From the legendary movie ‘Grand Prix’ in 1966 to controversial Breaking Bad TV series, TAG Heuer watches are presented as objects of desire. Today’s ad campaigns feature select number of actors, race drivers, F1 teams, pilots and the like, all touting the precision brought by TAG Heuer. Yet, the most precise watch you can buy is one of digital, not the analogue kind. Secondly, there is not one, but two generations of people that are growing up using a mobile phone to check for time, reducing the need for watches in its entirety.
Not even a week after Apple’s event, Reuters passed the comments made by Jean-Claude Biver, founder of Hublot and current head of watchmaking for LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) . His statement “We want to launch a smartwatch at TAG Heuer, but it must not copy the Apple Watch.” confirmed that the LVMH concern will make a smartwatch using the TAG Heuer brand. We believe this will not be just one product but a ‘platform’ which guarantees its reappearance in multiple watches not just in TAG Heuer, but across LVMH brands. Furthermore, the company is also pushing its electronics team to create another six-figure smartphone to rival Vertu.
Today, most avid watch buyers are ones that grew up in 1980s, with Casio G-Shock and Swatch creating a generation of buyers that are in their 30s and 40s – going for the collectable editions with prices measured from thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Generation growing up today would probably skip on watches entirely, until we start seeing wearable devices such as FitBit followed by Pebble, LG and Samsung smartwatches, and now Apple entered the frame with its Watch (does the lack of ‘I’ means Apple’s 2015 phone will simply be called – Apple Phone? Apple Pad?). All of the smartwatch/wearable device push from the manufacturers is bringing horologie back into fashion, and if you are a smart manufacturer (pun intended) – you will have to react.
We don’t expect the smartwatch to make appearance before annual watch gathering in Baselworld (March 19-26, 2015) while the new smartphone is planned to make an appearance at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (March 2-5, 2015).
All in all, luxury giant LVMH is reacting. The question is, how long until every other watch vendor starts following? We can only hope they won’t engage into a race to the bottom, like the standard consumer electronic companies.