Stéphane Linder Profile & Interview

Stéphane Linder Profile & Interview

Last Updated on June 22, 2019 by Calibre 11

When you do a V4, or you win the “L’aiguille d’Or” at the Geneva Grand Prix, you get such great coverage and it’s great for your reputation of innovation, capability and knowledge- it builds credibility and legitimacy. And that’s why in a certain way we put the vintage types a little to one side. And of course, when we did Carrera and Monaco in the past, we did only one series and in small quantities. When we expanded the lines and made them volume TAG Heuer models, these “vintage” watches became current products- no longer vintage.

So now we do more tactical re-editions, so we do like the Carrera Jack Heuer 1887 or the Carrera 80th Birthday edition, because our energy has been concentrated on innovation.

But now, we should maybe think about it, because we know that a lot of people love these re-editions- I do- and they give us the combination of tradition and Avant Garde.

DC: When I look at design, I see a change from 2011. The new Link (2011), Formula 1 series (2012) and Aquaracer 500m (2012) models are more “classical”…but also more conservative than the models they replaced..

Full Black ComparisonSL: Ah, you have a good eye! This is true and I feel myself that there is a little more of a conservative or classic design…and we have to find the right balance between modernity and classical. It’s a very subtle balance to find, but it’s true that the scale maybe we went more towards classic and less towards modern, so I totally agree.

This has been a choice to raise the perception of the models, because if you go more classic you help build on tradition. I don’t say that this is either good or bad, just that we need to be careful that we keep our DNA, which is always a little modernity and it’s a fine balance- just a few small details that makes a huge difference- so yes…you are the first to tell me that!

DC: If I look at the difference between the new Aquaracer 500m- all the details that made it different- date at 9 o’clock, rubber bezel- almost all elements that made it unique were removed for the new model…and while I prefer the new model, it’s less distinctive.

SL: I think we have to find the balance. The new one is beautiful, but maybe we should have kept one or two points of differentiation, because it makes it more TAG. This is exactly what we are working on now- more prestigious, but keep a little “edginess”. It’s only fine-tuning- a couple of details.

DC: Can you give us a sense of your vision- what can we expect from TAG Heuer with you in charge?

SL: So for sure we will continue with the innovation strategy- it’s so much part of the DNA, so we have been working very hard on the innovation road-map. We will continue making very strong statements with models- unique innovation.

Secondly, with our haute horlogerie movements with Guy, we have invested a lot in our own manufacture to make significant volume of chronographs like the 1887 and we are working on the Calibre 1969, the new Chronograph platform…

DC: Is that the production name for the Calibre 1888?

Manufacture d'Avant-Garde TAG heuer - 3D_SUD_OUEST

SL: Yes, it’s been changed…

DC:What can you tell me about that one, is that still a 3-register layout?

SL: Yes, 3-6-9 layout (tri- compax), 70 hours power reserve and thinner than a normal Chronograph.

We have a unique capability due to our innovation on new movements- we are very quick in terms of time to market , especially with this new 1969. So, we have unique things and I think that we are very strong  and so we have a great opportunity to make products that are not $50,000- $100,000, or $5,000-$8,000, we need to do something in the $8,000-$10,000 bracket- bringing some unique things from what we know in haute horlogerie, to make some real volume models with these special movements.

Don’t get me wrong, we are not going to take the Monaco V4 and make it for $8,000-$10,000, but we have some real technology that we could bring to  a more affordable price point- small complications and innovations. So, we take some of these ingredients and add the to the volume- things which will make affordable, incredible innovations is one of the directions that I believe we can do.

DC: I agree- I always thought that the gap was too big- there was no stepping stones between the Calibre 36 and the haute horlogerie watches…

SL: So, this is one direction- then we to develop our current series. I think there is a real opportunity with the Monaco that is still untapped, because there are a lot of possibilities to make the Monaco even cooler, so I strongly believe in it.

Monaco 36-WMAnd there there are a lot of things to do with watches. Yes, everyone dreams about Chronographs, but even so, we have a lot of watches, but what could be an incredible watch [i.e. a 3-hand watch- no Chronograph function : DC] for TAG Heuer?

DC: With an in-house watch movement?

SL: Yes, with the movement and the design. Most of the success in watch-making in the last 20 years has been with Chronographs- with Chronographs it’s easy to innovate- what do you do? Add more complications, make it bigger, bolder- it’s easier to differentiate.

For me, the challenge is even greater to say, OK how can you make a clean, elegant, timeless, simple, clean watch? How can you make this incredibly TAG Heuer?

It has to do with movement- movement and case have to be closely integrated together- reveal the movement through the case on the back or through the front- it has to be beautiful. We have to make a movement that has a unique design and beautiful things- it’s a huge opportunity, but it’s very difficult.

So you have these small complications that you put in the Carrera and Monaco to bridge the gap to the haute horlogerie watches and then you have a new watch movement- these two things are huge for me.

DC: Stéphane, sounds like some cool things coming- looking forward to it. Thanks for talking with Calibre 11.

So, how does that sound? More development of the Monaco, a new Calibre 1969 movement to look forward to, high-end watches that sit above the current range and the potential for an in-house watch movement- a first for Heuer/ TAG Heuer…and maybe we will see more re-editions.

It’s an exciting future for TAG Heuer, and while the Linder- era may only be 10 days old, we can’t wait to follow how these ideas turn into reality.