Apple hires exec from Swiss watch firm Tag Heuer as iWatch rumors swirl

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) hired a senior sales executive from Swiss luxury watch maker Tag Heuer ahead of the expected launch this fall of Apple's first wearable device, widely dubbed the iWatch.

Tag Heuer, which is part of luxury goods group LVMH, said on Friday its vice president for sales, Patrick Pruniaux, who had been with the company for seven years, would be leaving to join Apple, according to Reuters. Tag Heuer did not say what his new job would be and Apple declined to comment, according to Reuters.

In recent months, Apple has poached several executives from luxury brands. Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, is now Apple's head of retail and online sales, and Laurent Paul Deneve, the former head of French fashion brand Yves Saint, was hired in 2013 to work on special projects.

The hires could indicate that Apple is trying to position its iWatch as a luxury device. "I don't believe that an iWatch will be a threat to luxury Swiss watches," Jon Cox, analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich, told Reuters. "But where I do see some potential impact is at lower, for example below $1,000, price points where there could be a temporary dislocation if there is super high demand for iWatches."

Reports have indicated that the watch will be mostly used for health and fitness tracking, so it's unclear if or how that sensibility would mesh with any luxury trappings.

According to separate reports in June from the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, Apple will begin producing its smart watch within the next few months and will begin selling the gadget in September or October. According to the reports, the watch will come in several different sizes, including one with a 2.5-inch screen, and it will feature a touchscreen, up to 10 sensors to track body activities like heart rate, and will be built mainly by Taiwan's Quanta Computer.

Instead of positioning the watch as a companion to a smartphone, Apple appears to be developing a health and fitness product that would record biometric data, thereby providing users with a detailed look at their overall health. When Apple announced its new iOS 8 operating system in June, it announced a Health app that would collect and organize such data--but the company didn't provide details on exactly how that data would be collected.

For more:
- see this CNBC article
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article

Related Articles:
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Apple iWatch details leak: multiple screen sizes, touchscreen, 10 sensors, built by Quanta
Report: Apple's iWatch expected in Q4 with a focus on health monitoring
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