Selling 50,000 smartwatches in 2016 helps TAG Heuer outperform Swiss rivals

TAG Heuer’s chief executive says that the brand has grown by over 10% so far in 2016.

Jean-Claude Biver, who is also head of watches at TAG Heuer parent group LVMH, reports that Hublot has also increased sales by 1% this year, outperforming the wider Swiss watch industry, which has seen world-wide exports decline by 11% in the first 10 months of 2016.

Mr Biver told Reuters that new entry level models, priced around $1000-$2000 had hit the mark, and TAG Heuer’s Connect smartwatch had revived interest in the brand. He said 50,000 TAG Heuer Connect watches have been sold this year, and he expects that to rise to 150,000 in 2017.

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TAG Heuer has suffered less than some Swiss brands by the slowdown of sales to China, a market that Mr Biver believes will deliver strong growth.

“For us, China is a country where historically we were not very present, so it is huge opportunity,” Mr Biver told Reuters.

“We are investing massively in China while the others are cutting their investments,” he added.

Jean-Claude Biver CEO China Mars

That investment, which Mr Biver says will drive growth for the brand in 2017, includes opening 60 points of sale in China this year, and sponsoring the China National Space Agency and the country’s national football team.

Mr Biver is uncharacteristically cautious about predicting growth in 2017, suggesting the unpredictability of the world right now would peg growth to a single-digit percentage.

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