National Jeweler Network

Brand Profiles

Apple recruits TAG Heuer executive

By Brecken Branstrator

July 08, 2014

New York--TAG Heuer Vice President of Sales Patrick Pruniaux has left the company to join Apple, LVMH’s head of watch brands Jean-Claude Biver told CNBC in an interview last week.

Though the company declined National Jeweler’s request for confirmation or additional information, Biver said in the interview that Pruniaux was recruited by Apple to launch the iWatch, which is rumored for release this fall. He did not say what his new job would be.

When asked how he felt about the move, Biver said, “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.”

Pruniaux has been with TAG Heuer for seven years and, prior to that, also held other various positions at the watch brand’s parent company, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Apple also did not respond to a request for confirmation or comment by press time.

The news of the appointment hints at the possibility that Apple will position the iWatch as a luxury item.

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The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant has attempted to recruit a number of top employees from other watch companies, particularly Swiss watch companies, without much success so far, analysts told CNBC.

Yet they have snagged a few people from the luxury sector in recent months, including bringing on Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as its new head of retail and online sales in May, and hiring Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve to head up special projects last year.

Apple’s attempts to hire Swiss watch experts are part of the company’s efforts to market its product as “Swiss made,” Mario Ortelli, senior luxury goods analyst at Bernstein, told CNBC, noting that Swiss watchmakers don’t want to cooperate with Apple and risk “dilution.”