Apple lures executive from luxury Swiss watch maker to beef up its iWatch team

Gigaom

In what appears to be a move to expand its mobile team ahead of the much-rumored launch of the iWatch, Apple has hired the sales director of Swiss watch-maker TAG Heuer, a subsidiary of LVMH, according to a report from CNBC. A senior executive in the company’s watch unit told the news outlet that the sales director left last week to join Apple, and that the consumer electronics company plans to label its new smartwatch device as “Swiss made” in order to appeal to luxury buyers.

Jean-Claude Biver, the president of LVMH’s watch division — which includes the TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith brands — said the TAG Heuer sales director left last week, “to take a contract with Apple” in order to launch the iWatch. There have been widespread reports that Apple was looking to hire Swiss watchmakers to give its device the edge over similar smartwatch products that have either been launched or are expected from Samsung, Google and other device makers.

According to a number of recent reports, the iWatch (if that’s what it is actually called when it hits the market) is expected to have a rectangular touchscreen made of curved glass, made by LG, and will have wireless charging capabilities, including possibly a solar charging feature. Research firm IHS estimates that the market for wearable technology — including fitness tracking and related features — is expected to triple between 2013 and 2018, to $30 billion.

In a research note for clients released earlier this year, Morgan Stanley estimated that Apple could generate up to $17.5 billion in sales in its first year from the iWatch, outpacing even the iPod. The firm expects that the smartwatch will sell for about $299 and will be seen as a must-have accessory by many existing Apple customers.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Todd Hamilton

Image copyright Todd Hamilton.

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