TAG Heuer “Carrera is our flagship collection”
In this interview, Stéphane Bianchi, CEO of TAG Heuer, talks about TAG Heuer's 160th anniversary, the importance of the Carrera collection and the brand's strengths to face the years to come.
How is TAG Heuer celebrating its 160th anniversary in 2020 ?
In various ways throughout the year. First of all, we will organize an anniversary roadshow across our key markets as soon as the situation permits, in order to present the history of the brand and the innovations that have punctuated its 160 years. In addition, this great moment will also be an opportunity to bring together all our employees in Switzerland for a celebration in due style – especially after this tough period. The atmosphere of anniversaries is conducive to cohesion and reunions among colleagues who do not work at the same sites or in the same subsidiaries. We will share with them the vision we are cultivating for the coming years. Finally, the 160th anniversary will be marked by the creation of several limited series and reissues of iconic models, notably in the Carrera collection.
To what extent can such a legacy be leveraged and useful today in selling watches ?
TAG Heuer has a Heritage Department, headed by Catherine Eberlé-Devaux, which does everything possible throughout the world to select the most relevant elements of our patrimony and stage them at brand events, or even re-issue them. TAG Heuer has such a historical treasure trove at its disposal that a large part of the work consists in carefully sorting out the models to single out, along with deciding which milestones we wish to choose in order explain more than a century and a half of history. Recent history already represents a fabulously rich heritage, since the Autavia and Carrera are only a few decades old. Exhibiting the incomparable legacy of TAG Heuer helps convince customers that they are making the right choice when buying one of our watches.
Carrera Heuer 02 160th Anniversary Special Edition © TAG Heuer
What are TAG Heuer’s main strengths in facing the third decade of the third millennium ?
First of all, the heritage we have just mentioned, and obviously its products, starting with the three iconic collections born in the 1960s : Autavia, Carrera and Monaco. But TAG Heuer is reaching new customers with its connected watch, and will also be evolving its Aquaracer, Formula 1 and Link lines over the next few years. The product potential is enormous, not only via fresh interpretations but also through the renewal of ranges. At the same time, we are going to rebalance distribution between multi-brand retailers and our own boutiques, whose number will increase. We will also be inaugurating a new boutique concept, to be unveiled for the first time in Zurich in 2020. I am in favor of a harmonious mix between the two types of distribution, especially since some retailers are really superb partners. Finally, TAG Heuer launched its new website at the start of the year after a full year’s work, and I congratulate our teams who have done a remarkable job. All the watches featured on the site are automatically set to the timezone of the visitor, who can activate it on the screen. The interactivity with Internet users fosters stronger links. Digital becomes a channel for customer relationships, while helping our retailers by providing information or referrals to their stores. The work done over the last 12 months will thus become gradually apparent in 2020.
Autavia Bronze © TAG Heuer
2020 is also a Carrera year : what does the new collection look like ?
This is TAG Heuer’s premier collection in terms of sales. The Carrera is the chief mainstay of TAG Heuer. The 2020 new releases are chronograph models, in more or less sporty versions, which we will be presenting in a few months’ time. One of them comes in a limited series of 1860 (a nod to Heuer’s founding year) with an extremely pared-down style inspired by the 2447S, which should appeal to collectors.
Does TAG Heuer still sell a lot of tourbillon watches and what is the plan in this complicated watch niche ?
Yes, TAG Heuer remains active in this niche with new tourbillons and innovations every year, all with an exceptional quality-price ratio, given that the ‘entry-level’ ones cost less than 20,000 francs. We continue to invest in this segment, whether in terms of new talent that we are recruiting, or R&D, such as carbon nanotube technology, which has enormous potential.
Is the saga of limited-edition Monaco watches marking the collection’s 50th anniversary bearing fruit, and do you plan to repeat this exercise ?
The five 169-piece series of the Monaco were a huge success and made a lasting impression, which was the goal, without any real commercial stakes. The same goes for the 50 box sets containing one example of each and which sold out almost instantly. We dedicated them to our keenest TAG Heuer collectors so that they could have something by which to remember this jubilee. However, since the end of 2019, the Monaco is now also available with our Manufacture Heuer02 movement, which is endowed with an 80-hour power reserve. To end the year on a high note, Phillips auctioned off a restored Monaco from our museum featuring a hand-engraved Calibre 11 on the back, which sold for over $80,000. This year, we will also be presenting limited anniversary editions, a few months from now.
Monaco 1999 et 2019 Editions Limitées © TAG Heuer
Are you aiming to take the brand into new fields of expression in order to pursue its development ?
Yes, but only those representing resolutely TAG Heuer territory. We are remaining in the realm of speed, gliding, motorsport and golf for the connected watch. TAG Heuer is an action-driven brand for which self-surpassing is extremely important. We are preparing for a major global partnership of unprecedented scope that will also benefit the Carrera collection.
WorldTempus now offers the GMT Spring 2020 issue, available for download below.
Over 150 years of watchmaking savoir-faire and technical innovation have made TAG Heuer a global reference in avant-garde sports watches. As it tracked the rise of sports demanding increasingly precise timekeeping, TAG Heuer continually developed its unique capabilities through a long-term vision of what watchmaking is today, and what it will look like tomorrow.Find out more >
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