Hublot to Start Selling Watches With Smart Functions in Strap

  • Applications could include exclusive soccer information
  • Swiss watchmaker, owned by LVMH, may release it next year

Swiss watchmaker Hublot is working on a connected strap as owner LVMH steps up efforts to fend off competition from the likes of Fitbit Inc. and Apple Inc.

Hublot is looking at including functions that relate to a wearer’s location as well links to exclusive information about soccer in the watchband, Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Guadalupe said Thursday in an interview in Paris. It won’t add technology inside watch cases as the timepieces would lose their “soul,” he said.

Ricardo Guadalupe during an interview in Paris on June 9.

Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

“Smart devices are really part of our world now,” Guadalupe said on the sidelines of a promotional soccer event on the eve of the 2016 European soccer tournament. “I think we will be ready for next year.”

Hublot follows sister brand TAG Heuer marrying Swiss craftsmanship with connected technology as Apple challenges watchmakers for a place on clients’ wrists. TAG Heuer started selling its own $1,500 smartwatch in November, and one month later said it aimed to boost production to 2,000 pieces a week from a previous 1,200. Swiss watch exports last year posted their first annual decline since 2009, weighed down by slumping demand in Asia and the arrival of the Apple Watch.

Montblanc, owned by Richemont, already sells a smart watchband called the e-Strap.

Hublot is still growing this year “but it’s a bit tougher,” Guadalupe said, adding he will cut production if sales deteriorate. “We believe in a difficult market that we should do better than our competitors.”

Asked which country he fancies winning the soccer tournament, the Swiss-born executive of Spanish descent went for France, the host nation and home of LVMH, whose full name is LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. A win would be good for France’s image, which has been tarnished by the November terror attacks in Paris.

“It’s a strong market, but it’s a touristic market,” said Guadalupe. “If France could win, it would be great because there are some issues in this country.”

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