State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver ABTW Interviews

If you needed just one ally in the watch industry, one voice on matters, or one really good opinion from the inside... then Jean-Claude Biver would be an excellent choice. Current CEO of TAG Heuer, mastermind of Hublot, and champion of both Omega and Blancpain, as well as "head of watches" at LVMH, Jean-Claude Biver shares with aBlogtoWatch a few 2015 end-of-the-year thoughts and predictions for the year 2016.

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver ABTW Interviews

aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): 2015 was mostly about re-positioning TAG Heuer in terms of the majority of your time and efforts. What are some of the things you did which you are particularly proud of or feel that yielded the most positive results?

Jean-Claude Biver: Re-positioning the TAG Heuer collection was just one aspect of our time and efforts. It was eventually the easiest to do. What has been done is a real cultural change of the brand. We have tried to re-connect the brand to the values Jack Heuer had developed. "Connect TAG Heuer to Heuer" was the name given to my program, and we have brought to the brand a new cultural behavior where the customer is the King and the product is the Queen.

We have restructured the integrated industry, dial factory, case factory, and the movement factory. We have restructured the product by trying to bring not only a better competitive price, but a much higher perceived value and much more innovation and technology. We have also completely re-organized the Quality Department as well as the After Sales Department. We have changed the Distribution Policy and have focused only on the primary channels as well as on the sell-out rather than on the sell-in.

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver ABTW Interviews

We have restructured the entire communication strategy and took back the old slogan from the '90s, “Don’t crack under pressure.” We have developed the “event marketing” concept and have totally revised and changed our ambassador and sponsoring concept. As the claim that TAG Heuer is “Swiss Avant-Garde since 1860” we had to rejuvenate our customer base and focus more on the young generation in order to be “Avant-Garde in 2015," so we have changed nearly 30 top managers around the world and have replaced 28 of them with young managers that were already in our organization.

That’s what I am the most proud of! To see all these young managers reaching a new level of responsibility and being successful in their new mission and new challenge. The success of my people have made me particularly proud! And it's the people that have given TAG Heuer, in such a short period of time, so much success.

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver ABTW Interviews
TAG Heuer's new high-tech manufacture in Chevenez

ABTW: Watch prices are on pretty much everyone's minds these days, which is interesting because one of the major efforts at TAG Heuer (explained here) has been the overall reduction in price points. What are some of the interesting side effects of reducing prices? Are some margins just too bloated, or are there distribution changes which help remove unwanted costs? Or, will consumers be asked to make various types of sacrifices in exchange for lower price points?

Jean-Claude Biver: The biggest side effect of “better” prices and higher perceived value is the increased traffic in the distribution channels and the increase of volume. That was the name of the game: increase perceived value, have more competitive prices, and create higher traffic and more volume. The King is our customer and we would always treat him as such. The Queen is our product, and here, again, all the efforts have to be made in order that she is the most beautiful and desirable. All efforts like design, quality, cost, and retail price have to be achieved by internal restructuring and have never been passed onto the customer or caused any sacrifices in exchange for lower price points.

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver ABTW Interviews
One of the numerous refreshed and very competitively priced TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M models released in 2015

ABTW: More than ever, consumers want "value" in exchange for the money they are being asked to spend on a particular product, and you have a great talent at giving people a reason to want a product. What is your tactic when it comes to conveying a sense of a value - especially across the broad spectrum of product price points that you are regularly involved with?

Jean-Claude Biver: TAG Heuer has built its success on quality and on the perceived value, the "best money can buy." We have given again to the brand its unique perceived value, and I can assure you from my 40 years of experience, that we have certainly now the best real value for price on the market.

The restructuring of our case maker, dial maker, and movement maker has enabled us to give substance and a real value to the product. For instance, I consider it impossible today in the market to find a better value for the price than the Heuer 01 (reviewed here) or Heuer 02 (debuted here).

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver ABTW Interviews

ABTW: In my opinion, your efforts at Hublot have, to a large degree, been greatly misunderstood – especially by the watch community itself. From my perspective, your tactic there has been to make Hublot as culturally relevant as possible, while at the same time offering products that watch lovers themselves really like.

You seem to have approached product development from the perspective that not all watches you make need to appeal to all members of the brand's audience. So taking that tactic to TAG Heuer for a new audience, are there new things you've had to learn, or does this brilliant tactic that worked so well (and probably pleased you with occasional controversy) at Hublot apply to a different demographic at TAG Heuer?

Jean-Claude Biver: We have learned to listen to the new generation. To understand their culture, their fashion, their attitude, and their needs. Which is one of the reasons why we came out with the Carrera Connected (hands-on here) watch.

Never would I have imagined before that I would enter the connected watch market. But learning the behavior and the needs of the new generation has convinced us that the connected TAG Heuer watch was an absolute and urgent must!

State Of The Watch Industry At The Outset Of 2016 According To Jean-Claude Biver ABTW Interviews
Hublot Big Bang Unico Italia Independent in Texalium, a fiberglass fabric that uses a thin coating of aluminum for unique looks

ABTW: More generally, are watch tastes or buying habits changing in ways that you need to adapt to? How do you personally keep up with what consumers are doing?

Jean-Claude Biver: The consumer (or customer) is our King! Which means we have to know him, have to respect and serve him! Knowing the needs and habits of your customer is the first thing you have to do and to understand. Yes, customers are buying more and more on the Internet; yes, young customers are hardly wearing watches anymore, etc... All these elements had to be taken into consideration and have helped us to redesign our collection and come out with the Carrera Connected.

  • G Street

    Let’s raise a glass for the ’28’, age shall not weary them, our new ceramic bezels a fitting monument to their passing….

  • Interesting to hear JCB freely admit the things he got “wrong” (really more a matter of degree or quantities realized) and that he is intently focused on learning from the data points to tune his strategy. His knowing now that 35 year olds (and not just “kids”) are buying the connected TAGs will no doubt influence TAG’s thinking about new models/lines and what they should or should not have. No surprise that he thinks the over $2K market won’t be greatly effected. But mechanical watches being vulnerable up to $2K is interesting as I figured the “sweet spot” for smart watches to mostly be from $200 to $1000. What’s that old Chinese curse? “May you live in interesting times”.

  • Matt

    I personally can’t stand the man. Too busy trying to sell his bloody cheese.

    • JP. Coqueran

      Don’t let your disdain for Hublot cloud your mind as it almost did mind. He is a businessman first and a watch lover second. And like SuperStrapper said, he is very prolific!

    • Actually he does not sell his cheese. You are lucky if you get some though – it’s excellent. I have lots of issues with what comes out of his mouth too often. But his cheese not one of my issues with the man. And while I think he a BS artist (and by artist, I mean very good at it and fun to listen to – just not to be believed all of the time), there is no denying he is successful as a business man and remains a major force within the industry. Cheers.

  • SuperStrapper

    Haters ‘gon hate I guess. I guess it doesn’t matter that Biver is probably the most successful and prolific figure in this industry.

    • Beefalope

      How old are you that you still use phrases like “haters gonna hate?”
      I guess that makes me a “hater,” too — whatever that means.

      • SuperStrapper

        How old are you that you don’t understand the meaning of ‘hater’?

        • Beefalope

          Adult.

          • SuperStrapper

            That’s an age now? So, you are 18? Or older? And still don’t know the meaning of hater? You’re an adult at a grade 3 reading level?

          • Lurch

            Stay classy.

          • Lurch

            SuperStrapper is a sycophantic ass. Best thing you can do is ignore his idiotic posts and don’t have him make a watch strap for you like Mark Carson usually suggests when someone wins a watch.

  • TrevorXM

    One of the best things I ever did was to sell my Tag Heuer Carrera Twin-Time over two years ago. It was a decent enough watch, I guess, but I hated the people who recognized it and commented favourably on it. All of them really annoying phonies and punks and fakes. Honestly, that was what drove me to sell it. I now have a Zenith and a Damasko — both better watches in various ways than a Tag Heuer — and no annoying idiots that I’ve come across have said a word. My dislike for the brand was created by my unwanted interaction with admirers of the brand. Reading this piece and seeing the hideous new watches and hearing Mr Biver’s “philosophy” has really reinforced that.

    • JP. Coqueran

      So you hate popular brands that are identifiable by anyone other than a watch nerd?

      • TrevorXM

        I came to hate Tag Heuer honestly and by personal experience. The people who gravitated towards it enough to comment on it were really unpleasant people I didn’t want anywhere near me. Trash, basically. Even when I sold it on ebay, it attracted a bunch of ebay trolls sending insulting “questions” and ended up with a really unpleasant and difficult buyer.

        I like lots of popular brands like Omega, some of Breitling’s models, Longines is really doing some nice pieces.

        • Wow, how weird that TAG’s success in brand recognition by the public has driven you to sell a product that you otherwise like. But I do understand it – I will probably never own a Rolex for similar reasons even though I know they are fine watches.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I get where your coming from to , but from another angle, I hated the watch, but would never have been rude enough to let you know.

          • Hi Raymond. I assume you mean my Ka La Sport, and that’s fine. Polarizing designs by their nature don’t appeal to everyone – otherwise we would all wear the same watch. And critical feedback is always welcomed, especially when politely given. Happy new year.

  • DanW94

    Excellent interview with some candid responses. He’s clearly focused on the connected/smartwatch segment and seems intent on competing in that market. Like Mark said below, I wonder what we’ll see in that area moving forward from Tag. Also, he was dismissive about crowd-sourcing campaigns. I would think he’d have more to say on a movement intent on courting customers away from the established brands. His perception was that they’re just not a credible long term threat. Well, he knows the business better than me! Again, interesting read.

  • Marius

    I agree that Biver is a good businessman, however, many forget that he was very prolific in a period when you had zero watch blogs, almost zero online information, and very few magazines. During this time, his strategy was to use the cheapest possible movements, surround them with good marketing, and charge exorbitant prices since the customers had almost no access to information. Franck Müller, for instance, did the same.
    Most of the value Biver created was for himself, as I personally know a few Hublot owners who were not exactly thrilled when finding out that their $20,000 watches contained $500 movements.

    • SuperStrapper

      Are you trying to argue that he is no longer prolific? You might want to do some fact checking on that.

      • Re-read what he said: “…in a period when you had zero watch blogs, almost zero online information, and very few magazines”. I don’t see that he is making any statements about no longer being prolific. Happy new year.

        • SuperStrapper

          I read it just fine. ‘was very prolific in a period..” is the past tense, hence my comment. Happy new year.

          • Marius

            I don`t deny the fact that Biver has a profitable business plan. The problem, however, is that as a consumer I am more interested in getting a good watch, with a quality movement and good fit&finish. The profitability aspect doesn`t really interest me. In fact, very profitable brands usually achieve these good financial results in the detriment of the consumer by charging high prices and offering little value, such as Hublot, for instance.

          • SuperStrapper

            And my argument is that they are good watches, with quality movements and finish. Not to mention that Hublot is best in class, by a healthy measure, in materials development. I’ll be the first to agree that the movement is certainly one of the most important components of a watch, but if all you have is a movement, you don’t have a watch. It’s so easy for armchair watch experts to poo-poo this or that watch becuase it contains a movement based on a standard ebauche, as though that is some kind of crime. Your perception of value will be different to that of someone else, and that doesn’t make you right or them wrong.

          • JimBob

            This tense does not logically imply anything about the present or future, but I can see how you would take it that way in context.

    • iamcalledryan

      I personally know a few Hublot owners who couldn’t care less.

      Don’t forget that even the likes of Rolex and Patek bought third party workhorse movements. The watch world is changing, no doubt thanks to blogs and what not, but understanding the provenance and cost of a movement is still just one of DOZENS of criteria that watch consumers consider when buying a watch.

      It is easy for us watch geeks to forget that we are in a minute percentage of people who have the time and passion to dissect and understand everything about the watch.

      • Marius

        I agree with you, many buyers don`t know much about watches, and these are the people the Biver is counting on and depending on. If all buyers were watch nerds, the Biver would be flipping burgers at the Geneva KFC.

        • iamcalledryan

          I think he would have just vertically integrated faster and still made a big success out of the look and material of his watches.

      • Beefalope

        With respect to Hublot, I would agree. I know several Hublot owners, and not a single one of them could possible care less about what’s powering their watches. Hublot owners aren’t WIS; they really don’t give a rip about the same things we do.

    • FrankD51

      Not true in the case of Blancpain…….Biver used very high quality Frederic Piguet movements in his initial line of moonphase and chronographs, and with pretty good finishing at good price points (at the beginning). They were a good value. They didn’t end up that way when he left BP, and Hublot, well that’s a different story. Pure marketing.

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    I raise an eyebrow and a carefully practised look of sleepy-eyed disdain any of you trashing the King of Watchmakers, the great Master Biver! Not since Hans Wilsdorf has there been a greater showman and raconteur of horology. I am hereby forbidding any negative comments on this thread. We shall have only positive commentary here!

    • iamcalledryan

      Add a ban on snarky sarcasm and I’ll cosign.

    • Marius

      My esteemed colleague, Wilsdorf was the past, Biver is the present, and Ralph Lauren with his wooden bezel is the future. Also, regarding the future, I believe that the guys from Bremont also have the ability to distort reality.
      In conclusion, please don`t forget that the customer is our king, and the product our queen. All you need to do now is repeat it 35 times.

      • Dinkee, H. O.

        On my blog it is I who am the king, the readers are the serfs.

    • Paul Miller

      We shall have only REAL Ben Clymer impersonators here, too! 😉

  • BNABOD

    So his proudest moment was to pretty much fire the old managers replace by young ones (also I am sure cheaper ones). So there you go happy new year to the old now unemployed managers basically treated like a number. quite typical of large corporation, you become too old, too expensive and the old hag which is Bovet then fires similarly old managers. that guy is a treat and somehow is made out to be the dude that invented sliced bread. amazing.

    • Dinkee, H. O.

      He should be proud of that moment! Firing long-term employees en mass with panache is the sign of a great business leader. The very day my empire starts to stumble, I’ll fire the whole lot!

      • Start with yourself.

        • Paul Miller

          Uh, I think that’s a spoof account, Mark.

          • Really? I had no idea. But seriously, I think the joke is getting more than a little tired. So I stand by my comment (to the poster, not Ben Clymer).

    • DanW94

      Absolutely sucks I agree, especially if it’s you or someone you know. But he wouldn’t be the first CEO to restructure personnel. Besides we don’t explicitly know they were fired, perhaps they were “reassigned” a position. (Usually, a lesser position to try to get you to voluntarily leave or retire, but a position nonetheless)

      • BNABOD

        I agree this is nothing unusual for a larger corporation and I also agree that if one is not performing they need to go regardless of age and seniority in the company. Having said this to make it your proudest moment is a bit hard to digest. it is never a proud moment to do such a thing and yes they may have been “reassigned” but I surely doubt it. there is written douche bag all over this Biver guy and somehow i cannot get over that.

        • I agree – even if terminations were necessary, to take any pride in doing so is sad. Especially to “market” the action with ageism. Reminds me of mainstream TV shows where all the “experts” and “professionals” are kids – no older, wiser and more experienced folks to be found on screen. They’d have you believe the world is being run only by those under 30. I know that is just pandering to the demographics of the viewing audience in the case of TV. But to hear what amounts to the same thing from JCB is disheartening. Seems like he thinks only kids can market to kids. Guess the late Steve Jobs and Tim Cook must really be under 25 too. Or would JCB have fired them too?

          • Marius

            I agree with you. I am 29 years old and think that for a high-responsability position one should have a solid amount of experince. I mean, just because the new managers are younger doesn`t immediately imply that they are better. In fact, the older managers made Tag a famous brand all over the world. Rolex and Tag are probably the best known watch brands today.

          • JimBob

            My assumption is that the “managers” he refers to are actually marketing people. Fire as many as you like,

          • Yeah, except rather than just letting marketing people go, his is replacing them with others just because the are “young”. If he had said they had fresh ideas and were talented or experienced, etc. then I’d have more respect for the action. But he made it should simply like they were trying to be young and hip. Which is kinda funny since he found out his connected watch customer is 35 (on average).

          • spiceballs

            Perhaps M. Biver when he said young he actually meant those more open to change, and Tag Heuer certainly needed that? Change is what ultimately drives us forward, and some (the “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” believers) can restrict the progress civilization needs. I’m not saying that all change is right but a company needs its people to be open to such.

          • I hope you are right.

          • JimBob

            Excellent, now he can fire these guys too!

          • Paul Miller

            It’s easy to criticize, and there isn’t anyone among us who doesn’t have plenty to be criticized for. Of course one can find fault, if that’s what one wants to do. But who among us can claim the sheer scale of success, the charisma, the energy, the strategic instinct, and the considerable contribution to the fortunes of the Swiss watch industry that Biver can? Come on.

          • I give Jean Claude full credit for his many successes. And I find him entertaining to listen to. But that does not mean he can do no wrong. I just don’t take his often bombastic BS seriously.

          • Boogur T. Wang

            Something also I think is good to think about; in his position he should have persons to watch and report to him on the demographics of his customers.
            Did they report this information to him?
            Did he pay attention and act upon their demo reports?
            He was/is the one responsible for shaping sales & distribution to the product demographics. This did not happen – and he fires a bunch of persons as he realizes he ‘missed the boat’ on this shift in the market.
            Whose responsibility are we talking about?
            His or theirs?

            Something else I think important to keep in mind – The market response is ALWAYS strongest in the early days of a sales trend, then it flattens, then, depending on manufacturer/marketer response to feedback, it either slowly increases or begins to decline. Historical data is good to occasionally review.

          • egznyc

            Don’t you know, we shouldn’t trust anyone over 30? ;-). Oh, wait: then I cannot even trust myself and that’s been true for a long time … In all seriousness it makes me appreciate the USA’s antidiscrimination laws – including those protecting people over 40.

      • SuperStrapper

        Constructive dismissal is a bigger crime than just letting someone go, and as apparently easy as it is to deride Biver, he’s no idiot. I don’t know who lost their job(s) or why, but just because someone has been around for a long time doesn’t mean they still hold value for the team. I’m not de de actions that were taken, but speaking in general and from personal experience, I can attest that people get stuck in their ways, and can hold a business back: even if once upon a time they were critical to the team.

      • somethingnottaken

        The people who got sacked were probably executives, not middle managers. That risk goes with the titles and is part of the reason why executives are paid so much. Additionally, the people may have been transferred to other LVMH brands (like Zenith) catering to the market TAG Heuer is now exiting.

  • Great interview Ariel, enjoyed all the great insights you queried out of JCB. I believe JCB has demonstrated time and again his ability to lead and make tough decisions when needed. Change (such as that at TAG Heuer) is often necessary, but never easy. Best wishes to ABTW in 2016. -Kyle

  • Dartagnan

    I have great respect for Biver. He’s reinvigorated a number of luxury watch brands and is a master of marketing luxury items. People listen when he speaks; the problem is that his rosy 2016 outlook is not shared by many in the inner sanctum of the watchmaking world. Even Patek has lost its shine. Though some new pieces are still highly coveted, the price premium is not what it was. 2016 will be a very difficult year for the watch industry. A significant percentage of owners/managers of the esteemed brands shown on this blog are nervous and in behind-the-cameras discussions, they express real concern.

    • somethingnottaken

      Note that Biver repeatedly mentioned value and attainable prices. Note that he moved Heuer away from from haute horolgie and to a more price and value oriented position. Biver’s repositioning of Heuer seems to be his response to the trends you mention. Brands like Patek who are far beyond any reasonable point of diminishing returns are bound to fare poorly in a market seeking value.

      • Name

        And if the likes of Patek tried to compete in that market (value), they would destroy themselves. High end luxury watches along the lines of the Big 3 are veblen goods. They need to stay out of reach for most people to maintain their exclusive attraction.

        • somethingnottaken

          But the big 3 have the advantage of being recognized by veblen good consumers who know little about watches. The executive who buys a Patek to impress his peers probably considers a Rolex appropriate for middle management and a Tag Heurer appropriate for junior management and non-management professionals. So the market will probably support a handful of high end brands who survive by selling veblen goods.

          However, established entry and mid level luxury brands like Heuer who’ve been pushing upmarket probably need to refocus and return to their roots. The numerous hauge horologie brands which have popped up recently could be in real trouble.

          • Name

            I agree.

  • Andrew VT

    What a sexist old man. His metaphor that the customer is the king and their product is the queen relies on an unhealthy notion that women are something to be owned and possessed by men.

    • I_G

      Go make a sandwich.

      • spiceballs

        – -and/or a cup of tea, perhaps?

    • iamcalledryan

      In a monarchy you have a monarch, it is one of the earliest forms of gender equality. Calling a customer King and a product Queen is to say you have two masters, both of equal power.

      Honestly, the amount of misguided vitriol that comes from the mere mention of Biver is far more embarrassing than his conspicuous marketing and design or his cheese.

      • SuperStrapper

        Hating is easy, and doesn’t require fact or knowledge.

    • Beefalope

      Wow.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      Perhaps you just need a higher chair – His metaphor seems to have gone right over your pc head.

    • Berndt Norten

      Your PhD is in… lit crit? Po mo, bro? As René Levesque would say, ‘take a valium.’

      • Andrew VT

        No, just the MA. I am Canadian though and have also studied history enough to get the Levesque reference.

        • Berndt Norten

          It’s all good. Welcome to ABTW

  • FrankD51

    One underestimates Biver’s success at their own peril, he undeniably resurrected Blancpain and Hublot and made gobs of money for the companies and himself. But look at these two brands now and they are shadows of their former selves. No one thinks BP is cool anymore (and hasn’t been for YEARS) and Hublot is really a bad joke now. Look, Biver is like a Carl Icahn or other investor, they are in it to make money, and when the balloon is fully inflated they bail and take the money before the balloon goes kablooey. Biver will do the same with Tag Heuer. Same song, different verse.

    • Beefalope

      Hublot has always been a bad joke. It’s just making more money now being a bad joke.

    • spiceballs

      mmmm — I think BC is cool, but. yes, Hublot – not

  • I_G

    Where’s the cheese?

    • Berndt Norten

      Clara Peller ate it !!!

  • Beefalope

    He’s great at marketing.
    That’s about all I have to say on this matter.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Just had fun reading the comments before I headed out . Happy new year everyone.

  • commentator bob

    I really like the Biver interviews. This guy is ahead of the entire industry. The man behind the Hublot con. He had the nerve to jump into smart watches on the deep end and has already pushed 100,000 units. And he is getting the insight that these are not toys for kids, with the 35 median age he is seeing. I am seeing high 6/7 figure professionals with Apple watches.

    Still, I wish that he would be covered with more scrutiny. For example:

    “Already, some of the new TAG Heuer timepieces (such as the Carrera Heuer 01) offer a rare high-level of value for the money (in a major brand) with a complicated case and dial along with an in-house movement for around $5,000.”

    Seriously? A manfacture (barely, this movement still is based on the movement Tag bought from Seiko) chronograph with date for $5K is a “rare high-level of value”? Only if you’ve never heard of Hamilton, Longines, Tissot, Certina or Seiko.

    The MSRP on a VERY nice column wheel Seiko is half that:

    http://seikousa.com/collections/ananta/SDGZ003

    And a Hamilton, Tissot or Certina automatic date chronograph can easily be had for under $1,000 grey.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Good, somewhat, interview. Mr. Biver is certainly the “SHAMWOW!” figure in the watch industry.
    First and foremost a polarizing figure – for better or for worse. He’s gotten his ‘face time’ with celebs and done his promotional thing to the nth degree. Good for him.
    I dare say that he has “matured” with the industry and will be an interesting footnote in its’ history books.
    Telling admission to have missed the industry importance of the ‘smart watch.’ (And after the quartz earthquake.) No feedback on item demographics? Or just ignored? Oh well, such is life, eh?
    He is walking a delicate balance and seems to know it. The industry (WIS?) blogs have been to the consumer benefit and have certainly had an effect on product.
    High-end will always be High-end. Fads, fashion and bling will not change/lessen the quality level demanded by the knowledgeable consumer. And adding “Mo Bling, Mo Bling Baby!” is not going to do much for that area, IMO. (Available in a discreet pawn shop)
    I am chortling at his dismissal of the effects the ‘crowd-funded’ sites has had on the industry. These sites show a ready market and growing client-knowledge base for more price accessible watches. Easy to dismiss when you “just can’t be arsed” to think about that rat chewing on your cuff? Good points though about quality and long-term repair of parts. Always a consideration.
    I would like to envision shops setting up , perhaps in Switzerland, to provide for these efforts.

    One word noticeably absent for the chat with Mr. Biver….China.

    • DanW94

      Well said….

    • commentator bob

      He didn’t say that he missed the importance of the smartwarch, just that he didn’t anticipate the volume he would move.

      Tag moves about 750,000 to 1,000,000 watches a year. Using 1,000,000 to keep it the numbers easy he anticipated that the Carrera Connected would give him a 25,000 unit/2.5 percent boost for 2015, but it actually gave him a 100,000 unit/10 percent boost.

      That’s not missing a trend, it’s profiting even more than expected off of one.

      As much as I appreciate the stuff that the crowd funded sites are putting out, along with small going concerns like Chris Ward, Steinhardt and Squale, those firms are not woth Biver worrying about with Tag’s sales volume.

      His real competitors are Swatch Group and Apple. And they better be keeping him up at night because they are both offering better products for less money. Swatch should be staying up at night that is does not have a serious smart watch. Secondary but non-trivial competitors are Fossil group, Samsung, LG and Motorola.

      • egznyc

        CW, Steinhardt, and Squale, all great micro-brands, but is that the way they intend to remain? (I’m just thankful there are such brands that exist in the world. It adds to the vibrancy/diversity of what’s on offer and also keeps prices competitive. Or at least not highway robbery.

    • egznyc

      Well, also Japan, unless I missed that.

  • Philip Bunting

    Cmon readers, you aren’t obligated to gush over JCB just because Ben Clymer gave him a handy under the table of “Talking Watches”. Enough Biver fever.

    • Ariel Adams

      Despite any perceptions to the contrary, our relationship (at least my own) with Jean-Claude Biver is one of mutual trust and respect. When I was starting out I was continually supported by Jean-Claude Biver’s attention, feedback, and time – being someone who themselves was controversial and not accepted by all. He’s never been false about who he claims to be and he never suggests that he is the watch personality for everyone, or that he is responsible for matching watch for everyone. He himself is a collector of both the watches he helps create and the watches that may be produced by others that he respects (and he is never shy about this fact). He is part of the industry like everyone else, and does not purport to “be” the industry. I don’t need to agree with each and every decision someone makes to overall approve of their ways, and I find it easier to mass the positives of their work versus point out isolated negatives that in many instances we too easily use to define people.

      For an interview like this I could have gone to a lot of people and asked the same questions. The reason I didn’t is that most of them simply don’t have the interesting and provocative ideas and comments that Mr. Biver does. We don’t gain by highlighting just one or a few voices in the industry. With that said there are very few actual public voices coming from people who are on the industry side. Jean-Claude is a positive communicative rarity and he is also a successful business person in the industry. Any one who embodies those qualities deserves a voice on aBlogtoWatch, so I really hope the watch industry encourages more people to follow his lead so we can have more interesting and intelligent people like him on the site to help shine a light on what the often very secretive watch industry is up to.

      • Boogur T. Wang

        Mr. Adams, you have a unique position in the watch industry. We, the readers and those interested in the ‘nuts & bolts’ of the trade are grateful for the insight and contacts you share with us.
        Along your way you have made many contacts – both “large” and “small” who have opened doors and given insight that many, if not most, of us will never achieve.
        For this, we are all privileged to be a part of this experience you share.

        P.S. – In case anyone is wondering, I am most certainly not an a**-kisser or anyone’s toady. I call a shovel a spade when appropriate. Just sharing a bit and appreciating a good thing when it comes my (and our) way.

    • iamcalledryan

      Great first comment, and you rhymed too. If your knowledge of Biver extends to the interview on Hodinkee a few months ago then it’s as shallow is your commentary.

  • Jackyl

    Nice article. Got the carrera 1887 racing edition and heuer01. Luv them both and enjoy them. Waiting for more evolution from Mr. JCB. More power TagHeuer!

  • Paul Miller

    Well done, Adam — this is great content.

    • SuperStrapper

      Hilarious!

  • JC

    Ariel… nice work on this. A lot of marketing fluff in his answers (as expected), but there are a couple of nuggets in there, too. Would love to see more top down industry/brand pieces – like this… with some *pointed* questions. Wishing you a prosperous 2016…

  • Thanks Ariel,, an interesting and timely article.

  • somethingnottaken

    I think there’s an important point being missed, not only may we be buying through unmeasured channels (i.e. the grey market) we may be buying from different brands. Perhaps buying from Japanese brands instead of Swiss. Perhaps buying from new brands that offer lower prices – entry level luxury brands (like TAG Heuer) would be particularly vulnerable to this.

    Yes there is risk in buying from new micro brands and crowd funded projects; however, risk isn’t always a deterant and can even make the product more appealing. Consider it a form of gambling, one where you usually get a good deal, sometimes get a great deal, and occassionally lose your money getting junk or even nothing at all.

    And then there’s is the appeal of getting something rare and unusual at an attainable price point. Haute horology brands offer exclusivity, but only a tiny minority of buyers can afford their prices. Meanwhile, watches from large entry and mid level luxury brands (TAG Heuer, Rolex, etc.) are commonplace and have a negative stigma because they are the first choices of status seeking buyers who know little or nothing about watches.

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