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As Apple Watch Pressure Builds, TAG Heuer Announces Smartwatch Plans

Remember back in March, when Swiss watchmakers were said to be dismissive and unwilling to work with Apple on its rumored Apple Watch project? Some are apparently already regretting that attitude as we inch closer to the device’s launch. Today LVMH watch head Jean-Claude Biver announced that he’d “changed his mind,” reports Reuters, and he’s partnering with unspecified tech companies as he attempts to make a smartwatch of the company’s own.

Specifically, the watch is being developed for TAG Heuer, the largest brand under LVMH’s domain, as Biver announced during a press conference today at TAG Heuer’s headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

“We started on the project about four months ago. We have done several partnerships and might also do acquisitions,” Biver said.

Visitors to the conference didn’t get to see a prototype or concept art, but they did learn that TAG Heuer’s device will be powered by an Intel processor and will feature both mechanical and digital parts. Reporters asked if Google or Intel were directly involved with the project, but Biver declined to comment. Currently, Biver projects TAG’s own device will be properly announced sometime in late 2015.

That’s quite the switch from late September, when Biver said the Apple Watch “has no sex appeal. It’s too feminine and looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market.” Since Biver claims the project has been in the works for about four months, it seems he gave the go-ahead to the product not long after seeing Apple’s own take on the smartwatch.

“We want to launch a smartwatch at TAG Heuer, but it must not copy the Apple Watch,” Biver said just a week after the Apple Watch’s announcement. “We cannot afford to just follow in somebody else’s footsteps.”

Somewhere out there, Apple design chief Jony Ive is probably smiling to himself. Back in September, before the Apple Watch was officially announced, Ive reportedly said that Switzerland was in trouble, although according to the New York Times, “he reportedly used a much more colorful word than ‘trouble’ to express his sentiments about the renowned watchmaking nation.”

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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