Apple Hires Swiss Watch Maker Exec for iWatch Launch [u]

The sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer — part of LVMH family, which also owns Hublot and Zenith — has taken a position with Apple, assisting with the launch of iWatch, the head of LVMH, Jean Claude Biver, tells CNBC.

IWatch concept

Apple said that it was exploring Swiss talent for its iWatch team, but, as we previously reported, had limited success.

Though keeping the former employee’s name anonymous, Biver says they were happy for him, because working on iWatch will be a great opportunity.

“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,” he said.

Apple’s appointment could represent a successful step toward using the prestigious “Swiss made” label, which is synonymous with the highest quality.

As Mario Ortelli, senior luxury goods analyst at Bernstein observes, however, that, for Swiss watch manufacturers, working with Apple would mean a “dilution” in the value of the ‘Swiss’ name. This can be related to the iPhone manufacturing process: it is designed in California and assembled in China. This isn’t something Swiss watchmakers are after.

Speaking to Reuters, Tag Heuer suspects Patrick Pruniaux was head-hunted:

“I think he was probably head-hunted,” a Tag Heuer spokeswoman said of Pruniaux, adding a replacement had already been found.