TAG Heuer to take on Apple Watch with smartwatch initiative, plans acquisitions
Swiss luxury watch maker TAG Heuer on Tuesday announced plans to bring a branded smartwatch to market with the help of unnamed tech companies, a move spurred on in part by Apple Watch.
During a press conference at TAG Heuer's headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, interim chief executive Jean-Claude Biver admitted he recently changed his mind on fielding a smartwatch after being largely dismissive of the so-called "smart device" sector, Reuters reports.
"We started on the project about four months ago. We have done several partnerships and might also do acquisitions," Biver said.
TAG did not show off prototype designs at today's meeting, though rumors claim the watch is a hybrid digital/mechanical design powered by an Intel processor. Also rumored for inclusion are biometric sensors to measure metrics like a user's heart rate. Minus the sensors, A similar design was used by Hewlett-Packard in its Choronowing collaboration with designer Michael Bastion.
When asked if Google or Intel were part of the project, TAG Heuer general manager Guy Semon declined to comment. The company does not have a firm launch timeline in place, but Biver said an announcement would be made in late 2015 at the earliest.
"We'll only do it if we can be first, different and unique," Biver said.
Today's news is a change in course from September, when Biver slammed Apple's recently unveiled Apple Watch, saying the product "has no sex appeal. It's too feminine and looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market." Just days later, he reversed course.
"We want to launch a smartwatch at TAG Heuer, but it must not copy the Apple Watch," Biver said at the time. "We cannot afford to just follow in somebody else's footsteps."
TAG is the latest traditional watch manufacturer to bend against a steadily growing smartwatch industry led by tech innovators. Apple is set to disrupt the space with its Apple Watch early next year, and some high-end models are expected to be priced in the range of TAG Heuer's current offerings.
In July, Apple hired away a TAG sales director and was talks to poach talent from other top Swiss watch makers including Hublot, a brand owned by TAG Heuer.