It was reported on CNBC earlier this morning that Apple has hired Patrick Pruniaux, the sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer to help them launch their new iWatch. Apple intends on using the prestigious "Swiss made" label to market its new gadget, according to the head of LVMH's watch brands Jean-Claude Biver. Biver is the Chairman of Hublot (pronounced "ooblo"), a Swiss enterprise creating luxury watches and founded in 1980 by Italian Carlo Crocco. The company currently operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of France's LVMH.
Biver said the watchmaker's sales director left as recently as last week, "to take a contract with Apple" in order to launch the iWatch. LVMH owns Swiss watchmakers TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith. Biver added that "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."
Apple, which is rumored to be releasing the hotly anticipated iWatch later this year, has tried to poach a number of employees from high-end Swiss watch makers without much success, according to analysts.
Apple's plans to hire Swiss watch experts are an attempt to market its product as "Swiss made", which senior luxury goods analyst at Bernstein, Mario Ortelli, said is a label that is synonymous with quality when it comes to watches.
Ortelli added that the Swiss watchmakers don't want to create a device like the iPhone that's designed in California and assembled in China. They don't want to dilute the value of the Swiss name.
Ortelli further noted that Apple's new product only poses a threat to the low-end Swiss watches, but ultimately it is an opportunity for high-end watch brands, as it could create more young watch consumers who will then be introduced to the watch market.
Then again, Apple may go all out and produce something that's very high-end that could take the Swiss Watchmakers by surprise. In 2012 we presented a report that included a promotional video from Omega who detailed how they used Liquid Metal in the creation of their stunning watch which is noted below.
In May Apple and Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc., entered into a second Master Transaction Agreement that extends Apple's exclusive license for creating consumer electronic products. Apple has yet to publicly announce the use of this material in a meaningful way. Introducing it with Apple's future iDevice could set it apart from the wannabe's in the wearable computer space.
In June The New York Times noted Apple's Jony Ive stating that "there are materials we haven’t worked in before. I’ve been working on this stuff for a few years now. Tim is fundamentally involved in pushing into these new areas and into these materials."
Considering that Apple only signed their original agreement with Liquid Metal in 2010 and just temporarily extended it last month, it would seem that Ive's could have been describing his work with liquid metal.
In the end, Apple is going all out for their next iDevice and the momentum and excitement is just getting started. Today's revelation that Apple has hired the sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer is just another beat in Apple's war drum. It appears that Apple intends to step into the wearables market very loudly with their next iDevice and take the market by storm. Will they pull it off? Only time will tell.