TAG Heuer plans smartwatch as honcho Jean-Claude Biver changes mind as Apple Watch looms

“TAG Heuer is pushing ahead with plans for a smartwatch to more directly compete with the likes of the Apple Watch and may make acquisitions to help drive the strategy, its head said on Tuesday,” Silke Koltrowitz reports for Reuters. “Swiss watch makers like TAG Heuer, the biggest brand in luxury goods group LVMH’s watch portfolio, had until recently largely dismissed the threat of ‘smart’ gadgets, but LVMH watch chief Jean-Claude Biver says he had changed his mind on the subject.”

Koltrowitz reports, “‘We started on the project about four months ago. We have done several partnerships and might also do acquisitions,’ Biver, head of LVMH watches and TAG Heuer interim chief executive, told journalists at the brand’s headquarters at La Chaux-de-Fonds in western Switzerland.”

MacDailyNews Take: “About four months” or, since we’re talking timekeeping, to be precise: 3 months and 7 days ago.

“Biver said TAG Heuer, which promotes its upmarket sporty image with models such as the Carrera which it describes as inspired by motor racing, would make an announcement once it had a good product to present, or late 2015 at the earliest,” Koltrowitz reports. “‘We’ll only do it if we can be first, different and unique,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We love it when panic sets in.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple Watch starts countdown on face off with Swiss industry – October 31, 2014
The fashion elite crowd around Apple Watch at Colette in Paris – September 30, 2014
Jean-Claude Biver: ‘The Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches’ – September 15, 2014
Jean-Claude Biver: Apple Watch ‘too feminine; looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester’ – September 16, 2014
Barclays: Apple Watch could crush companies like Fossil – September 16, 2014
Jean-Claude Biver: ‘The Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches’ – September 15, 2014
Old school watch makers don’t get Apple Watch – September 12, 2014
Apple Watch, the world’s first real smartwatch, will be a massive hit – September 9, 2014
Apple iWatch designer Jony Ive: Switzerland is in deep shit – September 4, 2014

50 Comments

  1. We didn’t jump on the bandwagon 35 years ago when digital watches hit the scene. We didn’t do anything different since and we are still in business doing great. Apple didn’t teach us to change over to digital. It was our decision and ours alone. We will make hybrids that have smart functions like phases of the moon and dates that show up on the face that even keep track of long and short months and perhaps leap years.

    We even considered making a blinking light emitting diodes (I think they call those things LEDs or something) that will flash once a second. We will include a battery to run that flashing light and it will last up to a month. We know electronics too you know!

    1. If you are indeed from TAG (I doubt it) I am sporting a half dozen of your watches as they are great time pieces and a rugged for Deep dives when Im scuba diving. I will continue to buy them for that purpose. What will change is that I will no longer buy your watch for everyday wear. I will buy a sport watch and most likely a Gold iWatch for formal occasions. I also like Rolex watches because of the look and the design and how insanely tough they are. Having said all of that your comparing Apples to oranges. If you do this you will get your clock cleaned by Apple. There is room for both to exist but the everyman who has the cash will most likely splurge on an iWatch because its insanely cool. Its easy to throw some junk together and call it progress.. SamDung and others have shown how not to do it. As a TAG fan my advice is be original, be TAG and understand that the iWatch is part of an eco system that enables the user to interact with other devices and manage data from the wrist easily. You are competing with something that is more than just a watch that does more than just give you the date and supports multiple timezones, more than a watch that shows how deep underwater you are or what altitude you are at. Focus on what you do, do it well and be innovative compete with Apple in their area of expertise and be prepared to be run over. Compete in areas where you have strength. Is an iWatch going to be on my wrist at 230 feet under water.. no. Is an iWatch going to tell me my altitude on K2 no.
      All that has been done by Apple is move a few bits of a cell phone to the wrist and right away everyone loses it. Im a fan of both but understand both products need to exists and have different rolls. If TAG burns through their hard earned money chasing Apple and trying to compete it could spell the demise of TAG. People who spend serious money on a watch have more than one watch and they choose the watch that is needed for the task.
      In this case one watch won’t cut it. BTW most people are no longer wearing watches anymore as its not cool. They get the time on their cell phone these days and that makes the watch redundant. If anything Apple is making the watch cool again..

      You should thank them!

  2. J.-C. Biver never said a smartwatch was a dummy idea. Instead, he stated that clearly the Apple watch type of pure electronic concept would be a no-no for swiss watch companies.
    Yet, Biver never excluded that there could be electronics intgrated within a keyless watch.

  3. “TAG Heuer . . . had until recently largely dismissed the threat of ‘smart’ gadgets,”

    Now, where have we heard that before? Ah, yes, from those other behemoths of the smart watch—hello, Nokia! hello, Microsoft! Hello, Blackberry!

    1. Thats their problem, they denied that there was any threat or need to compete and now just months late they have turned 180 degrees. Its very difficult to have any real confidence in them in this new space especially as they are in a far weaker position than say Palm was and we know how that ended. However they do have their own space that Apple can’t directly compete in (or wants to) so it will be where the balance between digital wrist devices and old school traditional watches develops in the market place as time passes that will decide Tags continuing relavence even in the top end. However that line will inevitably, even if slowly, move increasingly towards the digital side over time.

  4. The suffix “smart” can mean intelligent, shrewd, and sophisticated. Early cell phones were still just called cell phones, even when they could message, email, and access the internet in a rudimentary way. Only after the iPhone was launched did the term ‘smartphone’ come into general usage. The iPhone represented an entirely new class of product, a product that was more hand-held computer than traditional phone, and therefore ‘smart’. But the term has lost much meaning as a consequence of indiscriminate use in the industry lexicon.

    The same will be true of “smart” watches. They are wrist-worn computers, not just fancy (and however elite) traditional watches. Some so-called smartphones that are on the market today are probably not all that smart. Apple will, hopefully, once again wow the world with an entirely new category-defining product.

    When over used, many words lose their descriptive power. Yes, the iPhone is smart, but so, apparently, are many other, lesser products …if we believe industry talk.

    Anyway, new “smart” devices are really computers. They have less in common with their predecessor devices (phones or watches) than they do with computer hardware, operating software, and application software. I am not sure the luxury watch makers “see” this yet, as they attempt to survive the coming smart tsunami in their industry. Or perhaps they do see what is coming and have nothing to lose by scrambling ?

  5. I like the concept of ‘wrist real estate’. Apple creates an interesting conundrum: they are a Mass Marketer of electronic devices which they create and market as luxury, or status items. Their target market for the upcoming watch aren’t necessarily “The Rich”. We don’t yet know how many of these devices Apple will actually sell, since the individuals who can afford to wear the existing luxury watches will probably end up buying the Apple watch anyways. The luxury watchmakers may not have anything to worry about.

    1. …in the short-term, sure.

      But if the Apple Watch offers valuable functions, people will find fewer and fewer reasons to put on their beautiful Swiss timepiece (forgoing the value they get from their Apple Watch). And if they’re not wearing them, they’re not going to be buying more of them. And some generation will simply never even think of buying one in the first place.

      I’m sure there’s still money to be made in selling sets of silverware, but for the most-part silverware has been replaced by stainless steel flatware. And beyond price stainless steel offers only *one* valuable, functional feature over silver. The Apple Watch will offer dozens of valuable, functional features over traditional wristwatches.

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