TAG Heuer partners with Intel, Google on smartwatch development

Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer has announced a partnership with Intel and Google on smartwatch development. This marks the most significant move yet by the traditional watch industry to embrace the smartwatch era.

Speaking at the Baselworld watch trade show LVMH watch division president Claude Biver made it clear he thought the time had come for the Swiss watch industry to look facts in the face an accept the smartwatch is here to stay. If companies like TAG Heuer are to avoid having their customers poached by the likes of Apple they need to get in the game, and that essentially means Android Wear.

Slightly more surprising is the decision to go with Intel rather than an ARM-based SoC maker such as Qualcomm. Intel will be desperate to perform better in this category than it has in smartphones and presumably made TAG Heuer an offer it couldn’t refuse in a bid to promote its Curie wearables module.

“Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility. Our collaboration provides a rich host of synergies, forming a win-win partnership, and the potential for our three companies is enormous,” said Biver.

“By fusing beauty with technology, the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers alike, including us at Google,” said David Singleton, Director of Engineering for Android Wear. “So we’re thrilled to be working with TAG Heuer and Intel to bring a unique blend of emotion and innovation to the luxury market. Together, and using the Android Wear platform, we can imagine a better, beautiful, smarter watch.”

“As we work to enable technology experiences that provide greater utility and value to people, Intel is confident that a collective approach will inspire new innovation in wearable technology,” said Michael Bell, General Manager of Intel’s New Devices Group. “The collaboration with TAG Heuer and Google brings us closer to realizing the vision of wearable technology with a distinctive smartwatch that elevates the category.”

There is no actual product yet, but the lack of a compelling argument for mass market adoption of the smartwatch means they can afford to take the time to get it right. Apple is clearly targeting the Swiss watch consumer with the more expensive versions of its watch and that threat can’t be ignored. TAG Heuer has made a smart move in getting its retaliation in quickly and it will be interesting to see if the watch industry can teach the tech industry a thing or two about smartwatches.

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