learn from it.

  • Reply 19 of 63
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member

    I think he realizes he is not only up to Apple, but also a legion of bright iOS developers.

  • Reply 20 of 63
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by happywaiman View Post



    It's 21st century. Time keeping are no longer needed, please put other functions in it. (But no high speed dual core or above, or GSM. It's not a heat sink or antenna. )

     

    On the contrary. People still have schedules and attend meetings. Timekeeping could evolve to "intelligent Time" if Apple manages to re-imagine iCal for the ? (= ALT + 1) watch.

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