UPDATE 1-Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer teams up with big tech for smartwatch

10 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer teams up with Google, Intel for smartwatch.

LVMH’s Tag Heuer became on Monday the first Swiss watchmaker to offer a “smartwatch” to customers that combines Swiss design with U.S. technology, seeking to tap a growing market for wearable devices amid flagging sales of traditional watches. Heritage and nostalgia generally appeal to an older demographic and it remains to be seen if the critical younger target group – males only at this stage given the size of the watch – want a device that replicates the looks of the mechanical watches they’ve been spurning.

NEW YORK (AP) — A leading Swiss watchmaker and two technology titans have combined forces to produce a computerized wristwatch billed as the “world’s smartest luxury watch.” Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver said his company has been building mechanical watches for 155 years but knew little about building an Internet-connected device that younger buyers would want. So it partnered with Intel and Google in what he calls the “marriage of Watch Valley and Silicon Valley.” Various manufacturers have made watches using Google’s Android Wear system but they typically look more like mini computers on the wrist rather than a traditional watch. The Tag Heuer Connected adopted the company’s Carrera Calibre mechanical design and uses premium materials, including titanium lugs and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal screen. Customers can swap their smartwatch for a mechanical one at the end of a two year warranty if they pay $1,500 more, a strategy Biver said allows the company to protect its traditions and cater to younger clientele who might be tempted by Apple.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Tag Heuer showed his engineers the design elements desired and worked with Google to tweak the Android Wear software for it. “Our teams have brought what they are uniquely good at and have fused together something that is bigger than the sum of its parts,” said David Singleton, a vice president of engineering at Google. I only have the gut feeling that we’re just at the beginning, and that the first (connected) watches are like the first phones we had twenty years ago.” But the industry needs a boost. Swiss watch exports posted the biggest drop since 2009 in the third quarter, with a 14.5 per cent slip in the 200-500 franc category fuelling concerns the Apple Watch might be taking market share.

Bank Vontobel analysts in October forecast low to mid-market watches would be affected by sales of smartwatches and other wearable devices, and 30 per cent to 50 per cent of quartz watches would include some smartwatch features in the long term.

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