Ahead of next month’s launch of TAG Heuer’s first foray into the smart watch arena – now know to be called TAG Heuer Connected, the brand’s chief executive officer has praised Apple’s sales but poured water on the company’s bid to enter the luxury market.
Speaking to CNBC, Jean-Claude Biver, who is also president of LVMH’s watch division, called Apple ‘big competition’ saying: “How successful has Apple been? We don’t know. In the beginning, they were speaking about 10 to 20 million pieces, then sometimes we say they only sold five million. Nevertheless, to sell five million watches when you have not been a watchmaker is genius. It’s phenomenal.
"Now how will it act on the Swiss traditional watch industry? Certainly a big competition, huge! It will be a tsunami, for me. In the price segment, between say $200 and up to eventually $2,000."
But Biver is less convinced by the potential of Apple Watch’s higher priced models which includes Apple Watch Hermes (£1,000-£1,350) and the solid gold Apple Watch Edition (£8,000-£13,500).
"Above $2,000, the connected watch has a huge problem, he added. “There is no eternity, it means it will become obsolete and who wants to buy a $10,000 – $20,000 watch, that becomes obsolete after five or 10 years?"
But Biver argued that innovation, such as the smart watch phenomenon, is vital to maintaining a sustainable watch.
"To repeat tradition, you must know, you must understand and you must respect tradition but on top of this you must innovate. If you don’t innovate and you just repeat, you are ending up in a museum and people want to be connected to innovation and creativity," Biver said, adding that they are staying relevant by satisfying new consumer tastes.
"I don’t say we want to compete with Apple because we’re not in the same business, but we can compete with any technological product. So this means we believe in it [smartwatches], but we also believe in our traditional product. We believe in both in fact."
The TAG Heuer Connected will be unveiled by Biver, Intel chief executive officer Brian Krzanich and Google Android’s VP on engineering David Singleton at a press conference in New York on November 9th.