Tag Heuer goes smart

Baselworld 2015 marks a change in direction for Tag Heuer. A lot has happened in between the previous edition of the fair including, a change in the brand’s direction, layoffs and a new CEO: Jean-Claude Biver. All this has led to a climatic announcement of a partnership between Google, Intel and Tag Heuer, companies that need no second introduction, to introduce a smart watch to the market in 2016.

The collaboration was made official at the fair, during a press conference where Jean-Claude Biver, President of the Watch Division LVMH Group and CEO of TAG Heuer, David Singleton, Director of Engineering for Android Wear, and Michael Bell, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s New Devices Group, joined each other on stage.

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It may seem prescient that Tag would respond to Apple’s entry into the wristwatch business given that they’ve already had a phone and even a car but there are also additional factors at play:

First is the fact that TAG has repositioned itself under its new Interim CEO as an entry level luxury brand.

According to ABTW, Jean-Claude Biver explained that “it was time to get back to its roots. Over the last decade or so, TAG Heuer had attempted to climb from a brand selling $1,000 – $3,000 watches to a brand selling $3,000 – $5,000 watches, and later a brand also selling $5,000 – $8,000 watches.” Haute Horlogerie be damned.

Second, LVMH, its parent group, also needed an entry-level brand – something that TAG Heuer historically did best and something that would fit in very well as a response to the smart watch threat to the Swiss mid-market.

Third, it could be personal: Apple snapped away Patrick Pruniaux, Tagheuer’s VP of Sales and Retail (link) and with huge sales forecast, it may have been forced to staying relevant before the first shot has been fired (The Apple watch has yet to be released).

In a revealing interview with Hodinkee, the Tag Heuer’s smart watch would fall into the $1500 to $5000 price range, offering the wristwatch consumer the opportunity to own a smart watch that looked more like a Carrera than an Apple.

He also predicted that just like with mechanical watches, there would be different segments of smartwatches.

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