Case in point: CNBNC has a story up by Jenny Cosgrave reporting that Apple has hired an unnamed sales director from Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer as it gets ready to roll out the wearable gizmo which Cosgrave, and most everybody else, is calling the iWatch.
(Update: 9toMac’s Mark Gurman reports that the TAG salesguy in question is Patrick Pruniaux, VP of sales and marketing.)
Fine. Interesting scoop. But here’s the part where I get confused:
Apple’s plans to hire Swiss watch experts are an attempt to market its product as “Swiss made”, which senior luxury goods analyst at Bernstein, Mario Ortelli, said is a label that is synonymous with quality when it comes to watches.
Um, hiring a sales director from a Swiss company doesn’t mean your watch is Swiss made. Actually, hiring an infinite number of employees of Swiss watch companies wouldn’t let you make that claim. Unless those employees stay in Switzerland and, you know, make your device. I can’t imagine why anyone would believe otherwise.
Now, the notion that Apple might hire someone–or multiple someones–involved in the selling of Swiss watches doesn’t seem the least bit wacky. After all, it hired the CEO of a retailer most famous for selling expensive trenchcoats to run the Apple Store. Almost all Apple products have an air of luxury to them; knowing how to market fancy timepieces might be a better background than being an expert at promoting laptops, mobile phones, and other electronic gadgets.
Still, thinking about the iWatch and Swiss watches at the same time does raise some interesting questions. Nearly everyone who’s whipped up concept art of Apple’s wearable has produced something which looks like a tiny iPhone which can be strapped to the wrist. What if the iWatch, like Withings’ upcoming Activité, skipped the conventional screen altogether in favor of something classier and more power-efficient?
All along, I’ve tried to puzzle out how Apple will deal with the issue of battery life: I can’t see the company releasing something which, like an Android Wear watch, needs to be recharged every night. Yet it also seems unlikely that it would go the route of a Pebble and use a long-lasting screen which is drab and monochrome.
The Activité solves that conundrum with an analog watch display which runs for a year on a single watch battery. Maybe Apple will do something similarly unexpected. Or maybe it’ll go the route of Jawbone’s Up and release a device which is essentially a screenless piece of jewelry stuffed with sensors.
If Apple were to think of the iWatch as jewelry, it might try to make a more upscale piece of techno-jewelry than anyone else has managed to date. It might even be crafted like…a Swiss watch. But if allusions to Swiss craftsmanship come up when Apple unveils its gadget–supposedly in October–it won’t have anything to do with the salespeople it’s hiring right now.
That much I’m pretty confident I’m not confused about.