With rumors stretching back over a year, Tag Heuer finally showed off its $1,500 Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch, Android Wear’s answer to the high-end, gold-plated Apple Watch. It’s luxe. It’s Swiss. And it’s actually not a crazy idea.
Let’s talk a bit about the watch for a second. Tag Heuer Connected ticks off a bunch of firsts for Android Wear. It’s the first Android Wear watch to break the $1000 barrier (and then some). At $1,500, the wristable is almost double the price of the second-most expensive Android Wear watch, but compared to the Apple Watch’s eye-popping $10,000, it feels almost....affordable? It’s also got the first Intel processor (Z34XX) inside an Android Wear watch though many more will be coming. And finally, the Connected is also the first modern smartwatch designed by an actual watch company, so one would hope that it looks good. It does!
Despite all these firsts, the tech itself is obviously not worth the price. It connects to Android phones or iPhones. (Android Wear functionality is still limited on iOS but Google says more features are on the way).
So really, if you strip away the Swiss design, you’re not working with much more than a muuuuuuch cheaper $300 Moto 360. In other words, you’re buying the brand, and its promise of superior, luxury design. However, even that promise is a little watered down. At an event today, Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver said that watch won’t be labeled “Swiss Made” but rather “Swiss Engineered,” which means that Switzerland doesn’t make wearable processors. For shame Tag.
But that doesn’t keep the Tag Heuer Connected watch from looking incredibly great. It’s built from grade 2 titanium so it feels incredibly solid, and its 46mm diameter display makes it one of the bigger watches out there—but not one of the heaviest. It’s incredibly lightweight, owing to its titanium construction. The screen is a massive 1.5-inch transflective LCD display, so the watch looks good in doors and out. I couldn’t quite run outside to test that claim without possibly being tackled by security, but we’ve seen this tech in smartwatches like the Sony SmartWatch 3, so it most likely works fine.
Google did add in a few customizations for Tag Heuer. In the app launcher, the background is now a dark gray instead of a standard white to better match the gray titanium watch casing. The watch also has customizable watchfaces that instead of leaving small notifications on the bottom of the watchface, whether completely on or in low-power mode, it creates an icon integrated into the watchface, which helps make the Tag Heuer look more like a watch than a computer. There’s also a companion app, specifically for the watch, that will keep users updates on new watchface partnerships and other updates.
Other than that, Android Wear remains unsullied. Swipe up for quick notifications settings, down for different Android Wear cards and left to access the app drawer. A single crown at 3 o’clock on the device gives you a quick way to get back to the watchface.
If you’re already considering a $1,500 watch—smart or otherwise—that probably means you’ve probably got cash to burn. Still, it’s never really made any sense to spend so much money on something that will become obsolete. Tag Heuer knows this is a pain point for many, so it’s offering buyers a deal. If you buy the Connected watch, you can spend another $1,500 to turn it into a mechanical watch that will then, in theory, last a lifetime. So if you’d rather wear a great-looking watch rather than a brain-dead “smartwatch” in 2018, Tag Heuer gives you a pricey way out.
The company is offering several band colors including black, white, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. The straps use a pinch-and-release clasp, and are made from sturdy rubber, which is not quite as comfortable as genuine leather. Still, at least it gives you peace of mind if you want to get this thing a little wet. Importantly, the watch is IP67 water resistant.
Biver exclaimed several times throughout today’s unveiling that the Tag Heuer Connected watch was the marriage of Silicon Valley and Watch Valley, America and Switzerland. While that may be true, this hardware union doesn’t fix all the problems that come with smartwatches. If you didn’t like Android Wear before, Tag Heuer isn’t going to win you over on the software side of things, and if you wanted to get started with smartwatches, there’s much cheaper options that actually do a little more (there’s no HR sensor on this guy for instance).
But if you’re looking for something luxe that’s smart and actually made by a watch company, then that’s what Tag Heuer Connected is for.
- OS: Android Wear 1.3 (compatible with Android 4.3+ and iOS 8.2+)
- CPU: Intel Atom processor Z34XX (1.6GHz)
- Display: 46mm transflective LCD with sapphire crystal
- Resolution: 360x360
- PPI: 240
- Memory: 1GB
- Storage: 4GB
- Battery: 410mAh, reported 25 hours on average
- Thickness: 12.8mm
- Weight: 52 grams
- Wireless Charging: No (you can actually see the charger in the top image)
- Sensors: Gyroscope, tilt detection sensor, microphone, haptic engine
- Wifi: Yes
- Waterproof: No, IP67 water resistance though
- Price: $1,500
- Available now
- Notable Extras: Two-year warranty, can switch out with a new mechanical watch at the end of the two-year warranty for $1500.