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Selected Case

published: 21 Apr 2017

Abstract:
The Swiss company TAG Heuer, maker of luxury watches, is part of the LVMH group (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton). In 2015, CEO Jean-Claude Biver is deciding whether to launch its first-ever fully connected Swiss watch, manufactured in partnership with Google and Intel. Entering this new market presents an unprecedented challenge: making a watch based on a technology (microprocessors) that the Swiss have not mastered. Is TAG Heuer ready to compete in the digital space - and potentially without the traditional 'Swiss Made' label? Case B takes up the story following the successful launch of the TAG Heuer connected watch. Sales are beyond all expectations for the luxury Swiss watchmaker and its partners Intel and Google. There are a few surprises too – the consumers are older than they expected and the watches sell out far quicker than anticipated – hence the company runs into some supply chain issues.
Please visit the dedicated case website to access supplementary material.

Pedagogical Objectives:
To learn how a nation achieves international success in a specific industry and how multinational corporations enable the emergence of clusters and benefit from them. In particular, how the Swiss luxury watch industry (in particular TAG Heuer) reacted and dealt with the challenge from connected watches such as the Apple Watch. Four key issues are addressed: 1. The importance of the 'Swiss Made' label for this market. 2. How to make a connected watch 'eternal' in the spirit of traditional mechanical watches. 3. How TAG Heuer prepared for a profound digital transformation by learning from the technology cluster in Silicon Valley (locating a team of engineers there and managing the partnership with Google and Intel). 4. How a company dealt with digital disruption in a conservative industry – Swiss watchmaking. 5. How multinationals identify technology in other clusters – “technology scouting” - and set up relevant processes.

Keywords:
Watches, Luxury, Wearables, Connected Watches, Digital Transformation, Google, Intel, Clusters, Jean-Claude Biver, Global Strategy, Digital Disruption, Apple Watch, Swissmade, Silicon Valley, Switzerland

Prizes won:
- Outstanding Case Writer: Hot Topic 'Disruptive Change', The Case Centre Competitions 2018

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