TAG Heuer on the path to a new era
BY SANDY STRASSER
Chip manufacturer Intel, the Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer and the internet technology corporation Google are currently collaborating on a Swiss smartwatch based on Intel technology and Google Android Wear. This particular partnership marks the start of a new era for the cooperation between Swiss watchmakers and the Silicon Valley: the three companies intend to launch a luxurious and intelligent smartwatch together, which is to integrate seamlessly into the world of its wearers while setting new standards for innovation, creativity and design. We spoke with Jean-Claude Biver, President of the Watch Division of LVMH Group and CEO of TAG Heuer, about the exciting joint project.
Mr Biver, why did you choose Google and Intel as partners? Who is contributing what expertise?
Jean-Claude Biver: It was relatively easy to choose Google and Intel, because we wanted to work with the best partners. One is the best in hardware (Intel), the other the best and most widely used software (Google).
Instead of traditional, delicate clockwork, your smartwatch will incorporate a mini computer. How will you keep the renowned Swiss art of watchmaking alive?
J.-C. B.: Swiss watchmaking has been the DNA of TAG Heuer since 1860 and we will not give up this culture, message and art for the smartwatch. Even if a microchip and software from the US are found inside the clock, the watch remains a Swiss watch.
How do intend to you tackle the challenge of battery runtime?
J.-C. B.: This we will only reveal in October or November at the presentation of the watch.
How do you think technology is best embedded in a watch today, providing all the functionality of a smartwatch while incorporating value, tradition and beauty at the same time?
J.-C. B.: Traditional watchmaking is not to be confused with modern watchmaking technology, nor can they be combined, as watchmaking is a legacy of skills, a long tradition, a grown culture. As such this kind of watchmaking is characterised by eternity. A timepiece made with modern watchmaking technology like a smartwatch however, is a product of an industrial process and as such will no longer be repairable one day and will thus become obsolete. This means in one hand, one holds eternity in a watch case, and in the other technology which will one day be outdated. So you have two completely different concepts and products.
From a production point of view ‒ how do you manage to integrate all these attributes in one product?
J.-C. B.: You can put anything into a smartwatch, the Swiss DNA, the precision, the beauty, the design, the quality, but you will never manage to bestow the product with eternity.
What role do these accessories play in our society today and why?
J.-C. B.: Our society’s interest in eternity will grow due to the increasing interest in the protection of nature and the avoidance of waste. All of a sudden, the traditional watch becomes modern and a product of the future.
What is your vision for the future of TAG Heuer as a luxury label?
J.-C. B.: The answer can easily be found in our logo: Swiss Avantgarde since 1860. The brand symbolises both the tradition and the future. We adhere to the slogan that tells us: without tradition there is no future, and without innovation there is no future.
David Singleton, Director of Engineering for Android at Google Wear, says about the future cooperation: “By merging beauty and technology, the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers ‒ including us at Google. We are delighted to inject a unique blend of emotion and innovation into the luxury market with TAG Heuer and Intel. Together with the Android Wear platform, we can devise a better, nicer, smarter clock.”
Michael Bell, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of New Devices Group at Intel stressed: “Our fundamental goal is to create greater benefits and added value for people with the help of our technologies. We are convinced that we can drive innovation in the field of wearable technologies through collaboration with other companies. The result of our partnership with TAG Heuer and Google will be a distinct and extraordinary smartwatch that will set entirely new standards.”
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q2 2015. Picture credit © TAG Heuer