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Guy Sémon, TAG Heuer, Vice President of Science and Engineering

Guy Sémon was born in 1963. He joined the French Navy where he trained as a jet pilot then joined the French Ministry for Research as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Franche- Comté  (completing a doctorate in physics and engineering science). In July 1994, he began a freelance career joining Technicréa, a private engineering design practice (150 top engineers) where he was Scientific Director and Deputy Managing Director. The next year he opened his own company specializing in flight simulation. By chance in 2004 in Switzerland, Sémon discovered the TAGHeuer company, which was interested in manufacturing the smallest belts in the world—this was the beginning of an intensive fruitful relationship that led to the production of the Monaco V4 watch, and to the creation of the TAGHeuer R&D Centre led by Guy Sémon since January 2008.

What brings you to Kuwait? And is it your first time to visit?
It’s my first time here to introduce the last innovation in high-end products. I’m very happy. It’s a great location to explain this kind of product because we have unique customers and collectors here.

What’s the reason behind sponsoring JAMM’s Contemporary Art Auction?
TAGHeuer is proud to sponsor this auction and participate through this unique partnership in the development of culture and art in Kuwait, and in the Middle East. TAGHeuer has been pioneering Swiss luxury watch making for over 150 years bringing to the art of time measurement some of its most important innovations. Creativity and daringness are at the heart of TAGHeuer as they are for any true artist.

It’s not a traditional watch making: It’s modern, a new art for new watch making activities as there’s a connection between the idea and the concept, transformation into a picture, then creation. In this case we have a concept and we transform it into a real instrument. This is similar in terms of the philosophy of this event. Sheikha Lulu Al-Sabah is a good friend of the brand.

Does TAGHeuer control the entire production process for its watches?
Yes, we are independent of technology. We produce the case and the whole assembly is in our main factory; and we built a new facility to produce a mass movement frequency also located in Switzerland.
We have no competition.

TAGHeuer won the 2012 Aiguille d’Or for its Mikrogirder. Tell us more.
We’re very proud of this achievement. l’Horlogerie de Genève is equivalent to Oscar Night for the watch industry. The jury-awarded prizes recognize the most outstanding watches of the year in 10 categories. Nothing less than the complete re-invention of the mechanism that’s driven mechanical watches for over 300 years. The TAG Heuer Mikrogirder Chronograph is the fastest mechanical regulator ever crafted and tested is a dual-assortment, ultra high-frequency watch. It’s the first timepiece ever created without a balance wheel or a hairspring; and it’s accurate to an unprecedented 5/10,000 or 1/2,000 of a second. It beats 7.2 million times every hour, and has a flying central chronograph hand that rotates 20 times per second.

A completely new system regulates the watch. Instead of the spiral shape in a classical hairspring, it works with a coupling beam/girder, and excitatory beam/girder system and a linear oscillator. Conceived, developed and manufactured in-house in the company’s R&D lab in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

Have you tried to infuse “orientalism” into some of your designs?
We’re thinking of adding some Arabic calligraphy in the ceramic space of our watch.

In what way does TAGHeuer embrace corporate social responsibility?
We’re very concerned with an environmental programme. If you visit our facility, you’ll discover a solar system on our roof top; we’re very focused on environmentally friendly metals in our production.
We support our brand ambassadors like Leonardo DiCaprio, a passionate environmentalist, who uses his considerable star power for something more.Cameron Diaz also serves to raise awareness for programmes that empower women including UN women.

How do you continue to innovate while maintaining your brand’s identity?
TAG Heuer was born in 1860 in Switzerland: It is known as an inventor. We continue the philosophy of the brand, the innovation—to be the best in terms of accuracy, precision and frequency. So it’s not a breakthrough but rather a tradition. We just continue the story launched 152 years ago. After me, you’ll see a new director continuing the success because it’s a team spirit.

The brand continues to move in leaps and bounds towards true watch making. Five years ago TAGHeuer decided to stage its own chorological revolution; it set about redefining the three key pillars of the craft: power, transmission and regulation. An ambitious plan, no doubt, but what was the outcome and where did we end up five years down the track? We’ve made some pretty significant contributions to improvements in watch making technology. Certainly TAGHeuer is deserving of its name.