Tag Heuer Connected Review: A Great $300 Smartwatch, For Six Times The Price

Tag Heuer Connected Review: A Great $US300 ($424) Smartwatch For Five Times The Price

The Tag Heuer Connected is the first Android Wear smartwatch made by a Swiss watchmaker. With a big display, a stainless steel frame, and powerful guts inside, the Connected is the forefather to all the luxury wrist wearables that will inevitably follow it, and it's a wonderful piece of wrist gear.

Images: Alex Cranz

It's also $2000 in Australia.

What Is It?

Tag Heuer Connected Review: A Great $US300 ($424) Smartwatch For Five Times The Price

If you've never had a compulsion to buy a Rolex, Breitling, or some other European watch whose name you're probably mispronouncing, then adding smarts to a "luxury" watch isn't going to change your mind. In fact, it could actively dissuade you. If the idea is to own something passed down through generations, the momentary cutting-edge lifespan of most gadgets (two years, if you're lucky) makes the Tag Heuer Connected a laughable proposition.

Mainly because the Tag Heuer doesn't excel at anything — it's all around good, but not great. It's not the best-looking watch, that arguably goes to the Apple Watch or maybe the Huawei Watch depending on your preference. It's not the longest lasting either — that distinction is Pebble's alone. And it's definitely not the cheapest. Not even close. But this is the world's first smartwatch made in partnership with a company that actually makes luxury watches — not a tech company pretending it has fashion sense — so in a way, it's the first of its kind.

What's It Good At?

Tag Heuer Connected Review: A Great $US300 ($424) Smartwatch For Five Times The Price

So what does the Tag Heuer Connected actually get right? Well, a couple things. The biggest one is that the Bluetooth connection on this watch is solid. I've often found that the required connection between my phone and watch can be spotty with most Android Wear or Pebble watches, but the Connected never blipped or dropped a connection.

Second, the watch face looks great and the watch is able to display a low-power watch face without sacrificing too much battery. So at the very least, you can always see the time — no wrist-flicking required, and the full 360-degree display means you can see it perfectly from any angle. But if you're going to count pixels, you'll be disappointed. For such a big screen 248 pixels-per-inch is too few. You can make out each individual pixel clearly. It can be a little distracting and it's also far fewer pixels-per-inch than the Apple Watch and other wearables, so the screen ends up looking less stellar than much cheaper competitors.

The watch also gives users access to the up the Tag Heuer app that comes with watch faces and... more watch faces.

The small little UI additions, including free luxe watches faces through the Tag Heuer app and slight colour changes to the apps menu, makes for a wonderfully fantastic watch. If the Connected cost $US300 ($424), and you're already a fan of big and bulky timepieces, you should have bought one yesterday.

What's It Not Good At?

Tag Heuer Connected Review: A Great $US300 ($424) Smartwatch For Five Times The Price

But that's not what we're dealing with here. We're talking about fifteen hundred big ones, and while that is mildly cheap compared to some Apple Watches, it's still a hefty price that needs to check off a few "must haves" to be worth it. Although the watch's Intel chip makes it technically capable, it still missing some features less expensive watches have, like GPS, a heart rate sensor, or a speaker that let's you feel like a double-O agent. With Android Wear now supporting speakers in its latest update, it's something you'll probably want!

If you use the watch with any amount of regularity, you're only going to get a day of battery life plus some change, maybe two-days if you're more of a lassaize faire watch owner, in which case I'm not sure why you have a smartwatch to being with. That a big battery makes for a big watch. The watch is 12.8mm deep, the bulkiest Android Wear watch there is. My wrists are muy pequeño so it looks ridiculous like all big watches. But even for those who love the bulk, the Connected watch is pushing it.

However, the most confusing detail are the watch materials. If this watch was $300 (like I so wish it was), the materials would make sense: Steel frame, plastic back casing, and a rubber band. But not $US1,500 ($2,119). Never $US1,500 ($2,119). Friends would often slack-jawed, eyes popped-out like Arnold on Mars when I told them the price.

"But it feels so cheap." Yeah, I don't get it either.

Should You Buy It?

Tag Heuer Connected Review: A Great $US300 ($424) Smartwatch For Five Times The Price

If the Tag Heuer Connected is a vision of the luxury smartwatch future to come, watchmakers are going to need to get more creative to deliver something worth such pricey purchase. Tag Heuer's idea of replacing the watch after two years for a special edition mechanical watch is a start, but the additional $2000 required to buy in isn't a solution for anyone outside of the watch collector community.

When CEO of Tag Heuer Jean-Claude Biver said his company was getting into the smartwatch game, he promised that whatever they'd do it'd be "first, different and unique." The Tag Heuer is none of those things. Hopefully version 2.0 can live up to that original promise.


Comments

    A rubber strap? For realises?! I get that with a Seiko you might buy the rubber option to save a few bucks to then upgrade to a solid link bracelet, but there's no excuse here. Even pebbles are coming on leather and steel these days (and the steel bracelet is pretty hefty).

    Does this even have a sapphire crystal?

    Here's how my $250 pebble round looks these days:

    http://i.imgur.com/SA3vR2Q.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/yE8q6XZ.jpg

    Last edited 01/03/16 12:31 pm

      That's classic! I went an SKX007 on a NATO for my Bond on a Budget watch.

        I aaaaalmost did that, but went with the blue 009 to make a sort of planet ocean thing.

        http://i.imgur.com/QToeoSc.jpg

        It's my absolute favourite watch.

          Love it. Seiko divers are a modern classic in their own right and great little watches, it amazes me how much easier mine is to deal with than even my much more expensive "good" watch. I often think about picking up an Orange Monster at some stage just for something a little bit different again.

      Thanks. You've convinced me to never buy a smart-watch, let alone a Pebble.

        Yes, surely the future could hold nothing for you now that you have borne witness to one watch.

        Now let me show you a picture of my wife, so that you may never know the love of another human being...

      This is a high quality rubber strap with a proper clasp (vs buckle) and not unusual for a high end watch marketed at diving/sports/active lifestyle. The Planet Ocean had/has a rubber strap option and if I bought one that's the way I would go.

      The rubber strap would definitely be cheaper to produce, but the difference for a quality rubber strap probably isn't as great as it seems and they can have comfort and adjustability that a bracelet can't.

        A diving/sports/active lifestyle strap is a bit incongruous on a smartwatch with an ip67 rating and no fitness hardware.

          It does track activity via motion sensors, which integrate with Google Fit.

          Last edited 01/03/16 6:25 pm

      Yes, it has a sapphire face.

      The rubber strap is in keeping with TAG's sporting Carrera line of mechanicals, which the Connected emulates.

      I don't usually like rubber bracelets, but for some reason it feels and looks right on the Connected, and I'm not tempted to swap it out.

    Not even at $300 bux would I buy it. AT $2000 they are smoking crack and clearly think we are all iTards downunder.

    love they way the headline was worded.

    Steel frame, plastic back casing, and a rubber band

    The case is supposed to be titanium according to Tag Heuer and that rubber strap is the proper, high end watch kind. The materials certainly don't justify the price but I think it deserves more credit than 'steel case & rubber band'.

    However, this watch was a massive disappointment for me. Tag Heuer had a great opportunity here to differentiate themselves and made some big claims but in the end just built more of the same. I was hoping they would embrace this new smartwatch form and build something authentic to that, but even just looking at the included watch faces, they are replicas of the physical Tag Heuer range when they could have built some that were new and embraced the 'digital' medium. I do like what they have done with the alarm & stopwatch though.

    I was also hoping Google might release some updates to Android Wear alongside this, maybe haptic for turn-by-turn navigation or on-device GPS or something to push the whole thing forward a little.

    It's made of titanium, not steel. That partially explains the significant price, and more importantly makes it a very comfortable watch to wear day-in, day-out.

    Ironically, the titanium is also what makes some uneducated people say "it feels cheap". Some people equate "heavy watch" with "expensive watch". (For years, Chinese replica watch makers have been putting concrete and other ballast in their knock-off watches to make them heavier.)

    Personally, I'd rather wear a lighter watch all day.

    The battery life is more like 2 days, not the 1 advertised day. That's nowhere near my Pebble Steel, but then, TAG Connected is two classes above Pebble in terms of quality, functionality and presentation.

    Is it worth $2000? That depends on what you're looking for in a watch. If all you want from a watch is functionality, and brands aren't important to you, then buy any of the cheaper Android watches. Similarly, if you don't appreciate the art, craft and tradition of Swiss luxury watchmaking, then buy a cheap fashion brand with Chinese internals and be happy with it.

    But I've waited for years for a luxury watch maker to make a smartwatch that I could wear to business meetings without looking like a nerd with a pocket protector. This is the first watch that meets that criteria ... a genuine luxury brand offering smartwatch functionality at a high level of fit and finish. It straddles the two worlds I live in.

    I'm not the only one who has been waiting. TAG Connected has been so popular that it keeps selling out, and TAG have needed to significantly increase the production runs. I am confident this will lead to better luxury smartwatches - with speakers and heart rate sensors - in a couple of years from other luxury watch manufacturers. I am also hoping that, when the time comes for me to upgrade this watch, TAG will also be offering a Rev2 that offers those features.

    For now, I'm happy with the TAG Heuer Connected.

    One final comment... When I was in a Manhattan earlier this year the city was crawling with people wearing Apple Watches. I enjoyed being a little bit different to that crowd. And from a functionality perspective, the 'always on' watchface of the TAG is proving far superior to the itinerant wrist-flicking of the Apple wearers.

    Last edited 01/03/16 6:21 pm

      I have a full titanium casing and band on my Seiko. It was 300 AUD.

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