Home Default Blog
“Sports is a part of our history. It’s our DNA”
Interview with Frédéric Arnault, Chief Executive Officer of TAG Heuer
A graduate of France’s École Polytechnique in2014, Frédéric Arnault started his professional career at Facebook before moving on to the consulting firm McKinsey. He joined TAG Heuer at the beginning of 2017 to manage its smart watch activities. In October 2018, he was appointed Chief Strategy and Digital Officer and led the company’s ambitious transformation and digitalization efforts in close collaboration with Stéphane Bianchi, CEO of the LVMH Watchmaking Division and TAG Heuer from November 2018 to June 2020. In July 2020, Frédéric Arnault was appointed as CEO of TAG Heuer. As head of the Maison, his ambition is to accelerate the development of TAG Heuer, a pioneer of the watchmaking industry since 1860, by fueling innovation and maximising the value of the brand’s iconic collections.
On his tour of the Gulf region, TAG Heuer CEO, Frédéric Arnault, took time to officially reveal the new flagship boutique in the new location at Dubai Mall. To celebrate this event in style, the luxury Maison held a memorable event facing the Burj Khalifa during the presence of the Oracle Red Bull Racing team. To make this moment even more remarkable, TAG Heuer embraced the disruptive spirit of its Maison and the energy of the city of Dubai by lighting up the majestic Burj Khalifa with a jaw dropping brand iconography.
Frédéric Arnault spared time to talk to Arabian Watches & Jewellery magazine about the brand’s expansion plans and future directions.
At the age of 27 you took over the position of chief executive officer of TAG Heuer. Why TAG Heuer as a company/brand and not any other brand within the LVMH group?
I do have a few reasons. TAG Heuer was my first watch, it’s a brand I have always been close to. I love the product and world of sports as well. It is also a project that symbolizes the energy of my own self. TAG Heuer is the key to innovation that can be achieved in the brand. When I first saw the watch I told myself this is something to be developed further and I joined the brand through this business unit. Then I fell in even more love with the watches, and I have the will to invest time and energy for the brand. I’m the CEO for one and half year but I’m with the brand for almost three years before I became the CEO.
You have recently revealed an extended collection of the Aquaracer professional 200 and the 2022 Autavia celebrating its 60th anniversary. Both collections have a strong brand DNA. What would be the next big expansion plan for the TH brand?
We started the process of redesigning and clarifying our main collections. Carrera being number one, that’s where we started with the chronograph, the movement, the elegant and sporty designs and also the three-hand in which we are the masters. Aquaracer was a very important, a professional diving and outdoor sports watch – significant in our history. We believe these two collections have very strong potential and you will continue to see novelties year on year in these collections. We still have to enter the process of redesigning Formula 1. It’s a little confidential today and it will be revealed in course of time. It is loved by collectors, it’s unique in design and history, and we are also working on an amazing project for Monaco.
The TAG Heuer recent launches; the TH Formula 1 X Red Bull racing collection and the Carrera Porsche limited edition. How is this strong speed racing association working for the brand?
It is very important. It’s part of our history, part of our DNA and in the world of sports racing is the number one for us. We had in the past got away a bit far from it and now we want to reinvest strongly and we believe the young generation has greater passion about the sport. Last year was the year of Formula 1 and we are part of the history and continuing to enrich our link with the sport of racing. Racing is very important to us, it’s not just an aspect but one of the key aspects of the brand.
TAG Heuer is keeping up with its strategy to develop and promote its associated watches by adding special sports features (Golf) and some limited editions releases (Nintendo). Is this inconsistent with your young, target audience or is it a long-term strategy in keeping with the market size and market growth?
The associated watch is strategic for us, the market is booming and it’s continuing in the upward direction. Competition is intense but there is room for us, there are many different brands and we believe we have a unique positioning. We are offering a proper watch as a smart watch with the same design code and details as we have in mechanical watches. When customers want to buy a watch that is different, they come to us. We are talking about people’s passion like golf, we have the best watch for the golf course and also a watch that can adorn a golfer best outside the golf course. We’re going to talk to communities that are passionate like this, and you can expect more novelties. We have just introduced the Caliber E4 with the smaller size and with women in mind.
What is important for TAG Heuer; prices to continue on the up or maintain an increase in your sales volume?
I believe we can do both, we can increase the prices and the volume as well. It’s true that Swiss exports below three thousand are decreasing, however our price segment for TAG Heuer is increasing steadily and we’re getting our market share. Sure, enough we are leaders in this segment and I think the advantage invariably goes to the leaders. So we are taking even greater share of the upper segment and aim to go with high-end watchmaking.
Design, technology, brand equity, image, price, or brand association. What would attract and intrigue the TAG Heuer buyers?
There are many different aspects that can influence buyers. It can be the attractive design or the creativity that we maintain in our communication. I believe we have the strongest communication in the whole industry. We have invested a lot in storytelling, in visuals, in videos and we have a skilled creative team on social media, in print media and the website. We have good traffic on the website and it’s a great discovery. These are amazing touch points.
Watch & Wonders is around the corner. What shall we expect from TAG Heuer?
You can always expect wonders from TAG Heuer.
The full interview will be published in AWJ magazine April-May 2022 issue. Stay tuned.