tag heuer

LVMH watch chief Jean-Claude Biver announced today that its popular luxury watch line TAG Heuer is pushing ahead with plans for a smartwatch. At a press conference in Switzerland this morning, the executive admitted he had dismissed the threat of wearables, but recently had a change of heart.

“We started on the project about four months ago,” Biver told journalists. “We have done several partnerships and might also do acquisitions.” Google and Intel are among those rumored to be working with TAG on its smartwatch, which is believed to feature both mechanical actions and digital sensors.

The announcement comes as the highly anticipated debut of the Apple Watch looms. Biver has publicly lambasted the device, saying it “looks too feminine” and that it was “designed by a student.” It’s clear, though, that his company is taking it and the slew of other high-profile smartwatches very seriously.

“Smartwatches represent a challenge to the Swiss watch industry that is comparable to the appearance of quartz technology,” said TAG’s newly appointed general manager Guy Semo. “We cannot ignore this tsunami that is coming closer.” He declined to elaborate further on the watch-maker’s digital plans.

Interestingly enough, Jony Ive predicted the tsunami back in September, before the Apple Watch was officially unveiled. Hinting at the widely rumored smartwatch project, the designer told The New York Times’ Nick Bilton that Switzerland was in trouble, although Nick says he used much bolder terms.

The Apple Watch is slated to launch early next year, with a starting price of $349. TAG Heuer is expected to introduce its smartwatch in late 2015.

[Reuters]