The Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 could preview the styling of the company's first smart watch.

The Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 could preview the styling of the company’s first smart watch.

This story is a summary of articles that first appeared on www.watch-next.com

Is this how it will look? The Carrera Heuer 01 model launched at the Baselworld watch fair in Switzerland could be the basis for the Tag Heuer smart watch.

Only a dead fish swims with the current. 

Jean-Claude Biver, Tag Heuer

The official opening day of the giant Basel watch fair, the world’s largest, was dominated by brands that have never figured in the watch landscape before, namely Google, Intel and – looming large in the shadows – Apple.

Tag Heuer boss Jean-Claude Biver holds the new Carrera Heuer watch Baselworld.

Tag Heuer boss Jean-Claude Biver holds the new Carrera Heuer watch Baselworld. Photo: Reuters

This was thanks largely to stalwart Tag Heuer, whose head, Jean-Claude Biver, announced a partnership with Google and Intel to produce a “connected” watch based on the android platform, a move clearly designed to counter the impact of the Apple watch, which arrives in a few weeks.

While Tag Heuer is not alone in embracing the brave new world of smart watches, it’s seen by pundits as the player most likely to succeed given it’s brand strength and the calibre of its Silicon Valley partners.

Biver described the partnership as “necessary but exciting – we don’t have the requisite skills in-house, but these geniuses will bring them to the partnership.”

The aim was to produce a watch that’s both “functional and fashionable”, and while brands including Bulgari, Gucci, Fossil, Frederique Constant and Breitling also used the Basel fair to outline moves to embrace connectivity in a variety of ways, Biver’s ambitious plan, hatched with Tag’s general manager Guy Semon, an inventor and engineer himself, is the one that gives weighty legitimacy to the smart watch concept.

Up till now brands have focused on defending their traditional territory, decrying the so-called smart watch as a mere wrist-borne device, one saddled with questions regarding obsolescence and battery life, not to mention the need to be twinned with a phone.

Biver’s colourful explanation for taking a more radical course? “Only a dead fish swims with the current.”

While details of how a Tag Heuer smart watch might operate are scant at this stage, in an exclusive face-to-face after the announcement, Biver and Semon told Fairfax’s watch-next.com website that they planned a modular device that looked like an existing watch, mentioning the new Carrera Heuer 01 as a possible platform.

It would carry internals (Intel inside?) that could be upgraded or swapped out for later versions or even replaced by a mechanical module if the owner wished to revert to a traditional timepiece.

From smart watches to Snoopy

Talking of talking points,Omega’s big news might have been the super-refined Globemaster, a watch with a movement the brand is rightly proud of, but as usual it was that mechanical chestnut, the Speedmaster, that delivered yet again.

That was thanks not only to a cornucopia of ceramic models including a snow-white Speedy, but also a limited edition Apollo 13 Snoopy model.

Proving a serious watch can also be fun, it comes in a more standard 42mm  steel case with a ceramic bezel, but with a white dial, manual-wind movement and, most importantly, a rendition of Snoopy, the Peanuts character and NASA mascot, on the dial.

Limited to 1970 pieces, it marks a silver Snoopy award given to Omega that year for its contribution to the Apollo space program, where back-up timing from a Speedmaster proved crucial to mid-course correction.

It’s a reminder of the emotional appeal traditional brands are hoping will never attach to a smart watch.

Bani McSpedden, the editor of watch-next.com, is in Switzerland for the Baselworld 2015 watch fair.