GENEVA - When Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of luxury watch maker Tag Heuer, pulls out the smartwatch the Swiss company will begin selling in November, he makes one thing clear: "We will not compete against Apple or Samsung." The reason he offers is compelling. "If we do that, we will disappear."
Biver, who is also chairman of Hublot, another Swiss maker of high-end watches, spoke with The Nikkei recently on a wide range of topics, from China's economic slowdown (he's not worried about it), to the scandals that have plagued FIFA, football's governing body (he "personally trusts" its embattled president, Sepp Blatter). But it was the company's much-anticipated new timepiece that dominated the conversation.
Swiss in spirit
While the CEO stressed that the new smartwatch was not designed to take on the likes of Apple, he did say it will offer something that rival products do not. Biver said the company will keep "the biggest surprise" top secret until the watch's launch in November.
In March, Tag Heuer announced it was partnering with US tech companies Intel and Google to develop smartwatches. Biver said the new timepiece will be unveiled on Nov. 9 in New York and go on sale in 150 stores worldwide the next day. The price has been set at US$1,500.
The gadget will have most of the functions found in other other smartwatches, though voice recognition will not be among them. That capability proved an obstacle in designing a watch that was water resistant -- a characteristic the company was determined to retain, in keeping with its sporty image.
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