How smart is TAG Heuer’s new smartwatch?
Editors Pick / Events
The iconic Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer may have been making watches for more than 150 years, but yesterday marked the launch of its debut smartwatch. The TAG Heuer Connected is a far cry from TAG’s staple mechanical chronographs – it’s powered by Intel Inside and runs Google’s Android Wear operating system. And it’s got people talking.
The watch was launched in New York City by TAG Heuer’s charismatic CEO Jean-Claude Biver, who was keen to point out that unlike a lot of the competition – he didn’t name names – his is a connected watch that looks like a normal watch.
Which it does – sort of. The design mirrors that of TAG Heuer’s Carrera Heuer 01, the in-house chrono launched at Baselworld earlier this year, which means you get a modular, angular, post-modern case design. But the dial is unmistakably made up of pixels (360×360 of them at 240ppi of them, in fact).
That aside, this is an important addition to the fast-expanding canon of smartwatches. Bringing Silicon Valley together with Switzerland’s famous Jura Valley, the heart of the country’s watchmaking industry, is a smart – forgive me – move. It meshes luxury and tech in a way that opens the door a little wider than most Swiss smartwatch efforts have managed so far (the one exception might be Frédérique Constant’s Horological Smartwatch – but TAG’s solution is a lot cleverer than that).
It comes with an interesting sub-clause, too. After two years of ownership, when the warranty runs out, you can chop it in for its mechanical twin, a new version of the Carrera that will only be available to anyone looking to trade in their Connected.
The initial outlay for the Connected is £1, 100 (, 500), and you’ll need the same again to switch (up?) to the mechanical. What the take-up will be is anyone’s guess at this point – Mr Biver said he was expecting 10 per cent. Whatever the numbers, it’s a novel response to the problem of obsolescence all smartwatches face. It also looks like a neat mechanical watch finance plan – £2, 200 in two installments over two years. Will get some people thinking, certainly.
Anyway, the Connected watch has a few other surprises. First is that it works with both Android-based phones and with iPhones, albeit with reduced functionality through the latter. It’s also incredibly light – its 46mm case is made of Grade 2 titanium, which means the whole package weighs in at just 52g.
It comes in an array of colours – black, white, blue, green, orange, red and yellow – and with subscriptions to a number of exclusive apps, including GolfShot Pro (golf), RaceChrono Pro (motor sport) and Viewrangers (trailing). It runs Google Fit and further third-party apps will follow.
According to Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich (who was also at the launch), battery life under normal usage is expected to be 18-20 hours, which isn’t great but compares with Apple Watch. It’s got 4GB of storage memory, a microphone so you can get Google to search using voice commands, and it’s also water-resistant, but only according to the IP67 rating – about one metre.
It’s an impressive bit of kit, no doubt, and adds some zest to the smartwatch narrative, but will it work? It went on sale in 20 US outlets an hour after launch, and had sold 20 in the first 20 minutes. Not bad, but hardly game-changing. It lands in the UK on November 30th – set your watches…
Apple Watch, from £299
Pros: Apple cred, huge functionality, Apple Pay
Cons: Ubiquity, looming obsolescence, rubbish at telling the time
Frédérique Constant Horological Smartwatch, £870
Pros: Really does look like a watch, unobtrusive, reasonable longevity, two-year battery life
Cons: Very limited functionality, boring design