Google took aim at the luxury-smartwatch market Thursday with some fancy wrist candy designed by Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer and powered by an Intel processor.
In a product announcement at the Baselworld trade show in Switzerland, the three companies said they are teaming up to “create a product that is both luxurious and seamlessly connected to its wearer’s daily life.”
“Silicon Valley meets Switzerland. What a great moment!” said Jean-Claude Biver, president of the watch division LVMH and CEO of Tag Heuer.
Beside him were two shirt-sleeved emissaries from Silicon Valley, Michael Bell of Intel and David Singleton of Google.
“We believe wearable technology is going to take off, but this is not something that can be driven by tech companies only,” Bell said.
Google’s Singleton, director of engineering for Android Wear, said the team will “bring a unique blend of emotion and innovation to the luxury market.”
The announcement means that the Swiss watchmaking industry — known for its bejeweled mechanical chronographs that keep exacting time — is jumping onto the wave in wearable tech, a branch of the evolving “Internet of Things.” And it means that Google will be going head to head with Apple, whose own smartwatch goes on sale next month.
The watch will be designed and made by luxury brand Tag Heuer and run on an Intel chip using Google’s Android Wear platform. It will be released later in the year.
The move is a coup for Intel, which has been making a push into the Internet of Things since Brian Krzanich became CEO in 2013.
The Tag Heuer watch is part of “all the little stuff that’s going to add up to them being successful” in the Internet of Things, said tech analyst Jack Gold.
Swiss watchmakers have been eyeing the development of the smartwatch for some time, said Gartner technology analyst Mark Hung.
“Even though the Apple Watch will go up to $17,000, I don’t think they feel all that threatened by it,” he said. “But they do feel that somewhere in the middle, the $500 to $2,000 range, there could be some erosion.”
The luxury-market watchmakers had only two choices, Hung said — work with Google or develop their own proprietary products. “It makes sense to partner with Google.”