TAG Heuer working on an Apple Watch rival after criticizing smartwatches

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After months of bashing Samsung, Sony, and Pebble’s “cheap, plastic-designed watches,” luxury watch maker TAG Heuer is developing its own smartwatch.

Jean-Claude Biver, head of TAG Heuer parent company LVMH’s watch division, told Bloomberg that the upcoming Apple Watch is a huge threat to sub-$2,000 watches. So TAG Heuer will be working with Silicon Valley tech companies to create its new watch, which unlike its heritage products won’t be entirely made in Switzerland.

Last summer, Apple poached Tag Heuer’s Patrick Pruniaux, the company’s VP of sales, to launch Apple Watch. Pruniaux is now senior director of special projects for Apple. After that loss, TAG Heuer CEO Stephane Linder told Macworld Editor-in-Chief Jon Phillips that he wouldn’t completely rule out a TAG-branded luxury smartwatch, but it would need to be amazing.

“If we find something, we could try it,” he said. "But I don’t see us taking a big risk, unless we find a way to make luxury watches looking like real luxury watches that provide very easy-to-use, smart information that isn’t complicated—and don’t just replicate the mobile phone.”

Then in September, Biver told German publication Die Welt that the Apple Watch “looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester” and “has no sex appeal.”

Maybe Biver has spent some time with the device since making those statements, because he told Bloomberg that he plans to wear an Apple Watch, calling it a “fantastic product, an incredible achievement.”

Apple Watch will start at $349 when it debuts this spring.

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