Tag Heuer relaunches its 2000 watches

Tag Heuer is relaunching its 2000 watch collection and trying to expand its reach to women, while developing a new policy to discourage retailers from discounting watches.

When the revamped 2000 line, with its broadened range, begins to hit stores in September, it will be the largest of several Tag lines, according to Susan Nicholas, president of Tag Heuer USA. The 2000 collection has been the company’s signature line since its launch in 1982.

“The 2000 line is our entry series; the true classic sport watch,” said Nicholas. “We had a 1500 line and a 4000 line that flanked the 2000 series, but they have now been phased out. We’re taking the 2000 line and embracing a broader price point.”

There are now three tiers to the 2000 assortment. At the low end is 2000 Sport, the most youthful, featuring multicolored bezels and retailing from $650 to $795. 2000 Classic features the recognizable 12-sided bezel and stainless steel bracelet, and retails from $795 to $1,095.

At the highest end is 2000 Exclusive, a sleek combination of stainless steel and rose gold with anthracite, blue, silver or black faces retailing for $1,050 to $1,450. The rose gold looks are expected to be particularly strong with women, Nicholas said.

Despite tough going in Asia, where the firm expects a dip in sales of as much as 5 to 10 percent in the first half, the U.S. division is on plan and expects to achieve modest growth of 5 to 7 percent, Nicholas said.

“Obviously, we’re quite important to Tag’s corporate structure right now,” she said. Nicholas said if the firm can produce enough of its Kirium watches and the 2000 launch is slightly more successful than planned, the U.S. could contribute even more to the bottom line.

Tag also is taking a dramatic and controversial step to stop stores from discounting watches, a common practice among jewelry and watch retailers.

“We implemented a new policy effective July 1, saying that we could elect not to do business with any retailer who discounts our product more than 15 percent,” said Nicholas. “We’re about to take our first steps toward enforcement and are prepared to close doors and know that we will. It takes so much to build a brand. Why should we view discounting in a different light?”

A six-page ad insert, called “The Line on Design,” will feature a 4-to-2 ratio of female to male models and will make its debut in September issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair, HG and GQ.

Tag Heuer, along with Ford, will for the first time be a major sponsor of the fourth annual Gen Art Faces in Fashion event that showcases young talent. The show will take place at the Manhattan Center here on Sept. 16 and in Los Angeles for the first time on Oct. 5. The runway and still-life exhibit will present six women’s wear designers, two men’s wear designers and four accessories lines.

Nicholas said Tag liked the idea of focusing on young talent, and this is the first time the company is doing something for women’s fashion. Tag Heuer has been a sponsor of the men’s apparel runway shows here in the past.

“In sports and fashion, we like to identify with people on the rise,” said Nicholas. “Tag is for the person for whom the best may lie ahead.”