The first part of its name stands for techniques avant-garde, so it stands to follow that Tag Heuer is a brand rooted in innovation. For the most part yes, but there had been some directional changes lately, especially since the legendary Jean-Claude Biver has been standing at its helm. Tag Heuer made great inroads into ultraprecise timekeeping with hundredths of a second to thousandths of a second chronographs, but arguably those products have not been true to its core segment. Under a new management, there is a clearer sense of identity, one that balances its rich heritage with meaningful innovation.
CEO, Jean-Claude Biver:
“Yes vintage watches are a big trend, and no it’s not a good trend. The trend to repeat yesterday is not a good trend. Why? Because we cannot go forward by repeating yesterday. It’s a trend that shows people are hesitating, that people don’t know what is tomorrow. And when you don’t see tomorrow, where do you look? You look to yesterday.
“It’s not necessarily a good trend but, on the other hand, before going to tomorrow, you must understand yesterday. If you understand history, you can understand the future. I think it’s a trend that comes from millennials who need to connect first to yesterday before they can go to tomorrow, so it’s a trend that I can understand. But it’s not a trend that will last. That is probably the most important thing to say. That it’s a trend that’s necessary for the millennials but it’s not a trend on which you can build the next 10 years.
“Building the next 10 or more years is the job of visionaires. You must project, you must take risks, you must innovate, you must create. This is what has to be done. To do this you need people with courage. Courage to be wrong, courage to see different, etc.
“If you want to be successful, you must be first, different and unique. You cannot be first, different and unique without taking risks. If I want to be unique, I cannot copy others. If I want to be first, I cannot be behind anybody. Being first, different and unique positions you, gives you immediately the highest risk factor. First, different and unique has the highest risk factor, but it’s also the best way to win. If you’re first, different and unique, how can you lose?
“If the message of your brand is to repeat tradition, then you should repeat tradition. If the message of your brand is to be disruptive, and you repeat tradition, then you’re wrong because you’re not fulfilling the message of the brand. Every brand has its own message and every brand has to adapt its philosophy and management to this message. The message of Tag Heuer is techniques avant-garde. We want to be a young dynamic brand. Therefore what we do is right for the DNA of Tag Heuer, which will probably be wrong for the DNA of Zenith for instance, because Zenith has a completely different message.
“Companies today have to adapt their message. They also have to adapt to the customer. They have to communicate to the customer in their language and by language I mean tattoo or music or fashion, etc. I use language as a global definition of the behaviour. Adapting and speaking in the language of the new generation is sometimes the most difficult thing because not everybody can accept. Here’s an example: Catholicism in the ’60s decided to stop celebrating its ceremonies in Latin because not enough people understand Latin. All the old guards started whining. Come on, stop it, that language which nobody understands, why do you even need it? Language is something that people understand so it’s better to use French in France, German in Germany, etc. This way you will drive more people to come to church because they understand. See what I mean? Adapting the language is the key to newer younger audiences.”
“IF YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL , YOU MUST BE FIRST, DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE .”