Apple poaches Swiss watch exec ahead of rumored iWatch launch in October

(an iWatch concept design)

An iWatch concept design by Gábor Balogh. Not the real thing.

While Google and Samsung’s smart watches seem designed with function over form in mind, it looks like Apple’s iWatch will be more of a luxury fashion item. A key executive from TAG Heuer, a Swiss watch maker, has been hired by Apple to help market its upcoming wearable.

Along with this latest hire, Apple has been slowly building a team of fashion industry experts who will be instrumental in making the iWatch a commercial success.

At TAG Heuer, Pruniaux (photo credit: Watch Russia)

Pruniaux has worked at a number of other luxury brands, including Moet Hennessy. (photo: Watch Russia)

CNBC reported yesterday that a sales director for TAG Heuer recently joined Apple. His name is Patrick Pruniaux, TAG Heuer’s former “Vice President of Sales and Retail.”

Several months ago, The Financial Times reported that Apple was trying to poach Swiss watchmakers with little to no success. A luxury goods analyst told CNBC that most people in the Swiss watch industry don’t want to join tech companies like Apple that design products in America and have them built in Asia—the reason being that “they don’t want to dilute the value of the Swiss name.”

Last year, Apple hired Paul Deneve, the former head of the high-end French fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent. Deneve was brought on to work on “special projects” and report to Tim Cook. It’s believed that Deneve is also involved in the iWatch’s development and marketing strategy.

The most high-profile exec Apple has hired from the fashion industry is of course former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, who now leads Apple’s retail division. She has a long, successful career in the fashion industry.

Although pricing and specific spec details are still unknown, the iWatch is expected to be unveiled at an Apple event in October. The latest reports have said it will feature a 2.5-inch display and health tracking features. Apple could sell multiple sizes at different price points, especially if the product is marketed as a fashion item.

  • George Pepper

    I’m interested to see what iWatch is actually like. Mostly because this is the first completely new niche Apple has entered since the death of Jobs, and I wonder if the mojo can be continued: MP3 players were common before I bought the original iPod, but I didn’t have one, stubbornly clinging to my DAT Walkman. Well, I ordered the iPod the first day and haven’t used the DAT Walkman for anything other than archiving since.

    Likewise, there were Blackberries and smart phones before the iPhone, but I was still using a Motorola Star-Tac flip phone: Bought the original iPhone the first day too (And paid dearly for it!).

    Must admit that I don’t have any kind of tablet yet, but that’s just because I don’t have use for one. If I were doing road trips like I used to, I’d have one for navigation, but my iPhone was OK for my last trip (Mostly because it was familiar territory), but an iPad Mini is on my list for the next adventure.

    I’ve been buying Apple gadgets since the Newton 110, so I’m pretty psyched about the iWatch. Everybody is rushing their smart watches to market to beat Apple, so I hope the iWatch just blows them all out of the water. I’m still using my collection of Citizen watches: Navihawk, ProMaster Dive, and EcoDrive Moon Phase. Let’s see Apple get me to give those up (Gotta have moon phase!).

  • aardman

    “While Google and Samsung’s smart watches seem designed with function over form in mind, it looks like Apple’s iWatch will be more of a luxury fashion item.”

    This should be no surprise. Only Apple, among all the tech companies, has the prestige and brand cachét to rub elbows with the big name fashion houses. It is easy to imagine the Diors and Chanels of the world allowing their brand names to be associated with Apple’s. Not that easy to imagine Google, Samsung and Microsoft in that company. For once Apple can go some place where none of the usual gaggle of shameless wannabes and pretenders can follow and imitate.

    • Guest

      Yeah because how you look using the device is far more important than functionality right? Shameless wannabes? Wow you are a isheep if I ever saw one.

      Dude your joking right? Fingerprint scanners gold phones, all of the features in ios 7 and ios 8 were all copies of old features and existing tech. I Suppose you think apple invented touch screens too? Open up your eyes ios is both behind in the US and in every single market world wide. Your statements are nothing but hypocritical.

      And from the iphone 6 leaks it looks like Apple is following samsung’s larger displays and HTC’s One M7/M8 Design, which the M7 and M8 were both better designed devices than the iphone 5 or 5s.

      and before you call me an android fanboy I have used and owned the iphone 5 and 5s both for several months and my wife has owned a ipad mini which only are kids use now since she got her note 3.

      I don’t hate apple I think they make good products, but its ignorant and prideful statements like yours that turn people off from Apple. Learn to be objective and mature otherwise you just sound like a immature teenager who thinks he is somehow better than anyone else based on what products he buys.

      Grow up.

      • aardman

        Aww, don’t take it personally. Why you would take an observation about the nature of the luxury goods business to be a personal attack directed at you is quite mystifying. You are quite utilitarian in the way you evaluate your device needs. Good for you. But the luxury goods market exists because a lot of people aren’t utilitarian like you. Don’t take it against them, or more importantly, don’t take their point of view as a personal affront.

        You also made a lot of assumptions about me. Contrary to your prejudiced generalizations, I bought a smart phone for the first time only six months ago. Yes it’s an iPhone but I never felt that any smart phone was worth getting until the 5s and based on my use pattern, this phone will probably last me at least five years. I also drive a 12 year old car even though I could easily afford getting a new one. So I’m sorry that my unsheeplike behavior is so different from your prejudiced assumptions.

        Now given how you started ranting and raving over conclusions you jumped into based on a prejudiced misreading of a post that doesn’t even mention the things you ranted and raved about, I think you’re the immature person who needs to grow up.

  • Hildebrand

    I have a natural preference for round objects. The concept above is beautiful, just like the Mac Pro, the new Apple HQ and the Moto 360 watch.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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