Apple has reportedly poached the sales director from Swiss luxury watch maker TAG Heuer to help launch the oft-rumored “iWatch,” which is expected to be unveiled later this year. The hiring was confirmed by Jean-Claude Biver, the head of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, during a recent video interview he conducted with the American television channel CNBC.
“They did, they did. They took the sales director of TAG Heuer,” Biver told CNBC in response to rumors that Apple had been poaching talent from the Swiss watch maker. TAG Heuer is one of several luxury brands that operates under LVMH, the multibillion merger between Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy. “He took a contract from Apple to launch the iWatch,” he added.
According to the report, Apple has been looking to work closely with Swiss watch makers, without much success:
“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,” said Mario Ortelli, senior luxury goods analyst at Bernstein. “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 name.”
Apple will likely not be too pleased that Biver made these comments in the public space, but it has long been known that the Cupertino-based company has been poaching some of the top talent within the wearables, watches and health and fitness industries to assist with the development and launch of the iWatch. It has even turned to professional athletes like Kobe Bryant to test the smart watch in intense environments.
Just last month, the head of Atlas Wearables Alex Hsieh left that startup to join Apple as a firmware developer. It is widely believed that Hsieh is working closely with the iWatch team, likely to focus on activity tracking. Apple also enlisted the help of medical professional Michael O’Reilly, who met with FDA regulators alongside Apple operations executive Jeff Williams to help get approval on the iWatch before its launch.
Apple is expected to launch its first wearable at an October media event, with all signs pointing towards that device being the iWatch. The company is also likely to unveil new iPhones, iPads and Macs during the fall season, likely at standalone September and October events. iTunes chief Eddy Cue previously said that Apple’s product pipeline is the most exciting he has seen in the past 25 years.
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