July 4, 2014
Updated: The person Apple hired is Patrick Pruniaux, who was TAG Hauer's vice president of sales and retail, according to 9to5Mac. As originally published: Apple has poached the sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer to help launch the long-rumored “iWatch.” This news comes from Jean-Claude Biver, the head of LVMH’s watch brands, who spoke to CNBC. Biver is happy for the unnamed employee, saying the new role represents a great opportunity for him. "If it had been a direct competitor, I would have felt a bit betrayed, but if he goes to Apple I think it is a great experience for him," he said. LVMH owns Swiss watchmakers TAG Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith. Take a look: Cupertino is expected to hire more Swiss watch experts in an attempt to brand the iWatch as “Swiss made.” According to Mario Ortelli, senior luxury goods analyst at Bernstein, that may be easier said than done. He notes:
For sure they are trying to approach the Swiss manufacturers, but the Swiss have got no great interest in working with Apple – if you are a luxury producer and you cooperate with Apple, you have got a dilution They (Swiss watchmakers) do not want to create a device like the iPhone, the iPhone is designed in California and assembled in China – so they don't want to dilute the value of the Swiss nameOrtelli thinks Apple could poise a threat to low-end Swiss watches, and serve as an opportunity for high-end watch brands. The iWatch “could create more young watch consumers who will then be introduced to the watch market.” Apple is expected to unveil the first-generation iWatch in September or October.