The “king of watches” rejects Apple threat

On of the most powerful men in the luxury retail has said it’s time to stop, see the smartwatch makers Apple and Google as a threat.

Jean-Claude Biver, runs watchmakers Tag Heuer, Hublot and Zenith, said the smartwatch will increase in its industry.

Mr Biver, the chief of the watch at French luxury goods giant LVMH, was instrumental in the rejuvenation of the Swiss industry in the 1970s and 80s.

The entrepreneur also warned about the impact of the US-China trade.

Speaking during the Baselworld watch and jewelry fair in Switzerland, is the global showcase for the Swiss industry, Mr. Biver Apple and Samsung said, should be invited to show at the event.

But he said traditionalists in the industry would be against it. “A lot of people would not want Apple here. I know people who say that this [event] should be Yes only for the Swiss

“The Apple watch is a watch: it is a bracelet, the you information: hours, minutes, date.

“But there are too many people here [in Basel] that don’t think it is a watch. There are people here who say that if you are not Swiss, you can’t be here. It’s like say, say, Kia, you can’t come to the Geneva Motor Show, in South Korea.”Baselworld: the Watch, on tradition and heritageSwiss watchmaker shell throw your fact

Mr. Biver’s side swipe parts of the industry will find resonance, due to its decades of experience in deal-making and the revival of the brands, especially after the Japanese manufacturers emerged as a powerful competitor with their quartz-battery products.

His early use of product placement, especially in James Bond movies, and celebrity endorsements are now routine in the luxury goods sector.

Apple sold about 20 million smartwatches in the last year, and many analysts think it will be the next big challenge for the Swiss industry.

Baselworld saw the introduction of several hybrid smartwatches, which are a mixture of traditional mechanical properties with the connectivity.

But, it is crucial that the technological leadership of Apple and Samsung has made it very popular with younger consumers.

Mr Biver said one of the biggest challenges for his industry is to buy a new generation, the traditional watches.

“Apple and Samsung are the makers of the watch, because they teach to people wear something on your wrist.

“Imagine a generation that does not wear a watch. It would be much more difficult for us to sell them something.”

The traditional watchmaker’s Apple and Samsung should accept rather than run away, because you could learn so much, the industry veteran said.

Mr Biver told a far greater threat was the current geo-political situation. A China-US trade war and the growth of protectionism threatens to bring the luxury sector, the recovery to a halt.

“If the changes in mood, pessimism, the luxury suffers in the sector… In this moment, we are on the verge of something that could be harmful.”

He said it recently had a big turnaround in luxury goods sales in China, and especially in watches among young people. “China is the driving force in the recovery” of luxury goods, he said.

Swiss watch exports were up 12.8% in the first two months of the year, with Hong Kong and China is increasing by 30%.