TAG Heuer's Chief Product Officer Maria Laffont Talks Carreras, Trends and More
TAG Heuer's Chief Product Officer Maria Laffont Talks Carreras, Trends and More

We catch up with one of horology's most accomplished women ahead of Watches and Wonders 2024 for an exclusive insight on new models, old traditions at TAG Heuer, and ongoing trends within the watchmaking world

Maria Laffont's trajectory through the echelons of luxury brands encapsulates a journey marked by innovation, strategic vision, and a profound understanding of both market trends and timeless elegance. Before her current role as Chief Product Officer at TAG Heuer, where she has served with distinction since January 2023, Laffont honed her expertise in a series of progressively senior positions within the luxury sector; she's worked at key roles in Chanel, Piaget, De Beers and more across nearly two decades. 


Her tenure at TAG Heuer began in March 2021 as Vice President of Design & Product, a role she held for over two years before ascending to her current position. Here, Laffont has been pivotal in marrying cutting-edge technology with TAG Heuer's storied tradition of craftsmanship, overseeing the launch of collections that resonate deeply with modern consumers. Ahead of Watches and Wonders, Geneva 2024, we caught up with Laffont to chat about TAG Heuer's latest models, the ins and outs of product design, and ongoing trends within the industry. Excerpts:


Maria Laffont with a TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph


Man's World: This year’s LVMH Watch Week saw the Carrera take centre stage with the new Chronograph and Date Plasma Diamant D'Avant-Garde. Tell us about the design story of these two additions to the Carrera legacy.


Maria Laffont: The Chronograph and Date Plasma Diamant D'Avant-Garde models embody the essence of the Carrera collection while introducing cutting-edge materials and aesthetics. With the use of Plasma Diamant D’Avant-Garde, TAG Heuer has elevated the Carrera to a new level of sophistication and avant-garde style, while still paying homage to its rich heritage. 


MW: Given the Aquaracer family's updates in January 2023 and 2024, could you detail how TAG Heuer's design philosophy differs when creating diving watches compared to racing watches, especially in terms of functionality and aesthetics? 


ML: TAG Heuer's design philosophy differs significantly when creating diving watches compared to racing watches, especially in terms of functionality and aesthetics. The Aquaracer family emphasizes robustness, water resistance, and legibility, essential qualities for underwater use. In contrast, racing watches prioritize precision, readability, and dynamic design elements to complement the fast-paced world of motorsports. While both collections share TAG Heuer's commitment to innovation and quality, their designs cater to the specific demands of their respective environments. 


MW: We also saw a teaser for the new ‘Avant Garde’ eyewear line — can you tell us more about this upcoming vision for TAG Heuer? How will it differ from the brand’s existing eyewear designs? 


ML: This upcoming collection represents a collaboration with renowned Design Director Renato Montagner, known for his excellence and willingness to challenge conventions. The new eyewear models go beyond conventional designs, emphasizing ergonomics and utilizing innovative materials such as recycled nylon and titanium. This collection epitomizes TAG Heuer's longstanding commitment to innovation, promising groundbreaking eyewear designs that push boundaries and redefine luxury. 


MW: We recently saw the TAG Heuer x Malbon golf watch launch this February. How does your team approach collaborations with other brands? 


ML: Collaborations with other brands at TAG Heuer are carefully curated, combining historical resonance with contemporary opportunity. Above all, authenticity reigns supreme, ensuring alignment with the brand's core identity. For instance, the TAG Heuer Carrera Ikuzawa pays homage to the racing legacy of Ikuzawa in collaboration with his creative daughter, May. This limited-edition watch was a resounding success, showcasing TAG Heuer's ability to merge heritage with contemporary creativity through meaningful partnerships. 


MW: What’s your day-to-day experience like at the helm of Product and Design at TAG Heuer? 

ML: My day-to-day? Exhilarating and dynamic. It involves overseeing the development of new timepieces, ensuring they embody TAG Heuer's core values of avant-garde, innovation, and heritage. Collaborating with talented teams, both internally and externally, push the boundaries of watchmaking, creating iconic designs that resonate with enthusiasts worldwide. It’s a passionate job and a unique chance. 


MW: Much of your career has been spent with some of the biggest jewellery brands in the world. Has the culture there influenced your opinions on product design? 

The culture of excellence and craftsmanship prevalent in jewellery brands has instilled in me a deep appreciation for quality, innovation, and attention to detail, which I bring to my role at TAG Heuer. 


MW: Can you walk us through the process of developing a new ‘product story’ at TAG Heuer? How do you balance heritage with innovation as a product designer? 

ML: Developing a new product involves a meticulous blend of creativity, innovation, and market research. It starts with brainstorming to generate ideas and concepts. From there, prototypes are created and refined based on feedback, ultimately culminating in the launch of a new timepiece that embodies the essence of TAG Heuer. 

This task is both delicate and rewarding, as well as challenging. It requires honouring the brand's storied history and iconic designs while simultaneously pushing the limits of creativity and technology to craft innovative timepieces that resonate with today's discerning consumers. Our recent release, the Carrera Chronograph 39 mm "Glassbox," achieved tremendous success, largely due to its seamless fusion of traditional inspiration with innovative elements, demonstrating our commitment to blending the past with cutting-edge innovation.


MW: How does sustainability and ethical sourcing play into the product design process at TAG Heuer? 

ML: Sustainability and ethical sourcing play a crucial role in the product design process at TAG Heuer. The company is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint and maximizing resource efficiency across all operations. This commitment is reflected in initiatives such as using renewable energy sources, recycling waste materials, and implementing environmentally friendly practices throughout the production process. 


MW: What’s your personal favourite TAG Heuer timepiece? 

ML: While I don't have a specific favourite TAG Heuer timepiece, the Aquaracer holds a special place in my heart. Its versatile character and rugged yet refined design make it a standout choice for any occasion. The new Solargraph version, with the deep polar blue dial, adds a touch of elegance that perfectly complements its adventurous spirit. 


MW: Are there any design trends in the watchmaking world that you’d love to see evolve in the coming years? 

ML: I would love to see more women, both in design roles and as consumers. Carole Kasapi, our movement director, is a prime example of the incredible talent and creativity women bring to the industry. Their unique perspectives and contributions enrich the world of watchmaking, as evidenced by remarkable achievements like the TAG Heuer Monaco Rattrapante, showcasing the prowess of female designers in a traditionally male-dominated field. 



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