Apple Watch is ‘phenomenal’ but not a threat, says TAG Heuer CEO
Swiss watchmakers have been tripping over themselves to dismiss the Apple Watch as a threat, but TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver has come out with what I think is one of the fairer assessments of Apple’s debut wearable device to date.
His take? That the Apple Watch is hella bad news if you’re a low-priced watchmaker, but probably okay if you’re making timepieces over the $2,000 mark.
Speaking to CNBC on Monday, Biver said he remains unsure of exactly how many units the Apple Watch has sold so far.
“How successful has Apple been?” he asked. “We don’t know. In the beginning, they were speaking about 10 to 20 million pieces, then sometimes we say they only sold 5 million. Nevertheless, to sell 5 million watches when you have not been a watchmaker is genius. It’s phenomenal.”
He described the effect as likely to be a “tsunami” for anyone making watches priced $200 — $2,000.
Above $2,000, however, Biver says the “connected watch has a huge problem.” “There is no eternity,” he continued. “It means it will become obsolete, and who wants to buy a $10,000 – $20,000 watch, that becomes obsolete after five or 10 years?”
TAG Heuer’s most expensive watches sell for over $100,000.
Apple is, of course, selling high-end Apple Watch Editions for as much as $17,000, but I don’t think Biver is way off-mark here. For me, the Apple Watch Edition has always existed as a way of upping the prestige of the Apple Watch, while also psychologically pushing consumers to spend more. (Because, hey, a $1,500 watch suddenly seems a whole lot less when there is an almost identical model for 10x the price.)
TAG Heuer does admittedly have a dog in the race with its forthcoming Android-powered smartwatch. In a tweet, the company recently teased the new wearable — showing a circular face, metal crown, and rubber or leather band. Since the new TAG smartwatch will carry a $1,800 price tag (no pun intended), presumably the company is including its own device in the list of ones threatened by the Apple Watch.
TAG will reveal the rest of the new timepiece on November 9, which is when we can expect to hear more details about pricing and release dates.
Do you think Jean-Claude Biver’s opinion of the Apple Watch is wrong? Leave your comments below.