Well, there goes the neighborhood. Earlier this week, with little to no public fanfare, TAG Heuer became the first Swiss watch company to open a Silicon Valley office. Setting up shop on Intel’s Santa Clara, California, campus, TAG now has about a dozen R&D employees cranking away on the Connected Watch (and maybe other things too) and even hired away Tom Foldesi, a former Senior Director at Intel’s New Devices Group. If nothing else, this is a serious statement that TAG Heuer and its digital products are here to stay.
According to TAG Heuer, it manufactured and sold 60,000 Connected Watches this year, and it also has plans to launch a new smartwatch in April 2017 that it will make in much larger numbers. The new division reports back to Guy Semon, head of R&D for TAG Heuer back in Switzerland (and the same man who brought us things like the MikroTourbillonS and the MikroPendulumS).Â
“We want to have our finger on the pulse,” said TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver in an interview with Bloomberg. “In Switzerland, we’re where everything is happening in the traditional watchmaking industry. We believe in the future of connected watches, so we have to go where they’re being developed.” Say what you will about smartwatches and whether or not traditional watchmakers should be trying to create them, but on this point you can’t argue with Biver at all.
While TAG is the first to do this, I don’t think they’re going to be kicking off a trend. Other than MMT, which not only prides itself on being Swiss in origin but also on creating its digital products in Switzerland, no major Swiss watchmaker has shown a level of investment or dedication to smartwatches anywhere close to what TAG is doing.Â