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Rediff.com  » Business » TAG Heuer defers mobile phone launch to Mar 2009

TAG Heuer defers mobile phone launch to Mar 2009

Last updated on: December 04, 2008 16:33 IST

Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer, part of French luxury goods group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy( LVMH), has deferred the launch of its high-end mobile phones in India.

It had initially planned to roll-out TAG Heuer phones in the first half of the current year, which it later revised to December 2008. The company now says it will launch the phones by March 2009.

TAG Heuer has also revised the starting price of the phone, which was to debut in India for around Rs 2,20,000.

"It is a high-end luxury mobile phone and in India it will start at Rs 2,70,000 through exclusive Tag Heuer boutiques and select stores," Jean-Christophe Babin, president and CEO, TAG Heuer, told Business Standard.

Touted as the Vertu killer, the first mobile phone from TAG Heuer stable is called The Meridiist and sports a unique secondary top screen that displays time.

It is available only in 8-9 stores across the world with Singapore being the only Asian country where the phones are available.

Given the complex micro mechanic engineering involved in hand-assembling the 430 components of the phone, the company has been able to manufacture only a few pieces every week.

"We have been out of stock as the demand has been phenomenal. Since we do not have the required inventory, we cannot introduce the phones worldwide," Babin explained.

"The ultra precise mechanics take time and we shall wait for the inventory to achieve a sizable amount," he added. The phones are manufactured at factory in France and sent to Switzerland from where it is finally exported.

TAG Heuer Meriidist Phone Watch comes with an all-in-one USB plug to charge the phone as well as transfer data to the PC. It's constructed from corrosion-resistant, watch making 316L steel.

The dual displays have been crafted from scratch-resistance 60.5 carats sapphire crystal. It has a 28-day standby time and 7 hours of talk time.

"We want this phone to be the new premium accessory for men," Babin said.

In India, the TAG Heuer mobile handsets will be available at TAG Heuer boutiques and select multi-brand retail outlets across Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahemdabad and Kolkata.

The company has recently opened 2 boutiques, one each in UB Group's UB City Mall and DLF's Emporio Mall.

Incidentally, given the high real estate prices in the country, TAG Heuer has adopted a wait-and-watch policy in terms of expanding its stores. While it has decided to open two format stores -- one each in Chennai and Mumbai, its target of opening 30 stores by 2010 will depend on the real estate environment in the country.

"We are talking to mall developers and evaluating other opportunities," Babin added.

Suvi Dogra in New Delhi
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