Apple Snags Luxury Watchmaker Exec Ahead of Rumored iWatch Launch
Apple has dropped just about all pretense as to whether or not it’s working on a smartwatch by hiring one of the most high-profile executives in the luxury watch industry.
“Our sales director left yesterday because he took a contract from Apple to launch the iWatch,” Jean-Claude Biver, head of LVMH’s luxury-watch division, which includes Swiss brands TAG Heuer and Hublot, told CNBC on Friday.
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The executive Biver mentioned was not named, but a source in contact with 9to5Mac claimed that Apple hired Patrick Pruniaux, TAG Heuer’s vice-president of sales and retail.
But rather than appearing disturbed that his company could be on the verge of being completely disrupted in the same way that Apple upended Sony’s Walkman with its iPod over a decade ago, Biver seemed more flattered than upset at losing one of his top sales executives.
“If it had been a direct competitor, I would have felt a bit betrayed, but if he goes to Apple, I think it is a great experience for him,” Biver told CNBC.
Several reports in recent months have suggested that the iWatch is already in production, and will be released in October, but Apple has steadfastly declined to comment on all the speculation surrounding a potential wearable computing device.
By hiring one of the top luxury-watch sales executives in the business, however, Apple has all but confirmed that it will soon release something in the realm of a smartwatch device.
“I think it’s very clever if Apple is [making an iWatch],” Biver said. “And if they would do it, I would really say bravo. Because my feeling is that Apple is not only a technology company, it’s also a retailer and it’s also a luxury brand.”