Overnight, Tag Heuer was the first traditional, fashionable, respectable watchmaker to release an Android Wear smartwatch. Now, I'm sticking with my Huawei Watch, but this titanium wearable is quite a bit more expensive, and is the first ever to use an Intel Atom processor inside.
Let's talk about the new watch for a second. The Tag Heuer Connected ticks off a bunch of firsts for Android Wear -- it's the first Android Wear watch to break the $US1000 barrier, and then some. At a retail price of $US1500, the wristable is almost double the price of the second-most expensive Android Wear watch, but compared to the Apple Watch's eye-popping $23,000, it feels almost... affordable?
It's also got the first Intel processor (Z3400 series) inside an Android Wear watch, though many more will be coming over the next year. 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 alone is obviously not worth the asking 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 much more than a muuuuuuch cheaper $US300 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 labelled "Swiss Made" but rather "Swiss Engineered," which means that Switzerland doesn't make wearable processors.
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 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 customisations for Tag Heuer. In the app launcher, the background is now a dark grey instead of a standard white to better match the grey titanium watch casing. The watch also has customisable 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.
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 home screen.
The company is offering several band colours including black, white, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red, each available separately. 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 itgives 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.
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.
While there's no official Australian price tag for the Tag Heuer Connected, you can take a guess from the international pricing of 1500 US dollars, 1350 Euros, 1400 Swiss francs, and 1100 British pounds. We've been told to expect a price around the $2000 mark in Australia, from a couple of different local Tag Heuer stockists.
Weirdly, after the Tag Heuer Connected's two-year warranty runs out, you can take it back to a Tag store and exchange it for "a mechanical Swiss Made Carrera watch, with similar design, also made from grade 2 titanium". That's great if you get sick of Android or if something immeasurably better comes along, but at the same time it doesn't scream confidence in the long-term viability of a smartwatch from one of the world's leading watchmakers. [TAG Heuer / Intel]
TAG Heuer Connected Specs
- OS: Android Wear 1.3 (compatible with Android 4.3+ and iOS 8.2+)
- CPU: Intel Atom processor Z34XX
- Display: 46mm
- Resolution: 360x360 360x360
- Storage: 4GB
- Battery: reported 18-20 hours on average
- Wireless Charging: No
- Wifi: Yes
- Waterproof: No, IP67 water resistance though
- Price: $US1,500
- Available now
- Notable Extras: Two-year warranty, can switch out with a new mechanical watch at the end of the two-year warranty for $US1500.