The Swiss watch industry is paying more attention to the increasing popularity of smartwatches, but it’s not going to hurry itself in the race to compete. TAG Heuer, one of the first big name Swiss watch makers to release a smartwatch isn’t planning to launch a sequel to the Carrera Connected until 2017, and while smart functionality is going to be part of the Hublot range in the future, it won’t be until the same year. For the Zenith brand, it may come even later.
These indications come from various sources. CCS insight analyst Ben Wood tweeted from the Baselworld watch show that TAG Heuer will launch an unnamed new smartwatch model in 2017, reiterating comments made after the Carrera Connected’s official release. Even though it costs $1,500, the Carrera Connected has been labeled a success, and the man in charge of TAG Heuer, Jean Claude Bivet, told Reuters that the company underestimated demand. “We were too cautious,” he said, and stated it expects up to 50,000 watches to be sold this year.
However, despite this, he’s not entirely convinced smartwatches are here to stay. “Nobody knows what will happen with smartwatches. Of course, we could just watch this train from afar to see where it goes, but I prefer to be on board.” The mixed messages continue, as he told Reuters connected watches could eventually make up half of TAG Heuer’s total sales.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Biver said Hublot was potentially the next LMVH — that’s the conglomerate which owns many of the major luxury watch companies — brand to “add intelligent functions,” and that Zenith may join it soon afterwards. He offers no details, aside from saying some features may be sports related, but with a launch date anticipated for sometime in 2017, it’s unlikely anything has been finalised yet. It’s also unclear whether the functions will come from Android Wear, or if the Hublot and Zenith watches will be lesser ‘connected’ models, similar to Tissot’s recent smartwatch, the Smart Touch.
Recent data shows that for the first time, smartwatches have overtaken shipments of Swiss watches.