Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer is to build an Android watch together with Google and Intel to compete with devices from consumer-electronics makers such as the much-hyped Apple Watch.
The announcement was made at the Baseworld trade show in Switzerland on Thursday and the firm confirmed it will use Google’s Android Wear operating system for wearables, as well as processor chips from tech giant Intel.
Jean-Claude Biver, Tag Heuer president, said: “Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility. Our collaboration provides a rich host of synergies, forming a win-win partnership, and the potential for our three companies is enormous.”
The move makes Tag Heuer the first high-end watchmaker to join the wearable tech market, with analysis suggesting that the collaboration was triggered by Apple’s forthcoming Apple Watch Edition. As E&T news reported, it has an 18-carat gold case in either yellow or rose gold finishes and will start at £8,000 – the closest so far to a traditional luxury wristwatch.
Speaking at Baseworld Mr Biver said this was his “biggest announcement ever” in his 40 years of working in the industry and told the BBC: “The whole look of the watch will be different. It will be a traditional look. It will not look like an Apple Watch. An Apple Watch looks like a miniaturised copy of its phone. Our watch will never look like a phone.”
Although no details of the design or functionality of the device were revealed, the watch is set to be launched by the end of the year, at which point the price and functions will also be unveiled.
Figures from researcher Strategy Analytics released earlier this month show that the global market for smartwatch shipments is expected to rise to 28.1 million units in 2015 from 4.6 million the year before.
It is estimated that Apple will capture 55 per cent of the market, despite going on sale only in April this year, and even for the typically traditional Swiss watch industry these numbers are just too large to ignore.