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In conversation with Nick Biebuyck Heritage Director at TAG Heuer, at Watches & Wonders 2024

Chaniya James 4 Minutes

Join us as we sit down with Nick Biebuyck Heritage Director at TAG Heuer at Watches & Wonders 2024

Can you please introduce yourself and share a brief overview of your journey at TAG Heuer ?

I'm Nicolas Biebuyck the Heritage Director at TAG Heuer, I've been working for the company for three years now before that I was in Hong Kong for seven years, working for international auction houses including Christie's and launching a watch publication managing a private collection. As you English originally, so quite unusual to be in the watchmaking industry in a position like a heritage director and supporting the brand with product creation, looking after the patrimony for the masion, and really helping to move things forward.

How would you describe Tag Heuer to those who are unfamiliar with the brand?

So introducing TAG Heuer for the first time to people. It's always a great topic for me because I think there's many different ways you can look at the brand. Of course, we've got this incredible connection to innovation. From the founding of the museum, we've had these amazing connections to patented technologies and really making watches that are robust and reliable.

Today, of course, we continue that with the TAG Heuer Institute, the use of lab grown diamonds in luxury watchmaking, and amazing watches like Monaco retro Ponte today, but I think the other big topics are who we are as a brand. So we talked about motorsport. We talk about motor racing, and we have this great connection to Hollywood through the likes of Ryan Gosling and Patrick Dempsey and Alexandra Dario, and I think the big thing is, is we're culturally relevant you know, particularly in the UK, many people know us as your introduction to fine Swiss watchmaking, but we also have this amazing breadth of collection all the way up to the very high end. So a great brand to explore, and so much to understand about TAG Heuer.

Can you talk to us about the new launches at Watches & Wonders?

So for our new watches, watches and wonders 2024 We have two additions to our existing Carrera lineup. We have a great new panda dial in the 39-millimetre glassbox case for the first time we're offering a bracelet with this new collection. So great addition for most people in the panda Of course it harks back to the original Carrera reference 7753SN from 1968. The other big highlight is the skipper, we launched it last year in stainless steel. Now we're presenting the piece in rose gold, so an amazing elevation of the Skipper. So very exciting.

But really the highlight for us this year and probably one of the most important watches in our company history now is the Monaco so this is the complete reimagining of what the Monaco can stand for we reflected on the origins of the collection going all the way back to 1969. Looking at what made the icon so special from the very beginning. This amazing case form these kind of Angular edges this mixture of finishes, but this time we've completely updated it so we've improved the ergonomics we've done amazing stuff like introduce this huge sapphire case back that's on the back of the watch. We've also use sapphire for the top crystal but it follows the original lines of the first Monaco's as well sapphire bezel sapphire dial but the really the talking point is the movement inside, it's a brand new manufacturer calibre TH81 produced in partnership with a highly regarded and very talented team at VO Shea in Florae. They're really well known for their haute horology chronograph calibres, they work with some of the best brands in the industry. But what we've done is we've completely redesigned it for ourselves. So more than 360 components around 30 grammes for the fully completed movement and this amazing hand finishing so our unique hand scratched finish gives this impression of like a chequered flag being waved nearly two weeks of hand finishing total for all the other techniques that were using hand painting to the rotor. An absolutely amazing piece of fine watchmaking and really a project that we started with focusing of just making no compromises really, we just wanted to work with the very best and create something that could really show the future for the brand.

Can you share your favourite memory at the brand so far

So in my three years at TAG Heuer there's been so many memorable moments. Of course, the big launches the likes of Watches & Wonders are always great. But one of my great passions is motor racing and historic motor racing as well. Of course, thanks to our partnerships with Oracle Red Bull Racing and Porsche, attending f1 doing driving courses with Porsche around the world. We've done stuff in Finland for ice racing. Monaco f1 is always a highlight of my annual calendar as well. And another thing I really love is the Targa Florio rally that takes place in Sicily every October. We're a partner of the race like we are with Carrera Pan America . So many great experiences, it’s really hard to pick one.

With such great history what key elements or values from the brands past do you believe still resonate with today’s watchmaking industry?

It's a great topic for us to discuss to understand how we're balancing the kind of past and the future of the brand. I think people will follow the company for a little while now over the past 25 years, we've had many different strategies: very high end, entry level, heritage driven and Avant Garde. Today, what we're trying to do is really balance all of this together. And what's just like the Carrera glass box, and the Monaco split seconds, they really encapsulate this perfectly, you know, we've taken these amazing design codes and our identity from these iconic collections.

Monaco is 55 years old this year, Carrera is more than sixty years old. But what we've done is we've used all of our expertise in what we call savoir faire in Switzerland, our kind of craftsmanship and expertise across our different manufacturing sites that we all own ourselves, together with the likes of the TAG Heuer institute and the amazing team there to really update them with amazing modern technologies use materials that we haven't used before and really create something that people can fall in love with from the design but know its super reliable, dependable and something that they can wear for their lifetime and hand down to their children. These are really things that we believe in strongly.

Can you share what inspires the TAG Heuer as a brand and its pieces?

So when we're talking about the way that we think at TAG Heuer, our founding philosophies, we often talk internally about this Avant Garde mindset. And what we mean by this is always be forward looking, but at the same time really be respectful to our heritage as a brand as well. We want to be making truly contemporary watches, but we want to take these amazing codes and this DNA that we've got from an incredible 164 years of history and bring it into the future. So that's really the principle that we're working with today.

Tag Heuer we want to be a culturally relevant brand, I think it's easy for a watch manufacturer to be perceived as being old fashioned and only appealing to an older demographic, but what we've really tried to achieve with the likes of the Formula One collection and some of the new Carrera models is to be really relevant for everyone across all age ranges, no matter where you're from. We feel like we're a very eager egalitarian brand that you can really go in, see our watches in boutiques enjoy them, know that you can buy them and depend upon them for years to come. So we want to be open and inclusive and help people understand Swiss watchmaking and particularly who TAG Heuer is a brand today.

How do you envision the future for the brand?

For the future for TAG, we can look at the Monaco retro ponte that we're launching at the fair this year, the watch itself is of course, very important. We're really proud , It's a project that's very close to my heart it was more than two years in development. But what's far more important is these new directions and these new ideas that we're laying down, that we're going to install into the collections for the future and that's around the aesthetic identity of the piece and our return to true haute horology with fine finishing with the best suppliers and craftsmen in the world and to carry this into the future. This watch, it's 40 pieces per year I think it's 130,000 pounds in the UK 235,000 Swiss francs. We know that it's not a watch, that's going to be widely seen, but it's really a halo product. For us it's a new positioning for the brand and of course, long term. We want to take a lot of these ideas and introduce them to other collections in different price points for the future. So it's really laying down a new foundation and a new direction, leveraging everything that Frederic Arno put in place and Julianne is now the custodian of. So for me personally, taking off my TAG Heuer hat and just thinking of myself as a watch collection, someone who's passionate about the brand I'm so excited for the future of the Maison and we've got so many exciting things to come in the years ahead.

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