Making luxury affordable for smartphone lovers

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Making luxury affordable for smartphone lovers

TAG Heuer has launched a breakthrough Swiss communication instrument for luxury smartphone lovers in Dubai by introducing an innovative product inspired by GT sportscars and luxury jets.

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Sun 23 Sep 2012, 9:22 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 4:01 PM

The luxury brand entered into a new segment in next generation telephony with the launch of aerodynamic TAG Heuer Racer. The new initiative will help the company to expand the client base for luxury market.

The innovative smartphone, which steeped in motor-racing lore and constructed from the most advanced materials in aeronautics, is offered to those who want luxury as well as performance at the affordable price.

Unlike the previous two smartphones — TAG Heuer Meridiist and Link — the Racer is being marketed from Dh11,600 onwards. It is powered with a mastering speed processor of one GHZ, 16 million of colours screen resolution, a large 3.5” display, a high-definition five-mega pixel auto-focus camera and a 640x480 pixel VGA video front camera, 11 hours of music play time, and, through its avant-garde Android operating system, download access to over 400,000 applications.

“TAG Heuer Racer is the world’s first Swiss luxury touchscreen smartphone that is launched to attract more customers towards high-end products as we make the luxury affordable,” Serge Simon, general manager of Atelier HC — the company that manufactures the TAG Heuer Racer smartphone, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of launch event in Dubai.

Atelier Haute Communication, formerly known as ModeLabs Manufacture SAS, has successfully developed, industrialised and commercialised several prestigious collections for TAG Heuer, Christian Dior and Versace mobile phone ranges since 2008.

“Dubai is the launching pad of Racer in Middle East and now we plan to market this product in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon and other countries of the region,” Simon said. He said the product has already been launched in UK, France, Russia, China, Hong Kong, India and Turkey.

The Swiss brand, known for its luxury watches, eyewear, fashion mobile phones and lifestyle accessories, announced the launch of Racer earlier this March. Following that the company has now made the devices available at selective 350 fashion boutiques and lifestyle stores across the world. In the UAE, the innovative communication device will be available at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons outlets in Dubai and TAG Heuer boutiques in the UAE.

“The Racer is a marvel of leading-edge design and handcrafted workmanship,” he said, adding that the smarphone is built from lightweight components and shockproof construction material.

“It’s composite materials — titanium grade 2, light and strong carbon fibre, black PVD, 316L stainless steel, rubber — were first used in professional motor-sports and aeronautics. The sporty yet timelessly elegant look comes from high-end GT cars, while its aggressive and energetic lines are direct expressions of TAG Heuer’s unique DNA,” he explained.

The Swiss smartphone-manufacturing firm has engaged in investment over several projects in order to develop unequalled expertise in all the phases of value chain. It integrates conception, design expertise and technological know-how to ensure qualitative and selective distribution over three continents in department stores, fashion boutiques and watch and fashion jewellery stores.

Swiss-engineered, French-built and powered by Android, the world’s most intelligent operating system, the Racer has a new lightning-fast and completely customized 3D interface. It will compete with Nokia’s Vertu, Armani and Christian Dior handsets in the upper luxury category.

Luxury market expansion

Simon, who also served other luxury brands such as Dior and Versace, said the luxury market will continue to see a steady growth in foreseeable future despite the slowdown in global economies and debt crisis in Europe.

“The luxury market may experience a slowdown due to crisis in Europe and US, but I still expect a strong double-digit growth amid considering the demand for luxury products in key markets in Asia,” he said.

To a question about the luxury phone market, he said: “Globally, the share of luxury phones is estimated at 0.005 per cent and it is expected to reach 0.5 per cent of the total market during next five years.”

“Luxury market is picking up and we see a good time ahead. We are creating a new range in luxury category to attract more customers in emerging markets and other developing countries.”

Referring to slow growth in the category, he said the manufacturing of luxury smartphone is not an easy task amid considering fast developments on technological front and various technical issues in combining the luxury and next generation telephony.

“The manufacturing of luxury smartphone usually takes up to two years and that is the reason we plan only one model in a year,” he said.

He said the despite being a niche category, the luxury mobile phone business will overtake the watch industry. “Mobile phone is the hottest accessory and we see it growing in coming years,” he said.

In reply to a question, he said TAG Heuer may consider launching a smartphone that can be used by both male and female.

“We don’t have any immediate plan to introduce women only product, but some products are in the pipeline that may be launched for both genders.”

Simon, a telecom veteran of more than 10 years, said Middle East is the key market for luxury products. “The Middle East, together with China and Russia, is the fast growing luxury market and accounts for about 70 per cent of TAG Heuer’s total business.”

He said Dubai is not only a business hub in the region, but it is also considered a top market for luxury products.

“We are confident about the success of TAG Heuer Racer in the region and it is expected to give 50 per cent sales boost to the company’s business this year,” he concluded.

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