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TAG Heuer - Interview of Frédéric Arnault, CEO of the Brand

TAG Heuer Interview of Frédéric Arnault, CEO of the Brand

2021 in a few questions

What aspects of your partnership with Porsche do you think are most important for TAG Heuer?
First of all, this is an obvious partnership because the links between Porsche and TAG Heuer go back decades, driven by shared values such as sportiness and competition, design and quality, robustness and reliability, as well as the quest for performance. By way of example, Porsche and TAG jointly built an engine that equipped the McLaren team and enabled it to win races with Alain Prost or Ayrton Senna at the wheel. Our shared history also includes actors and drivers such as Steve McQueen and Patrick Dempsey. Many people were in fact convinced that we were already working together. Such is now the case, in a global and very thorough way, and everyone recognizes the authenticity and legitimacy of the partnership, which is notably illustrated in Formula E with our TAG Heuer Porsche racing team. Our respective teams are highly motivated, and customers themselves are keen to see the results. This enthusiasm is proving a decisive factor, as this is a very ambitious multifaceted program involving a great deal of organization and coordination in the markets. Shared visibility, locations and media are backed by services and experiences designed with our customers in mind – such as picking them up at their home in a Porsche to come and collect their watch, or enabling them to enjoy race-track tests. On another level, Porsche organizes pro-am golf and tennis competitions, especially for women, at which we will have activations with our connected watches intended to address this particular audience. All this will be rolled out in each market and all boutiques. We are also considering technical collaborations on the use of materials, and of course we are working on joint products.

Interview de Frédéric Arnault, CEO de la marque

Frédéric Arnault © Gian Marco Castelberg

What are the key assets of your Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition?
We worked hard on this launch, starting from the basis of the Carrera sports chronograph released in 2020 for TAG Heuer’s 160th anniversary, into which we integrated powerful Porsche design symbols. For example, the highly distinctive texture of the dial evokes asphalt, on which hour-markers are replaced by numerals picking up the numbers on a Porsche dashboard, while the leather strap is adorned with stitching evoking those of the Porsche interior, and the carmaker’s name appears discreetly on the bezel. The oscillating weight of the automatic movement, visible through the exhibition caseback and shaped like a Porsche steering wheel, is extremely attractive. This special series has been as successful as we had hoped, but we want to keep it exclusive and time-limited. Other models made with Porsche will follow.

Interview of Frédéric Arnault, CEO of the Brand

TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche chronograph © TAG Heuer

You've been at the head of TAG Heuer since last year, and you initially devoted considerable energy to connected watches; have you reached your goals?
While we are very satisfied with the performance of the connected watch, the Covid crisis has obviously thwarted our objectives. The watch has found its audience with a high adoption rate, which we track at one month and six months after purchase. Customers wear it daily and give positive reviews of the experience, which is what really counts for this connected product because there is a real notion of actual usage. Their feedback is excellent in terms of the design and features, dial versions and the experience, especially in golf. Sixty percent of new TAG Heuer customers are new customers, who may subsequently take an interest in mechanical watches, so it's up to us to build loyalty. Our objectives span several years, and we are investing with the long-term perspective in mind.

Interview of Frédéric Arnault, CEO of the Brand

TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition © TAG Heuer

What have been your other priorities since then?
I took up my post on July 1st 2020, and managing the crisis clearly took top priority and this involved postponing launches, reacting to the many measures taken in the different markets, and adjusting budgets. We then had to define the strategic vision for the next five years, where we want to take the brand, and communicate that internally, which isn't always easy via videoconferencing. Fortunately, I already knew a significant part of the network because I had already traveled around the world.

How does your young age at the head of such a big brand play a driving role, or does it tend to curb your momentum?
In the course of the brand’s history, young leaders have taken the reins. One need only think of the Heuer family in particular, since its founder was 21 years old at the time, while his son and grandson were 25 and 28 years old respectively when they took the helm. It is a brand that has a heritage of being pioneering and avant-garde, of operating differently. The fact that I am young accentuates this character trait. I look at things from a different angle. TAG Heuer is the brand that invests the most in connected watches, in the digital experience (long before the Covid wave), while drawing inspiration from other universes such as fashion for orchestrating product launches. This differentiation is clearly visible in our advertising with Porsche.

Interview of Frédéric Arnault, CEO of the Brand

TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche chronograph © TAG Heuer

Should we expect TAG Heuer to explore new fields of expression?
We have defined areas in which TAG Heuer must nurture a strong presence, with a priority on sports, which are characterized by mental strength, speed, technicality and performance. Motorsports naturally takes pride of place in that TAG Heuer was a pioneer in this field. In recent years we had taken somewhat more of a backseat role, but we are going to reaffirm this leadership – particularly with Porsche and the strengthening of our commitment to Red Bull Racing. At the same time, new sports disciplines – such as golf, triathlon and potentially sailing, – are opening up to the use of smartwatches, as too are the fields of health and wellness.

What milestone events will we see in 2021 for TAG Heuer within the current context, and what product highlights will there be?
The partnership with Porsche will be rolled out, because it is very important for us globally in the long term. In addition, we are going to relaunch the Aquaracer this summer with a very special design. We are going to encourage local consumption and rely on customer curiosity. It's exciting to work on purely digital launches, since it requires a different kind of creativity, but we're looking forward to meeting people again! 

 

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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.

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