Truly Avant-Garde: Exclusive chat with Edouard Mignon on TAG Heuer’s inovations for 2022

Edouard Mignon, CIO for LVMH watches & jewelry, shares the finer points of TAG Heuer’s innovations for 2022

This has been quite an exciting year for fans of TAG Heuer, as the avant-garde watch brand has introduced quite a lot of exciting novelties. There are new Aquaracer models that continue last year’s revamp of the collection, a new iteration of the Connected Watch and so much more. Not too long ago, DA MAN corresponded with Edouard Mignon, Chief Innovation Officer for LVMH Watches and Jewelry, to learn more about TAG Heuer’s new launches in 2022. Below are excerpts from our conversation…

DAMAN: Is there an overarching theme or message that underlies TAG Heuer’s novelties for 2022?
Edouard Mignon: The TAG Heuer novelties introduced during Watches & Wonders 2022 represent a real leap forward in terms of durability, quality and innovation.
DA: Last year, TAG Heuer revamped the Aquaracer line, and the collection remains in the spotlight this year. What do you see as some of the most important developments and changes to the Aquaracer collection for 2022 and perhaps beyond?
EM: Last year, TAG Heuer opened a new chapter to the Aquaracer story with the Aquaracer Professional 300, the brand’s ultimate luxury diver’s watch. In 2022 we continue to tell the story of the Aquaracer with a new version, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200.
For this sister model we focused on the refinement. We wanted to create an everyday watch while keeping all the features of a real Aquaracer. The result is a smaller watch, with a more urban look, designed to be as comfortable in extreme conditions like ice skiing as it is pounding the pavement. The distinction between the Aquaracer Professional 200 and Aquaracer Professional 300 is easily defined. There are some slight differences which give the Aquaracer Professional 200 its unique character.
For example, the Aquaracer Professional 200 is more compact at 40mm with the further option of a smaller 30mm case. The bezel still features a diving scale, only now it’s engraved into a steel insert, rather than one in ceramic and the central bracelet link is polished rather than brushed. We can say that the Aquaracer Professional 200 adopts more classic sports watch codes bringing to the watch a more formal look.In addition, we’re also introducing three exceptional pieces to the collection that are bold, innovative and built for the extremes: Our first solar-powered Solargraph, the Superdiver made for saturation diving down to 1000 meters and the vibrant Orange Diver. All share the unmistakable DNA of the Heuer 844 designed more than 40 years ago and showcase refined design choices, top of the line materials, finishes and engineering, thus reinforcing our offering of ultra-rugged and durable yet stylish tool watches.
DA: Another major highlight of TAG Heuer’s 2022 releases is, of course, the Connected Watch Calibre E4. Can you give us a brief rundown of the highlights and features of this new model?
EM: The new generation TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 is built to deliver ultimate elegance and sporting performance. We’ve been a pioneer in the luxury connected watch segment since 2015 and we’re continuing our efforts to develop the category further, this year launching two new watches, 42 and 45mm, more refined than ever, each showcasing TAG Heuer’s trademark design codes and with updated tech features throughout the digital experience, as well as access to our ever-growing ecosystem of sports activities, wellness apps and elegant watch faces inspired from iconicwatchmaking chronographs.
DA: Back in 2016, we had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Jean-Claude Biver, and when our conversation touched on the Connected Watch, he mentioned how it “will maybe become the biggest line of TAG Heuer one day.” How would you best describe the evolution of the Connected Watch, especially in terms of its overall significance for TAG Heuer?
EM: The success of the TAG Heuer Connected has been exceptional, and we are very proud to present our fourth generation this year; it’s an increasingly important share of our business. Of course, we believe that luxury watches generally still have a bright future ahead of them; we see demand growing even for the younger generations and our core business will remain mechanical timepieces. But the brand was right to invest in smartwatches as early as 2015 as the digital lifestyle is driving such a fast-growing market. We see that as an opportunity for incremental business and the TAG Heuer Connected has been a key lever in opening the brand up to new audiences and strengthening our offering. We will therefore continue to build out this line and innovate as the technology progresses. We don’t however see it as a threat to mechanical watches, on the contrary, and our focus remains on creating beautiful creative and innovative timepieces for our customers, that express our core values and will stand the test of time.
DA: We were also quite intrigued by the two TAG Heuer Autavia 60th Anniversary COSC Flyback Chronographs—and the new GMT model, too. It’s always rather exciting to see rare complications pop up again, especially in collections that are often overshadowed by their more popular siblings. Were there any particular challenges that surfaced during the development of these new Autavia chronographs?
EM: Yes, these are indeed exciting developments for the TAG Heuer Autavia collection. With its origins as a dashboard stopwatch, it’s dedicated to long-time time measurement, so it naturally conveys the notion of travel. Following our 2019 three hand models, we wanted to add a travel function, bring some color accents into the dial, and remind our collectors of
the very cool two-tone bezels that we used in our 1970s Autavia GMTs. And with the Calibre Heuer 02 COSC Flyback manufacture movement, we bring the flyback function to the Autavia collection for the first time. The flyback function makes it possible to reset
the chronograph hand and commence a new timing without the need to stop it first. This feature can save valuable time in high-pressure situations, such as recording lap times at the racetrack.
DA: Of all the novelties released in 2022, which is your personal favorite? Or perhaps there is a particular novelty that, in your opinion, really showcases TAG Heuer’s innovative drive this year? Something that really emphasizes the “Techniques d’Avant Garde” part of TAG Heuer…
EM: In terms of innovation, I would of course highlight the spectacular TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma, a true milestone for TAG Heuer. For us, this innovation is about being avant-garde— an aspect that is deeply rooted in our DNA.
For 160 years, TAG Heuer has demonstrated a pure avant-garde watchmaking spirit and a commitment to innovation with revolutionary technologies that have included the oscillating pinion for mechanical stopwatches in 1887, the Mikrograph in 1916, the first automatic- winding chronograph movement—the Calibre 11—in 1969 and the first luxury smartwatch in 2015. Lab-grown diamonds
are another concrete proof of our avant-garde and innovation spirit and as we speak about from nanobiology to quantum computing, we are exactly in this area and this spirit. So, we wanted to be part of the pioneers in offering lab-grown diamonds in a very different, innovative, exciting and extensive way.
DA: On a much more general note, what is your all-time favorite TAG Heuer watch?
EM: As someone who is equally passionate about beautiful watchmaking as I am about cars and racing, I would say the TAG Heuer Monaco is the piece that resonates the strongest.