bellowed with that trademark bombast so closely associated with him. “Thank god I didn’t retire! Presenting this wedding to you is my proudest moment after 41 years in this industry.”
Following this, Biver took a moment to address the million dollar question that was on everyone’s mind. How did one of the largest Swiss watch brands go from a “smartwatches, bah!” attitude to one that embraces the disruptive technology with open arms? “The Watch Valley has always produced classical, high quality timepieces that can last for eternity,” Biver said. “But now we must ask ourselves, how do we create a connected watch that young consumers will desire and that can connect generations?”
In contrast to many of its peers, TAG Heuer chose not to unveil its smartwatch at Baselworld, and this was the first inkling I got that the brand was up to something potentially game-changing. During a conversation with Françoise Bezzola at Baselworld 2015, TAG Heuer’s Vice President of Communications, she told me, “We didn’t want to rush to launch our Connected Watch for Baselworld. It was important that we took the time to work with the best partners possible instead of just putting a chip inside a bracelet and saying that we had a smartwatch of our own.”
TAG Heuer’s reason for going all the way to Silicon Valley in search of allies on this quest to build a smartwatch is simple: it knew it could not do it alone. “It would be hubris to imagine we could develop our own OS!” Biver exclaimed, throwing his hands up in the air for emphasis. “Without our partners at Google and Intel, we would still be saying ‘connected watches are not interesting’ like many other Swiss watchmakers.”
THE NUTS AND GUTS OF THE As the countdown timer struck “00:00”, the screen behind Biver lit up to show to the world the culmination of a year-long collaborative effort between the two Valleys. A massive wheel of cheese created at Biver’s own rustic mountain farm in Switzerland was then carefully manoeuvred onto the stage. As Biver hacked it into edible pieces with a foot-long saw, he took the opportunity to explain how many of the early Swiss watchmakers were farmers to begin with.
After the cheese had been cut up, Krzanich took his turn at making