TAG Heuer President and CEO Stephane Linder has resigned his post after 21 years with the brand and as an interim measure, Jean Claude Biver, CEO of Watches for the LVMH Group, will take over his duties with immediate effect.
The reason behind Linder’s departure has not been specified by LVMH or TAG Heuer, but the seeds could have been sewn at Baselworld 2014 in March. This saw the introduction of Carrera CH80, a brand new high-end in-house movement, with a technically advanced engine. The idea was to position the brand to become more exclusive and up market with a pricing strategy of between EUR 6,000 to 8,000. At the same time, the introduction of a new high tech plant based in Chevenez for production of the Calibre 80 was announced.
Three months later in June we reported on the fact that TAG Heuer had suddenly decided to keep its CH80 chronograph movement under wraps for the foreseeable future and focus purely on the CH1887, which was launched in 2010. TAG Heuer described this move as responding more effectively to current needs. This effectively meant that the proposed launch of the Carrera CH80 chronograph would be put on ice, even though the company had completed the development of the movement.
More recently still, Jean-Claude Biver announced a new strategy for the Group’s three main brands: Zenith, Hublot and TAG Heuer. So that the three brands would not impinge on or cannibalize each other’s markets he proposed that TAG Heuer will focus on entry level (luxury) watches, with prices from EUR 1,500 to 4,500. At a stroke this cancelled the Calibre CH80 at a proposed price of EUR 6,000. Now the Chevenez plant is to be used for the production of the caliber 1887.
The changes resulted in the loss of some 46 employees with a further 49 others temporarily unemployed. In future the brand will focus purely on watches, and all activities related to their luxury smart-phones and leather goods will cease. While we may never know the full story, it is possible that the curtailment of Linder’s high end ambitions for TAG Heuer placed him in an untenable position.
In a brief and somewhat terse statement released yesterday LVMH announced:
Stephane Linder has decided today to resign from his role of President & CEO of TAG Heuer to pursue other professional endeavors. Jean-Claude Biver thanks Stephane for his outstanding contribution to the development of the brand during the 21 years he spent at TAG Heuer and will act as a CEO during this transition period.
We will follow up with more information if and when the story develops.