TAG Heuer planning smartwatch to compete with Apple Watch

tag-heuer-mikrotourbillonsLuxury watchmaker TAG Heuer is planning to launch a smartwatch in order to more directly compete with Apple Watch and other smartwatches, according to a report by Reuters. The company is also open to partnering with technology firms and making acquisitions if necessary in order to get the plans off the ground.

At a press conference, luxury goods group LMVH’s watch chief Jean-Claude Biver admitted that the Swiss watchmakers had up until recently dismissed the threat of smart gadgets. TAG has reportedly been pushing ahead with smartwatch plans for the last four months, no doubt sparked by Apple’s rumored and then confirmed entry into the space.

In order to come up with an original product, TAG Heuer is considering partnerships and acquisitions in order to bring something to market next year.

“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.

Notably, Biver conceded that smartwatches represent a challenge to traditional watchmaking, stating that the industry “cannot ignore this tsunami that is coming closer.”

Prior to Apple Watch’s official unveiling, Apple design chief Jony Ive reportedly made comments about the device’s potential impact on Swiss watchmakers, suggesting disruption was coming their way. It seems Switzerland is waking up to the threat now, too.

Apple Watch is set to ship in Spring next year with TAG’s competing product slated for a late 2015 arrival.

Is the luxury watchmaker wise to enter into the smartwatch market? Should it stick to what it is good at? Will the demand for luxury, mechanical watches stick around in a post-Apple Watch world? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Reuters

Tags: , , ,

  • Wezra

    I’m sure this is bringing back memories of the Japanese quartz invasion of the 1970’s that literally brought the Swiss watch industry to it’s knees. A number of Swiss manufacturers were put out of business because they didn’t react quickly enough. That said, I think this is somewhat different in that smartwatches haven’t seen the type of mass consumer acceptance that mainstream, low cost, quartz watches did in the 70’s. At a starting point of $450 or $500 I don’t see masses of people ditching their traditional watch for a smartwatch. On the other hand, those who have no issue spending several thousand dollars on a TAG, Breitling, Omega or Rolex may well have no problem plunking down a couple of grand on a high end Swiss made smartwatch. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    • Adam Oram

      Yep, it’s certainly going to be interesting. While smartwatches haven’t been adopted widely yet, Apple is the brand that could push that forwards. I still think it’ll be the early adopters that get them at launch (same as iPad 1) but the second iteration could really break into the mainstream. Who knows how mechanical watch enthusiasts will react?