Baselworld 2015 kicked off today in Switzerland, bringing together the world’s top watch brands under one roof. The Apple Watch is a looming shadow over the show this year and it is no surprise that Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer decided to make a big announcement about its own smart watch plans.
TAG Heuer is collaborating with Silicon Valley giants Intel and Google in producing its first “connected watch”. Intel will provide the hardware capabilities while Google will provide the software capabilities with Android Wear. The one thing missing was the watch itself, which is not expected to be showcased until the end of 2015. According to the announcement, this will be the first luxury watch for the Android Wear platform, bringing together Swiss craftsmanship and tradition with Silicon Valley technology.
As Tractica has covered in our recent Smart Watches report, there will be a growing market for both touchscreen watches and traditional analog timepieces blended with digital back ends. It will be interesting to see how much of the TAG Heuer connected watch will retain its analog capabilities. My guess is that with Android Wear as the underlying software platform, it will be a full touchscreen watch but will have a TAG Heuer-designed watch face and design. The Huawei Watch is the closest comparison that comes to mind, with its luxurious look and feel, which so far is unique among other Android Wear watches.
On the whole, the announcement seems to be aimed at the Swiss watchmaking fraternity, and was a bit of competitive positioning from TAG Heuer. The announcement itself could have been better scripted and looked like it had been put together last minute, without much prior discussion. First, having no watch to show at the press conference, even a digital rendering, is very disappointing. Additionally, during the press conference, the CEO of TAG Heuer made a comment in which he assumed that the TAG Heuer watch would be the first Android Wear watch, which calls into question the traditional Swiss watchmaking community’s level of knowledge about smart watches.
The announcement itself doesn’t have much significance overall, as most Swiss watchmakers are already known to be working with third-party technology companies, including those from Silicon Valley. I would be surprised if Google and Intel keep their relationship with TAG Heuer exclusive, and would expect that they will provide open licensable hardware and software platforms to multiple other Swiss brands.