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Luxury goods maker LVMH eyes smartwatch partnership

The company, which includes fashion legends such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi, is considering a partnership with a tech company to build a smartwatch of its own.

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Apple Watch James Martin/CNET

Apple Watch's fashion-first design may soon have a competitor in the form of one of the world's most prestigious fashion brands.

LVMH, a luxury goods conglomerate that owns everything from Dom Perignon to Louis Vuitton to Fendi to De Beers, plans to try its luck in the smartwatch business through a partnership with a technology company.

In a Wall Street Journal interview published Friday, LVMH watch division head Jean-Claude Biver said his company is currently in "some talks" about partnering with a tech company to build a smartwatch. He noted that "maybe in nine months, we will have a smartwatch." He didn't specify which company may be chosen for the smartwatch design.

Smartwatches have gained ground over the past year, as the computer industry seeks the next big thing, as technology reaches new levels, and as consumers gingerly have begun to show interest.

Last month, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch and tried to turn that concept on its head with a Luxury edition that will include gold plating and a stylish band. Motorola's Moto 360 is also considered a more fashionable option than others on the market.

It was Apple that was at the front of Biver's mind during the interview. He told the Journal that other companies have tried smartwatches, but "when Apple does it, it will sell." And this has led his company to consider how to meld its high-fashion brand with smartwatch technology.

That will be no easy task. As Biver himself points out, Apple is in the business of producing products that are refreshed every couple of years and people willingly follow its lead. LVMH, meanwhile, generally focuses products meant to last a lifetime.

Biver didn't say which of the LVMH brands will get a smartwatch, but the company owns several watch companies, including Bulgari, TAG Heuer, FRED and Hublot.

LVMH did not immediately respond to a request for comment.