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TAG Heuer - Harnessing The Avant-Garde

TAG Heuer Harnessing The Avant-Garde

Frédéric Arnault shares his vision for TAG Heuer in 2023

LVMH Watch Week 2023 saw TAG Heuer presenting its first watches of the year in Singapore. Technology took pole position, with new versions of the Aquaracer Solargraph and Connected watches dominating the conversation, but heritage pieces also had a strong part to play, with the Monza Flyback Chronometer and the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary making waves in the watch world. Brand CEO Frédéric Arnault sits down with WorldTempus to talk 2023 market projections, the importance of staying innovative and why community matters.

Exploiter l'avant-garde

Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph © TAG Heuer

TAG Heuer is starting 2023 on a strong and active note, with the new versions of the Aquaracer Solargraph and Connected Watch. The obvious theme we're seeing here with these launches is technology, and the push into exciting new territories. Why was it important to start the year with this message?
So avant-garde innovation and technology have always been essential to us, as part of our heritage, and it's very important that we keep this alive. That's the challenge of being TAG Heuer; "avant-garde" is literally in our name (Techniques d'Avant Garde). It means we strive to be first, to be pioneers, to open doors that others are not opening. That's what we did in previous years and it's what we'll keep on doing. We continuously deliver this message, particularly with the Connected Watch and with the Aquaracer Solargraph. We wanted to come to LVMH Watch Week with strong messages, and be it the Connected Watch Golf with a groundbreaking new technological feature or a great new design on the Aquaracer Solargraph, I think we've managed to do exactly that. 

Harnessing The Avant-Garde

Connected Calibre E4 42mm Golf Edition © TAG Heuer

These are exciting advancements we're seeing here. Could you give us a bit more insight on how they came about? Were they driven more by market demand, for example, or did they come about as a result of internal developments and the in-house push for advancement?
Well, let's take the Aquaracer Solargraph as an example. Nobody asked us to do it. That's simply because people didn't think it was possible for TAG Heuer to come up with such technology, so it really came from our teams internally; it came via our creative processes and brainstorming. Then, when we released the first watch, the general reaction was — this is amazing, we want more of this. Hence now you see the second generation of it.

Harnessing The Avant-Garde

Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph © TAG Heuer

Same thing for the Connected Watch. People didn't think what we did with the Golf was possible. It was totally new for us when we launched it. Now, we have more than 500,000 users on the mobile app, we saw more than 2 million rounds of golf played in 2022 supported by our app. So we have an extremely active database, and we're constantly trying to see how we can engage them even more with our products and amaze them with new functions.

Harnessing The Avant-Garde

Connected Calibre E4 42mm Golf Edition © TAG Heuer

I'm really appreciating the range that I see here amongst the new launches. You have the focus on new technology and avant-garde pieces, but then you also have watches that pay tribute to your history. I'm referring to the Monza Flyback Chronometer and the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary. To me, seeing TAG Heuer pushing new launches in different sectors is an encouraging and optimistic sign at the beginning of a year that many economic analysts are telling us will be defined by a slowing economy. Am I right to conclude that you project strong results for TAG Heuer in 2023?
Definitely, and for a few reasons. One, we're building upon a strong brand dynamic, something that we started a few years ago. And 2022 was very strong for us; our new launches were very successful. Currently, we have a healthy level of stock, a healthy distribution and a strong demand for the kind of new product we're creating. About the market conditions — yes, a few months ago, there was a lot of concern about inflation in the United States, the situation in China, the war in Europe… But I feel that the Euro is looking strong right now, and we should stay optimistic. 

Harnessing The Avant-Garde

Monza Flyback Chronometer © TAG Heuer

Moving on to the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary. There are a couple of ways to approach an anniversary watch; you either go full-blown nostalgia and appeal to those who love TAG Heuer's heritage, or you can bring out something truly new and groundbreaking. You've chosen the former path with this piece, but was it always clear to you which way you wanted to go on this occasion?
Generally speaking, we don't invest too much in pure re-editions just for the sake of nostalgia. We do it very rarely, when it makes the most sense. So this is an exception. What we do instead is take inspiration from the past, and injecting strong modernity into it. Not all our customers know our heritage, but when they work through the story and discover more about the watch, they see that it's deeply rooted in the history of our brand. Look at this year's Monza. It looks and feels modern, with the open dial, the overall shape of it. But the case is of course something from our past, which we have tweaked. The hands and the pushers too, they're taken from heritage models. Generally that's our approach at TAG Heuer, though as I said, the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary is an exception — for this one we felt there was a demand to be faithful to the past. 

Harnessing The Avant-Garde

Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary © TAG Heuer

I'm just going to talk a bit about where we are today for LVMH Watch Week 2023 — we're in beautiful Singapore. Industry observers often point to Singapore as an example of a marketplace that's very important in terms of global watch business, not necessarily in terms of volume, but in terms of influence and in terms of how you can see watch trends start to evolve and emerge in Singapore, trends that later go on to manifest elsewhere around the world. That's for the watch business in general, but specifically for TAG Heuer, what does a market like Singapore bring to the table?
Singapore is one of the top markets for us, within the top 10. It's very influential in Asia, of course, but also across the world. We have a close community of collectors here who are very passionate, who have strong connections to some of the key individuals in our company. Our Heritage Director Nick Biebuyck used to be based here, and he still has a lot of friends here who give us lots of input. These launches we have, the creative process is internally driven by our teams, but we try to be open and listen to what the collectors love, to what fans of the brand want, and we try to integrate that in our process. Singapore is one of the cities where we stay close to the community in that way. It's very important for TAG Heuer, and for me personally, to stay connected as much as possible to those who love the brand. 


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