TAG Heuer to give Apple smartwatch competition

Discussion
Mar 20, 2015
George Anderson

According to consensus estimates, Apple is expected to sell more than 22 million units of its new smartwatch this year. That’s a pretty impressive figure when you consider fewer than five million smartwatches were sold worldwide in 2014. Those projections may need to be adjusted, however, now that Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer has announced plans to team with Google and Intel to launch an Android-based timepiece this year.

"Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility," said Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer, in a statement.

TAG Heuer becomes the first watchmaker to enter the smartwatch category and with that should be able to negate whatever fashion advantage Apple will hold with its device. What remains to be seen is whether the company will be able to overcome Apple’s primary advantage — the number of apps people can use with their watches.

"By fusing beauty with technology, the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers alike — including us at Google," said David Singleton, director of engineering for Android Wear. "So we’re thrilled to be working with TAG Heuer and Intel to bring a unique blend of emotion and innovation to the luxury market."

While TAG Heuer has made a splash with its smartwatch plans, it is not the only traditional watchmaker tinkering with the use of electronics in its timepieces. Breitling, Frederique Constant, Montblanc and Swatch have all incorporated technology such as fitness trackers and messaging devices into watches they created, according to Bloomberg News.

Gucci along with Will.I.Am of The Black Eyed Peas have also announced plans to launch a swatchwatch that, unlike Apple Watch, will not have to be tethered to a smartphone. Details about the device’s launch, pricing, etc. have not yet been disclosed.

How will the entry of traditional watchmakers shape the future of the smartwatch market? Will consumers be influenced more by the devices’ aesthetics or technology?

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16 Comments on "TAG Heuer to give Apple smartwatch competition"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Google is not Apple. Amazon learned this with the spectacular flop of their smartphone. “Me too” is never the same as must-have.

While I expect retailers like Macy’s to welcome this news so they have something to sell, it hardly dampens the enthusiasm for the iPhone or Apple Watch.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Which will influence consumers more: The look of the smart watch or its technology? The short answer is that it depends on the consumer. Does the individual value form over function or vice versa?

There are definitely other considerations that will come into play. Some Apple devotees are likely not to care if a better technology or look comes along. They identify themselves as Apple customers and will remain so. For many the issue of price will certainly come into play.

Having the traditional watchmakers enter the market should be a good thing for the marketplace. I expect we will witness the Android/Apple/other tech competition driving both to continue to improve their offer.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Wearable technology, sensors and fashion will continue to merge into a financially successful force. Traditional watchmakers will empower this trend by injecting their brand influence and fashion design with technology. The fashion and aesthetics will influence consumers’ purchases long before the actual technology and capabilities.

Form before function!

Max Goldberg
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Traditional watch makers need to get into the smartwatch arena or watch their sales further deteriorate. Millennials don’t wear watches, preferring to use their ubiquitous smartphones. The new smartwatches may counter the downward trend in watch sales. That said, in order to be embraced by consumers the watches need to do more than monitor fitness devices. They need to link to phones and tablets and offer consumers multiple enhancements above traditional watches.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Max made a strong point saying Millennials do not wear watches. So true. This is becoming more prevalent as smartphone technology develops into more than a phone with email and texting. Come to think of it, I rarely wear a watch and I am not a Millennial. I passed that point years ago. Enough years to remember Maxwell Smart and his shoe phone. Imagine that.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Telling time is not necessarily the most important function of the new generation of watches. Telling time is merely the price of entry for getting consumers to wear the new devices on their wrists. The success of TAG or any other watchmaker depends upon accomplishing two different goals. Consumers want a device that combines form and function. What does the device do? Do consumers want that function? How does the device look? Is that look something consumers want on their arms?

Ryan Mathews
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

I’m still not sure there is a mass market there. To the degree there is a market, I’m betting on aesthetics.

Dennis Gerson
Guest
Dennis Gerson
4 years 11 months ago

As Max and Ed have stated, “it depends.” One real question is if Apple can reverse the behavior they have pushed or enabled: “No need to wear a watch anymore, just look at your phone.” When I look at digital gone-natives, rather than just Millennials, I see two behaviors. First, they very rarely wear watches except when it is a fashion statement. Second, in the growth markets, this same group is more likely to wear a known brand name watch because it is part of the aspiration to be part of the professional class. Will the traditional watch manufacturers succeed in bridging the gap from watch or fashion accessory to smartwatch and fashion accessory? The jury is still out, especially since very few of us have had the chance to see how these new devices work in the real world.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

When I used to wear a watch it was generally a TIMEX, so I guess I am not on the aesthetic side of this discussion. The only change I made over the years was to be sure to get bigger numbers as my eyes aged.

The answer to this question is in the Millennials. They are not wearing watches now. (When I ask my students for the time in class none look at their wrist. They all look at their phones.) What will make them wear a watch again? If anything, it will be the technology.

Zel Bianco
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

While I doubt that traditional watchmakers will be able to create a device more technologically advanced (or at least perceived to be more technologically advanced) than Apple, I think there may be a market for a purposefully less-smart smartwatch.

We are reaching the point where more is not necessarily more. A traditional watch brand that can be fashionable and also hit the sweet spot of providing just the right amount of technology people want to wear without moving into the realm of unnecessary or intrusive could compete with Apple, or at least attract a different segment of customers.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Replacing diamonds, rubies and sapphires with diodes, read-outs and sapphire crystals is overdue by my reckoning. This could be because of the short supply of investment dollars needed for the big players, but who know or cares for that matter. As for the watch makers themselves they will merge or morph or just stay retro for ole’ times sake. Fifty to 70 years from now the gadget watches of today will be sleeping with the slide rules. Anyone remember how to use or even recognize one of them?

Richard Wakeham
Guest
Richard Wakeham
4 years 11 months ago

I doubt if there are a lot of people in Cupertino shaking in their sandals about the upcoming pseudo-competition.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Being a bit of a watch guy, I met with a bunch of mechanical watch collectors after the Apple Watch launch sponsored by Hodikee, a watch collectors magazine.

It was interesting discussion to have with them. Most of them think the $10,000-plus Apple watch was a no-sale for them, while a few would consider the lower-end device not as a watch, but as a wearable on the other wrist (i.e., jewelry/bracelet) if there is another way to wear it. At Baselworld (which, if you have want to have fun, search #baselworld2015 on Instagram or Facebook/Twitter to see some amazing timepieces and jewelry) it is interesting that there is some discussion on smartwatches, not necessarily for high-end luxury, but about whether it cannibalizes or increases the pool of watch wearers/collectors. It would be interesting to see how TAG Heuer’s watch is going to look and function, and what apps will be available for it.

Kai Clarke
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

The entry of traditional watchmakers into the smartwatch market is only a testing of the waters. We still don’t have definitive information that these products are viable in the mass market, and now adding a fashion statement to the concept will not necessarily make smartwatches any more viable. Once we have a well-defined category, then we can better measure the success of “fashion” on the products.

James Tenser
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

TAG Heuer feels like a good prospect for the luxe smartwatch game. It’s brand loyalists value form and function but are not too price sensitive.

This announcement signals a lively era for the timepiece-personal electronics (TPE?) category. Apple is certainly the team to beat, but I’ll bet some of the other folks in Androidland will come up with some cool ideas of their own.

Why not diodes AND diamonds?

Shep Hyken
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Apple knows there will be competition. I’m sure that they have factored that into their projections. My guess is they were first to this dance, and will stay at the top for at least the near future. Just like an iPhone, their smartwatch is going to be what others will try and catch up to.

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