April 9, 2014

Ahead
of Time

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In an extremely competitive watchmaking industry, staying ahead of time is key to success. With movements, dials and boxes manufactured in-house, TAG Heuer is one of the rare Swiss watchmakers that can boast of such an extensive production capacity. Stéphane Linder, the CEO of the House, tells us about the production strategy of TAG Heuer.

What is the production process like at TAG Heuer?

TAG Heuer has a mixed process, which includes internal production and collaboration with external suppliers. Internally we produce the chronographs, the dials and the movements. We also finish assembly of our watches and do the final quality controls. And obviously, TAG Heuer handles research and development, as well as our own quality and metrology test laboratory. There are 913 people working in the production process at our four sites: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Cornol, Tramelan and Chevenez, our newest production site in the Jura canton that opened its doors in 2013.

Why is internal production important?

Internal production is essential in the sense that it allows you to be a master of your fate, limiting your dependence on a single-source supplier. The capacity to control the production line is even more crucial in an environment marked by extreme competitiveness between the Swiss watchmaking brands. For instance, we fully manufacture the chronographs for our high-end collections that benefit from our latest innovations. This would not be possible if the movements were produced by external suppliers who offer only standard market quality. Internal production allows us to position our brand as a real manufacture, which is particularly appreciated by our customers, especially from Japan and China.

How efficient is the TAG Heuer production strategy? Do you intend to collaborate with other LVMH Group brands?

Facing an increasing demand, we had to up our production capacity. Given our continued development, especially in movement production, which we began in 2008, our production capacity is appropriate. However, we are very much aware of the need to continually optimize our industrial processes, and we aim to constantly improve the costs and efficiency of production. All industrial activity is optimized thanks to the growth in volume. This is why we are already working with other brands from the LVMH Group, especially for the production of dials and cases. We also do not exclude the possibility of supplying them with movements and movement components in the near future.

Focus on the Chevenez manufactory:

Facing an increasing demand, TAG Heuer continues to develop the production capacity of the House. The newest production site opened its doors in Chevenez, in the Jura canton of Switzerland in late 2013. The watchmaking manufacture is currently devoted to the assembly of 50’000 movements, including the Calibre 1887 and the Calibre 1969, which are produced 100% internally.

Inspired by “lean manufacturing”, the ultramodern Chevenez production site covers 2,000 square meters. The automated line can sustain 24-hour production supervised by 8-hour staff shifts, while the movement production numbers are set to double by 2018. The future manufacturing strategy also includes the production of the totality of the TAG Heuer movement components and assembly of 50% of the movements.

Respectful to the environment, the production site uses the electricity produced by the solar panels on the roof of the building. 

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