Earlier this year during Baselworld 2015 Jean-Claude Biver made an announcement that somehow managed to be the talk of the town despite there not being an actual timepiece to look at. A collaboration between TAG Heuer, Google and Intel, you can read the original announcement here.
A few months later he conducted an interview with German Daily Handelsblatt during which he revealed a price point and shared some other thoughts including how he great he thinks the Apple Watch is.
So now we are into November and TAG Heuer has finally launched the actual watch, called the TAG Heuer Connected. The price is USD1,500/ 1,350 EUR/ 1,400 CHF/ 2,000 AUD and the design is the Carrera on the outside and Intel and Google inside for the ‘smart’ operating system bit (Android Wear). A safe solid design choice.
Of course the dial can be customised to your liking in a variety of colours and these choices will expand over time. Customisation being increasingly an important word in the luxury market nowadays, you can choose from seven strap colours (black, white, yellow, green, red, blue, orange). The strap is rubber, weighs 29g, and has a titanium deployant.
The TAG Heuer Connected comes with a built-in stopwatch, timer, and alarm (no GPS) but you can then go to Google Play, where you can Android Wear apps to download. There are also exclusive apps for TAG Heuer.
It has the usual touch screen operability along with voice and movement activation. The screen is a 1.5in fully circular transflective LTPS LCD display with a screen resolution of 360×360, 240ppi.
Inside is a 1.6GHz dual core processor (500mHz normal operation speed) and it has 1GB main memory and 4GB storage memory. There’s a gyroscope, tilt detection sensor, microphone (but no speaker) and the haptic engine of course. As for the all important connectivity : Android 4.3+ / iOS 8.2+.
The battery is 410mAh with about a 25 hours battery life, charged via a cradle with a USB cable and wall plug.
As has been noted by tech writers in particular, the TAG Connected runs the same Android Wear as timepieces from Motorola, LG, Samsung and Huawei amongst others, so in terms of functionality there are options. What you are paying for is the TAG name/ case, dial design and perhaps the Intel processor.
So to these dial designs or ‘faces’. There are three options now (a three-hander, chronograph and GMT) and they are designed to look like watches, with a ‘shadow’ feature that makes the hands look more 3D. The dial colours are black, a dark blue, or pearl white. The hands and indices remain visible at all times, even in energy-saving mode. There is also what they call “interactive counters” (see video below) – three circles that give quick access to information from apps and services, accessed via a tap.
However, the size of this new wristwear may be a challenge for many. At 46mm it is titanium, which helps somewhat in terms of weight, but it’s still a big watch. Thickness is 12.8mm and the weight, 52g. The Ti Grade 2 case has horizontal and vertical brushed lugs, “TAG Heuer Connected” engraved, a black sandblasted and carbide-coated bezel, and a Ti crown with the TAG shield.
The Connected Watch will have a two-year warranty. At the end of the warranty period when it has probably reached its obsolescence as a piece of wearable tech you have the option of paying another USD1,500 to exchange it for a special Carrera with a similar design to the Connected. This hints at it being a piece of wristwear that is intended to be disposable. What does this ‘trade’ offer mean for any subsequent Connected model?
Is this a watch? Wearable tech? It is interesting to note the terminology that has been used : Jean-Claude Biver has referred to it as a “connected watch” whereas David Singleton, Vice President of Engineering for Android at Google, has called it “a luxury watch”. A thing to mull on – many (not all) definitions of a ‘smartwatch’ indicate the pre-requisite of GPS, which the TAG Heuer Connected doesn’t have.
It is now available in the U.S. from boutiques, authorised dealers and at their dedicated site. It will be arriving in Australia at the end of November with an RRP of $2,000.