TAG Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault Shares His Vision For The Brand

Lara Mansour   |   06-02-2023

Since taking over as CEO of TAG Heuer in 2020, Frédéric Arnault has been on a mission to drive innovation at the brand, while continuing to respect and honour the heritage of the watchmaker.


It requires a delicate balance and has therefore received both praise and questioning from the wider watch community as the brand entered the connected watch division a few years ago. But the results are only positive. After a successful few years, Arnault is only looking forward as the brand continues to roll out both mechanical and connected watches across the globe. As the brand reveals its first launches of 2023, we find out more of what to expect for the coming year.


Let’s start by talking about the Carrera 60th anniversary which you are celebrating this year – what is the demand for the Carrera today that made you decide to celebrate the anniversary with a big moment? 

We have recently launched several limited editions of the Carrera and they have all been very successful and have seen a trend in the demand for these kinds of aesthetics. The previous designs were very close to the original, so it was attractive to collectors, enthusiasts, and those who are more passionate about these types of aesthetics on a Carrera. This year we have decided to modernise it by adding a TAG Heuer as we still had the Heuer logo on it, we worked on the design and construction, trying to stay faithful to the original idea but with more modernity. We will be revealing this new design at Watches & Wonders later this year. Right now, to finish the story of the previous case, we wanted to use one of the most searched-for design aesthetics on the dial and that’s what we are revealing today.


The connected watch became an integral part of TAG Heuer in a very short period – around 15% of sales – how do you see the connected watch category in the future in terms of sales and how important is the new model?

Yes, we are in the range of fifteen per cent of sales on connected watches and we believe it’s a good penetration on the brand. We’re investing heavily in this sector and are seeing good results, but the traditional watch category is seeing very strong growth as well. We want it to be important, but at the same time, we don’t want it to take up too much space, because at the end of the day, we are a watchmaker and that will always be our number one priority in development, in communication and at our boutiques and we want to ensure we remain seen as a watchmaker first. We invest a lot in the technology and the design of the connected watches, we are creating very strong products, we have the new women’s watch which we believe has its own space, and it’s something that will bring new customers to the brand that we can then also transition to our mechanical watches.


Frédéric Arnault (© Gian Marco Castelberg)


How do you future-proof a connected watch?

There are differences of course from a mechanical watch. When one buys a mechanical watch, one would expect it to last for decades, it’s not the case for a connected watch, however, we invest in durability and we want to make sure that we are more durable than the rest of the industry when it comes to this. We offer battery change for our customers, as this is the first component that stops functioning, this gives extra life to the product. We expect our customers to be able to wear our connected watches for five to seven years and our cycles of development are not as aggressive as some of our competitors who are launching every year. We make sure that the watch is not becoming obsolete too fast and that we can install some durability because we are a luxury brand and it’s perceived as a luxury product. We also have a trade-in programme where we buy back the previous watch and recycle it and the customer will get preferential access to the new generation watch. With a connected watch, our number one objective is to keep the customer engaged. On a daily basis, we track how many people are using it, and which functions they’re using, and we want to make sure this number grows and that people don’t just buy the connected watch, but it actually brings them value day-to-day, and if it does, they will eventually want to buy the new generation.


TAG Heuer is today a brand that has the technology and dynamism, but at the same time, has the legacy and the heritage – how challenging is it to find the fine balance between maintaining and respecting your heritage and creating something that’s relevant for today?

One could think that the heritage limits us, but I think it gives us a lot of strength. To be able to say that we have been doing many of these things for many years is a huge source of inspiration and gives us even more strength in the launches we have. Our vision for the brand is to take inspiration of course from the heritage, but always try to modernise what we’re doing as much as possible. I think that’s the point we have reached with the new Monza. The cushion shape was there, and there are some elements from the historical design – the pushers, the hands – but this watch looks unmistakeably modern, with the open-dial, the case. We didn’t want to produce a re-edition, we wanted to give the feeling of a true, modern timepiece and most of the customers won’t even know we had a historic Monza, but we will be able to tell the story. It looks modern, but when we can say we have been doing it for this many years and the design comes from there, it gives it much more strength.


What are the main challenges you face today as a watchmaker? 

One of the huge challenges we had in 2021 and 2022 was the supply chain limitations due to COVID-19, but we saw it as an opportunity to build desirability around the brand. The fact that we had a shortage of some pieces meant that the demand became much higher, and it created a healthy tension and now we continue to build on that desirability. In terms of markets, right now the big question everyone has is ‘how will China bounce back?’ And nobody knows the answer to this, but what we learnt during COVID-19 was how to be agile and to react fast to changes in tourism, clientele, and the world, and so I’m confident that our teams will be able to react fast to the changes surrounding this market in particular.


TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph


Tell us about the role that the TAG Heuer Research Institute plays in the brand’s strive for innovation.

We launched the TAG Heuer Research Institute around five or six years ago and we have strong capabilities and amazing teams. We have a few projects happening that I can’t talk about yet, but we have the ambition to come up with ground-breaking innovation. One of the projects we have worked on is the Carbon Composite Hairspring and today we have this in some of our tourbillion pieces. It’s doing very well, and we are in the process of industrialising it. It’s such a new material, the research is still in the very early stages, and we have fundamental researchers continuing to work on this topic to ensure we have our own hairspring with increased precision. We are also working on the innovation of materials, and you will see some new novelties next year around this. The Institute is also very involved in the Plasma project that we’re working on, and you can expect more on that, and lastly, movements of course are key. We are working on revolutionising some key elements of the movements.


Can you update us on the Plasma project, what is the status of that right now?

We launched one watch last year under this project; the Tag Heuer Carrera Plasma and it was hugely successful with strong demand all around the world and we will be releasing new designs regularly with this kind of technology. We are constantly looking for something new and innovative.


What is a message that you would send to your fans and consumers in the Middle East?

Stay tuned for what’s to come, we have amazing launches, and this is just the beginning of the year, so you can expect very exciting products and news from the brand in the months and years to come.


The Novelties:


TAG Heuer Monza Flyback Chronometer


TAG Heuer Monza Flyback Chronometer


This year the TAG Heuer Monza is being reintroduced in a striking carbon edition. This special edition of a TAG icon now comes with a 42mm can and is made of ultra-lightweight and resistant carbon. It features a black dial with a two-register layout with a translucent fumé blue sapphire crystal chronograph counter at 3 and the permanent second at 6 o’clock. The unique skeletonized dial reveals the movement underneath and echoes the piece’s mechanical roots. At 9 o’clock, the date window is in blue luminescent, a first for TAG Heuer, and the blue lacquered indexes and black and white lacquered hours and minutes hands are applied with Super-LumiNova® for optimal legibility in low light. Delivering high precision and high-performance timekeeping the TAG Heuer Monza Flyback Chronometer is powered by the in-house Calibre Heuer 02 Flyback, a chronograph movement with COSC certification.



TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph


TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph


The new TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph is a watch designed for endless adventures and exploration. Powered by a solar movement this new timepiece joins the Aquaracer collection, known for its exceptional quality, resistance and performance. The new model’s strengths lie in its lightness and durability – and hence make it the ultimate companion for the outdoors. The watch is designed in titanium, with a bold metallic look intensified by the light of the sun which illuminates the Super-Luminova® elements of the watch. The unique partly translucent dial allows the movement to recharge itself with the light’s rays. This means there is no need to recharge the watch’s battery and just two minutes of sun exposure is enough to power the watch for an entire day. Once fully charged, after less than 20 hours in the sun, the watch can run for up to six months with no light exposure. Thanks to the black indexes, hour and minute hand, and the polar blue lacquered central hands, all covered with Super-Luminova®, the wearers can not only see their watch in pitch dark but can also carry on with the activities of their choice at night.



TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary Edition


TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary Edition


This year TAG Heuer celebrates its most iconic watch, the Carrera with a collectable version of the original. Six decades from the birth of the watch a new 600-piece, limited-edition model celebrates the collector’s favourite. The classic, elegant watch features a legible ‘panda’ dial and is a reinterpretation of the Carrera 2447 SN. The watch will be limited to 600 pieces and is the first reveal in a year of celebrations of the icon. The monochrome colourway includes black stripes down the central hands and hour markers, the double stops at 12, and of course the black counters with high-contrast white markings. The watch features a vintage Heuer logo with the Carrera above it on a silver sunray-brushed dial. The 60-minute and 12-hour counters are reversed, as well as the subtraction of the T from the dial which designated radioactive tritium on the original watch. This has been replaced with contemporary Super-LumiNova on the new model. Surrounding the dial is a 39mm polished steel case, topped by a raised profile ‘glass box’ in sapphire crystal, which, along with the vintage pushers and slimline tension ring around the dial’s outer edge, gives the watch much of its retro look. The case back is engraved with the watch’s individual number, XXX/600, and a note of its 100-metre water resistance. The finishing touch is a perforated black calfskin leather racing strap with a pin buckle.


TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph X Porsche Orange Racing

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph X Porsche Orange Racing


TAG Heuer has once again teamed up with car manufacturer Porsche to create a sporty timepiece with a bold orange accent and a nod to the racing world. The Carrera Chronograph X Porsche Orange Racing celebrates the racing heritage of both brands and represents the high performance and thrill of speed. It is powered by an in-house Calibre Heuer 02 which allows for allow for exceptional chronometric performance and offers an impressive power reserve of 80 hours. The design of the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph x Porsche Orange Racing keeps with the unmistakable Porsche aesthetic but also, most importantly, the racing universe that surrounds it. The vibrant orange colour can be found throughout the watch, inspired by the colour of the heat sparks made by the car on the asphalt. The case has been given the highest-quality black treatment possible – diamond-like carbon (DLC), with its extremely deep, elegant colour and unfailing resistance. The black dial finishing is inspired by kinetics and speed.



TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 Sport Edition 45mm


TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 42 mm Golf Edition


TAG Heuer explores new athletic territories with its latest TAG Heuer Connected Sport Edition. Thanks to its new functions and redesigned strap, the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 Sport Edition 45 mm can monitor any sporting activity with an even wider range of data. With the release of a software update planned for mid-February, TAG Heuer has taken the opportunity to launch a new “Trail & Hiking” application for runners and hikers who love the mountains and going higher and further than anyone else. The use of a rubber strap enhances the wearer’s experience in action the bracelet also features two colour patterns with a fine mesh, an innovation that allows the skin to breathe better.



All-Black Titanium TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4


All-Black Titanium TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4


TAG Heuer is introducing a sized-down version of its black titanium TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 once again reaffirming the brand’s place as a leader in the connected watch realm. Joining the core collection this smaller 42mm version comes in all-black with a sleek stylish appeal. The matte Grade 2 titanium case offers wearers an ultra-lightweight and highly resistant companion. The watch features a chronograph-inspired design including a black steel rotating crown and matching pushers used for interface navigation, refined watchmaking finishes, and a high-end digital experience with a wide range of watch faces and personalisation options.



TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 42mm Golf Edition

TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 42mm Golf Edition


Featuring new algorithms, the new 42-mm version of this golfing companion will bring unprecedented benefits to golfers for an exceptional playing experience. This is the lightest sports-connected watch ever made by the brand and is set to revolutionize the performance of golf enthusiasts of all levels.