After a short delay the Swiss watchmaking industry is responding to the beginning of the smart watch era. Luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer announced at the recent Baselworld trade fair that it had formed an alliance with Intel and Google to produce its first computer watch. TAG Heuer has designed and will make the watch, which will run on a version of Google's Android Wear operating system. Intel will supply the microchips. TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver said it was the most important announcement in his forty years in the business. Apple is due to launch its smart watch on April 24. By deciding to bring out versions of the watch in gold and stainless steel cases Apple is making a deliberate statement about the watch's design. Traditional watchmaking houses have been forced to sit up and take notice. Even as recently as last year Biver said he was not expecting Apple to make a significant impression on the trade. Last year was also the year that Apple hired one of Biver's marketing managers. Google's Android Wear operating system is already used to run several different smartwatches such as those made by Motorola, LG and Huawei. Intel is interested in developing its presence in the area of the Internet of Things and bought the smart watch company Basis to get a foothold.
Last year about 6.8 million smartwatches were sold around the world. So far Samsung has dominated the market with a share of 23 per cent. Motorola sells about 10 per cent of smartwatches with Sony, Pebble, LG and Garmin making up the rest. According to German consumer market research company GfK, the world market for smartwatches could grow by 600 per cent. Several days ahead of the Baselworld trade fair, watchmaker Swatch presented its answer to the Apple Watch to the world. The Swatch Touch Zero One cannot be used as a telephone but it does have plenty of health tracking functions. Swatch also plans to bring out versions of the watch that can make wireless payments and even open electrically operated doors.