TAG Heuer has taken on a new trajectory that sees it charting a new course and deviating from the path it was on before, thanks to a new CEO who is set on shaking things up from top down. For the last few years, the brand has been known as a producer of sporty watches, having briefly flirted with making high complication, haute horlogerie timepieces; piquing the interest of watch snobs and serious horophiles in the process. Now, it seems that CEO watch maverick Jean-Claude Biver has other plans: He has halted the brand’s haute ambitions and introduced a raft of watches with extremely accessible price points, raising eyebrows (and heartbeats) in doing so.
For instance, the new Carrera Heuer 01, equipped with an in-house chronograph calibre produced at the brand’s new Chevenez factory, retails well below the five figure mark at $7,200. Chronographs with in-house movements rarely, if at all, retail at such accessible prices. Now, considering how the industry was still reeling from the shock of the Swiss franc unpegging from the euro at the start of the year (there were fears that prices would skyrocket as a result), this move seemed like a godsend for both retailers and consumers alike.
Then, there’s the series of watches made in collaboration with the brand’s newest ambassadors, who just happen to be pop culture’s biggest names: Supermodel Cara Delevingne, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and the Emperor of EDM (electronic dance music) himself, David Guetta. Purists may scoff, but the move opens TAG Heuer up to a new audience: A young, aspirational demographic who presumably follow Delevingne, Guetta and Ronaldo’s every move on social media… religiously.
Why bother preaching to the converted, seemed to be Biver’s message. Better to tempt a Delevingne devotee with a quartz-powered sport-chic number, dusted with diamonds and signed by the It Girl herself. At 41mm, the Carrera Cara Delevingne Special Edition is the perfect size for the modern girl-about-town. And the rose gold-plated hands and hour markers and the quilted leather strap add a touch of Chanel-esque luxe without breaking the bank: At $5,500,it’s just under the price of a 2.55 or small Classic Flap.
For the music festival junkie or hardcore EDM fanboy, there’s the Formula 1 David Guetta Special Edition. The black-and-blue colourway of the bezel is well-suited for clubbing, but its real purpose is to act as a day/night indicator since the watch comes with a second time zone function.The aged black calfskin cuff, though, works great as a party accessory.Priced at just $3,350 and waterproof to 200m, we won’t be surprised to find a few of these 43mm timekeepers strapped to the wrists of half-naked hunks at the next ZoukOut.
Knowing full well the extent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s popularity, Biver—ever the marketing genius—unleashed the Formula 1 Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 Limited Edition in just 3,000 pieces to create a frenzy of demand. Green accents on this 42mm quartz-powered chronograph recall a grassy football pitch, while the black chequered dial and NATO strap lend a sporty vibe. PVD coating on the steel case gives the watch a robust quality. With a price tag of $2,150, it won’t be long before these tickers are sold out (if they aren’t already).
Just so the snobs don’t turn their backs on TAG Heuer entirely, CEO Jean-Claude Biver announced that the brand will launch an incredibly value-for-money high complication watch later this year.The 45mm Carrera Heuer 02 will be kitted out with a COSC-certified chronograph as well as a tourbillon regulator. Will Biver’s plan work? Will TAG Heuer become LVMH’s biggest money-spinner? If past experience is anything to go by, then it seems very likely. Besides, as much as we’ll miss the brand’s high complication watches of the last few years, there is a salve on the horizon: The Carrera Heuer 02 and its indicative price of CHF 15,000 ($21,400); which makes it one of, if not, the most wallet-friendly tourbillon ticker in town. You’d be mad to say no to that.
By Aaron de Silva