Apple preparing for iWatch launch with another high profile hire

Nassos Stylianou
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Apple appears to be gearing up for the impending launch of its iWatch with another high profile hire, poaching a senior executive from Swiss luxury watch brand Tag Heuer.

Tag Heuer, part of luxury goods group LVMH, announced that vice president for sales Patrick Pruniaux will be leaving the company on Monday 7 July to join Apple.

The Swiss watch maker that is known for its Formula One themed watches did not say what Pruniaux's new job title would be. However with mounting speculation that the technology giant will be releasing a smartwatch device this autumn, the former Tag Heuer man is expected to play a major part in Apple's foray into the much-hyped wearables market.

The iPhone maker has turned heads recently by recruiting executives from the luxury sector, hiring former Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts as head of retail and online in May, following on from last year's appointment of former head of French fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent Paul Deneve to work on special projects.

Tag Heuer watches: will Apple attempt to take on the luxury sector? (Source: Getty)

Industry analysts are eagerly awaiting to see where the Cupertino-based company positions the smartwatch, which Apple followers have dubbed the iWatch, on the market and whether it attempts to take on luxury brands.

"I don’t believe that an iWatch will be a threat to luxury Swiss watches," Jon Cox, analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich, told Reuters.

"But where I do see some potential impact is at lower, for example below $1,000, price points where there could be a temporary dislocation if there is super high demand for iWatches."

Search titan Google stole the march on Apple in the anticipated battle of the new generation timepieces last month when it placed watches with touchscreens made by Samsung and LG running off Google's Android Wear software on its online shop. This is the same software as is being used to power Google Glass, the firm's smart eyewear that launched in the UK last week.

The devices from Samsung and LG are linked to apps loaded on an Android smartphone and controlled by voice commands, taps and switches.

When is the iWatch coming and what can it do?

The much mooted launch is expected some time in autumn this year and could come as early as October, an industry source reported last month. Apple recently applied for a trademark for the "iWatch" in Japan, fuelling further rumours that the iPhone maker was accelerating its efforts to make the computer wearable device part of its eagerly anticipated new product line coming later this year.

Apple, which has 423 stores in 15 countries, last month introduced the HealthKit, a platform for combining the various data from health and fitness apps that is seen as the centrepiece of its smartwatch.

The iWatch is expected to include multiple health and fitness sensors and access to features such as messages and notifications through integration with the existing Apple products such as iPhones and iPads.

While wearables have perhaps not caused the boom technology companies had hoped for yet, market research firm IDC expects that worldwide shipments of wearable computing devices, including smartwatches, will triple this year over 2013.

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