Luxury Watchmaker Welcomes Smartwatch Competition

By World Economic Forum – Flickr: Jean-Claude Biver – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The head of a luxury watch firm says his industry should welcome smartwatches rather than seeing tech firms as a threat.

Jean-Claude Biver, head of several watchmaking firms including Tag Heuer was speaking to the BBC at an industry trade event. He said the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung should be invited to exhibit at such events even though it might upset traditionalists.

Biver takes a straightforward approach to why devices such as the Apple watch should be classed as watches by the industry: “it’s a bracelet that gives you information: hours, minutes, the date.”

While some might fear smartwatches would take business away from manufacturers of expensive wristwatches, Biver argued that they could help the industry in the long term. His logic is that a younger generation that’s always had a phone with the time on it won’t be in the habit of wearing anything on their wrist, but the smartwatch user of today could be the luxury wristwatch user of the future: “Imagine a generation who did not wear any watch. It would be much more difficult for us to sell them something.”

The BBC notes that Biver has a history of responding to technological advancements, having helped the Swiss watch business survive and thrive in the face of cheap Japanese quartz battery watches.