- Senior Member & WIS
- Posts: 6596
- Joined: June 11th 2011, 10:00pm
RB: TAG Heuer has announced a smartwatch to launch in the fall of 2015. What exactly do you have in mind?
JCB: We will hold a press conference in the fall where we’ll announce how the watch looks, what it costs, how we manufacture it and what it can do. TAG Heuer stands for avant-garde so that’s why we started this project. I wouldn’t do it with Zenith or Hublot.
RB: You’ve entered into a partnership with Intel and Google.
JCB: Intel for the hardware, which means the microprocessor. Google for the software, which means Android. Seventy-five percent of all telephones use Android. TAG Heuer contributes the emotion – the luxury, the design, the Swissness. That is a huge connection. TAG Heuer is bringing together two giants with combined annual sales of around $120 billion – five to six times more than the entire Swiss watch industry. And every six months we’re the first to access their updates, before all the other customers. And now we just need to decide if we want a high-performance microprocessor or a super-light version that only offers a few health-related functions. Intel sells thousands of different processors. It’s also conceivable that we’ll offer several models that can do more at different levels. We are in the fortunate position to be able to offer our customers everything they want, just like on a menu.
RB: How does the watch need to be made so it doesn’t become a “me-too” product of the Apple Watch?
JCB: It will have to be different, first and foremost in its design. One must not forget that the Apple Watch still remains dependent on its aesthetics. Some people will say, “I don’t want to have something like that on my wrist.” Whatever you wear on your body needs to correspond with your own personal taste. If our watch looks like a Carrera, that will set it apart from the Apple Watch. And if we offer other functions, like maybe GPS and water-resistance, those are other differences that will interest our customers. We also cannot forget the quantities. Apple wants to sell 20 million pieces. Our watch may one day sell a maximum of 20,000 to 50,000 pieces, maybe even 100,000 – but never 20 million. All of these elements make a difference. That’s also why there’s less of a risk for us. Each company has its own market and its own customers. I don’t even look at Apple. That watch doesn’t interest me.
RB: But let’s assume that the Apple Watch continues to develop and grow and eventually offers functions that are so significant that they become essential to our daily lives – like with the iPhone. Won’t there be a battle over the wrist?
JCB: Yes. In Silicon Valley they’re all talking about the battle for the wrist. We’ll just have to wait it out. The biggest flops in history have often occurred when everyone thought “here comes something really big.” If Apple is really able to sell 20 million watches, exclusivity will also come into play. That’s how it was with the Vertu phones. All of sudden there were so many of them that a few wealthy Russians decided they wanted something else special and different. That may be the case with the smartwatch, and that will be our chance because ours will look much more like a watch.
RB: So you’re saying wait and see. It’s still not clear where this journey will end.
JCB: Of course we need to be on that train, too, because only then will we know where it’s going. And if we don’t like the direction it’s going, we can always get off.
RB: How does it look in the area of battery power?
JCB: It depends on the version we choose. The battery can run for one, two, three years. Or we’ll do it like Apple does, and it will only last for 24 hours.
RB: What stage has the product development reached so far?
JCB: The week before last we had 11 engineers with us in La Chaux-de-Fonds – four from Google, seven from Intel. This was not the first time and won’t be the last. And every week we have designers in Silicon Valley. It’s all going very quickly. But keep in mind we’re not doing just this one project. We’re having to maintain all of our watch collections and models.
RB: A few months ago you said you could imagine installing a chip in a classical, mechanical watch. Is that still your view today?
JCB: I’m not sure that’s a good idea. The traditional technology of the mechanical watch has something eternal. And all of a sudden we’ve put a virus into it that will be obsolete someday. That’s the hybrid concept. It’s like ordering red wine and water, and then pouring the water into the excellent Bordeaux. Most people would prefer two separate glasses!