In a move that appears to reinforce rumors that Apple’s hotly anticipated iWatch will be marketed as a luxury item, Jean-Claude Biver, the CEO of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer revealed to CNBC that Cupertino has hired one of his sales directors to help with the launch of its new iWatch.
Patrick Pruniaux left as recently as last week “to take a contract with Apple” in order to launch the iWatch, Biver told CNBC, adding he was happy for the employee as the new job represents a great opportunity for him.
“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 said.
Apple (AAPL), which is rumored to be releasing the iOS8-operated iWatch later this year, has approached Swiss watch makers in the past without much success, according to Mario Ortelli, an analyst at Bernstein, who told CNBC that Apple’s plans to hire Swiss watch experts are an attempt to market its product as “Swiss made”.
“For sure they are trying to approach the Swiss manufacturers, but the Swiss have got no great interest in working with Apple – if you are a luxury producer and you cooperate with Apple, you have got a dilution,” Ortelli said, while noting that Swiss watchmakers do not want to create a device like the iPhone.
“The iPhone is designed in California and assembled in China – so they don’t want to dilute the value of the Swiss name,” he said.
Previous rumors have suggested that the Apple iWatch will come with voice controls and “multiple screen sizes” that will contain more than ten sensors including ones to track health and fitness.
According to 9to5mac’s Mark Gurman, “Pruniaux is not just any “Sales Director:” he was the [VP] of Sales and Retail, a major loss for Tag Heuer and a significant hire for Apple in the run up the launch of the Apple smart watch in October.”