Contrary to reports that TAG Heuer is cooking up a smartwatch with Intel, the luxury watchmaker says it has much bigger plans brewing.
TAG has enlisted several partners in its smartwatch project, and is also considering acquisitions, Reuters reports. Jean-Claude Biver, head of watchmaking for TAG’s parent company LVMH, discussed the company's smartwatch ambitions with reporters in Switzerland this week.
TAG had been warily eying the smartwatch market for months before deciding to jump in. In July, CEO Stephane Linder told PCWorld that “none impress me in terms of design,” referring to existing Pebble and Android Wear smartwatches. And when Apple announced its Watch in September, Biver dismissed it as being “ too feminine” and having “no sex appeal.” TAG announced its own plans to build a smartwatch just a week after Apple's big reveal.
Still, the company isn't talking details yet, and Biver seemed to dismiss an earlier report by Business Insider that claimed TAG and Intel would announce a smartwatch at CES in January. TAG doesn't plan to announce anything until late 2015 at the earliest, he said, and general manager Guy Semon added that many partners are involved with the project.
“Smartwatches represent a challenge to the Swiss watch industry that is comparable to the appearance of quartz technology,” Semon said. “We cannot ignore this tsunami that is coming closer.”
Why this matters: The comments show that traditional watch makers are starting to take the smartwatch threat seriously, but they're also realizing that they can't merely graft a few fitness features onto a luxury timepiece. For a company like TAG that sells watches for thousands of dollars, technical obsolescence is a major challenge, as buyers won't want a product whose smart features are worthless after a few years. It sounds like TAG isn't anywhere close to figuring out a solution, and will need plenty of help.