TAG Heuer was a brand in transition last year as Stéphane Bianchi, new CEO for the brand and head of LVMH Watchmaking, got his feet under the desk and plotted a fresh course after the departure of Jean-Claude Biver.
2019 was the 50th anniversary of the iconic Monaco, and a series of limited editions got great press and sold out quickly.
But that was not enough to prevent sales falling by 13%, according to Morgan Stanley, taking a brand on the cusp of breaking into the CHF 1 billion club back in the pack on CHF 851 million.
LVMH Watch Week in January was an opportunity to show new watches to a select group of retailers and journalists who gathered in Dubai before anybody had even heard of Coronavirus.
However, because it would have been impossible to fly in thousands of TAG Heuer partners, the brand decided only to introduce a single limited edition watch, the Carrera Silver Limited Edition designed to kick-off 2020 as the 160th anniversary for the marque.
In March, the last major party of the pre-Covid-19 era took place in New York to launch a new Connected smartwatch.
We know now, with the benefit of hindsight, that the virus was already running wild in the city.
Frédéric Arnault gave the keynote (pictured top), which at the time felt like an interesting development. He has since been appointed as CEO of TAG Heuer as well as retaining his role as strategy and digital director.
He is the fourth son of billionaire Bernard Arnault, LVMH Group’s chairman and supremo.
Watchmaking contributes around CHF 2 billion (€1.9bn) in sales to the group’s turnover of €54 billion, so to have an Arnault directing strategy is a sign of its growing significance to the family.