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Wed 4 Dec 2019 10:47 AM

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Counterfeiting is 'disease' of luxury watch industry, says Tag Heuer CEO

Tag Heuer CEO Stephane Bianchi warned customers to be wary of tempting online sales prices

Counterfeiting is 'disease' of luxury watch industry, says Tag Heuer CEO

Counterfeit watcjes are becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated.

Counterfeit and ‘grey market’ luxury watches are diseases on the industry, according to Tag Heuer CEO Stéphane Bianchi.

Bianchi was appointed as the CEO of LVMH’s watchmaking division in November 2018. In his position, he directly leads the Tag Heuer brand. Additionally, the CEOs of Hublot and Zenith report to him.

In his first interview in the Middle East on the sidelines of the Formula E Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia – in which the Tag Heuer Porsche Formula E team made its debut – Bianchi said that counterfeits are becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated.

“Counterfeiting and grey market [sales] are two big diseases in the watch industry,” he said. “What we’re observing is that counterfeiting is more and more precise. Sometimes it’s very well done.”

To combat counterfeit watches, Bianchi said the company is currently working to develop blockchain technology that will be used for verification purposes.

“We’re thinking of blockchain technology to deliver some certificates to guarantee that your watch is the right one,” he said. “Otherwise, sometimes you can’t make the difference.”

Too good to be true?

While Bianchi said that monitoring watches sold by official Tag Heuer retailers is “easy”, on the second-hand market, customers may “never know.”

“People have to be careful if they see a very good price on the Internet,” he said. “That’s not normal, and what’s not normal is weird. It’s a big deal for us.”

Additionally, Bianchi said that Tag Heuer is increasingly cracking down on grey market sellers.

“We’re cutting it as much as possible. Everyone who does a grey market sale with Tag Heuer, we cut the deal,” he said. “We’re tracking our watches. We know if we sell watches in a certain country and we find the same watch in another country, then we’ve got to investigate.”

According to some estimates, the sale of counterfeit watches costs the industry as much as $618 million of the original manufacturers’ retail selling prices.

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