Today we have a time line rundown of some major announcements in the luxury watch/ smart watch world over the past last week, namely :
1. TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45
2. Movado partners with Google for the Movado Connect
3. Swatch Group AG to develop new watch operating system
4. Montblanc announces Android smart watch
TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 Watch
The update of the highly successful TAG Connected, this is a new customisable (apparently some 4,000 configurations are possible) Swiss Made smart watch with two – mechanical and electronic, heads that can be swapped back and forth. The electronic module is to be made at La Chaux-de-Fonds along with the case and some other parts. As per the original model, it uses Intel (Atom processor Z34XX) with Google Android Wear 2.0 as the OS.
The screen has been upgraded from the TAG Connected and has an AMOLED display. To access functions there is of course the rotating crown. Inside is a lithium battery with 24 hours of active power. It can use stand-alone apps when your smart phone is not nearby and can connect online via wi-fi. It has Android Pay.
The TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 is water resistant to 50m and has an in-built GPS.
Customisation has been a popular theme in the luxury world in the last few years, and in its latest branching into the broader watch industry, TAG Connected 45 buyers will be able to select five case materials (aluminium, ceramic, rose gold, diamond, steel), strap (eighteen variants), buckle (black PVD or titanium), dial details, lugs that are diamond-embellished, titanium, rose gold, ceramic…With fifty six versions available at launch (eleven in stores and forty-five online), there is an entire ‘Connected Watch Studio’ devoted to this.
At 45mm the new TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 smart watch is smaller than the original, as it says on the label, with the mechanical and electronic modules attaching to the lugs. To start with, the mechanical head offering will have the automatic Calibre 5 movement on it, with the Calibre 02T Tourbilon an option and others to follow.
The starting price of £1,400, with modifications as additional costs. Both the electronic and mechanical head modules have two years warranties and the strap, buckle, lugs, and charger, a one year warranty each.
Out of the box, the watch is compatible with Google’s Android Wear 2. The operating system means it is possible to use the watch with an iPhone, speak to Google’s Assistant, and use Android Pay. The new TAG connected watch will also work when not connected to a phone and transmit data via Wi-Fi when it is possible.
TAG says it has additionally built a companion app to work with the watch to select new dials and faces. The company has developed 30 watch dials that can be set on the watch’s main screen.
As well as the Connected Modular 45, TAG also has plans to release a smaller watch that will be more suitable for those with smaller wrists, to be launched in October 2017. It will be 39.45mm and although they say it is will be targeted at women, there are more than a few men who may prefer wearing this size over the 45mm.
Oh and if the modular system of changing over from mechanical to smart and back again sounds familiar then you may be thinking of Halda, which has been making watches using this system for a number of years now. My personal Halda favourite is the Space Discovery.
Movado Group has announced an upcoming line of own-branded smart watches compatible with Android Wear 2.0, which they will launch at Baselworld 2017.
Known as ‘Movado Connect’, the launch will involve five styles with a starting price of USD495 that will available in America, the Caribbean, Canada and the U.K. There will be five dials inspired by the Movado Museum dial, but able to be customised (backgrounds, hands, complications).
It will be compatible with both Android and iOS, have access to thousands of apps including Android Pay, Google Assistant, an ‘always-on’ display, and fitness tracking.
The Movado Group is also responsible for watches under the Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss brand names, so it is no surprise that these brands will also partner with Google on their own respective collections this year.
Swatch Group AG’s new operating system
In a radical move, the Swatch Group have announced two developments – an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smart watches, and a bluetooth chip development, but first things first.
It is forecast that at the end of 2018 Tissot will introduce a new watch model using this new operating system that will be ‘Swiss Made’ and able to connect to small objects and wearables. Why Tissot? Well the brand has been adding in electronic functions into pieces already.
As well as this, Swatch AG announced that it has developed the world’s smallest Bluetooth chip for use in watches and household objects.
The development of a completely new proprietary operating system is a bold one, not only just because of the current market dominance situation, but also because of how most seem wedded to the ones they are using already. Swatch AG have said that they will be willing to supply third parties with the new OS, which has been developed with the assistance of the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology.
Hot on the heels of the Swatch news a a mere two days after TAG Heuer launched its Connected Modular 45, Montblanc announced its first first foray into smart watch, the Montblanc Summit. A clear progression from the Montblanc e-strap, like TAG the Montblanc runs Android Wear 2.0 and is customisable.
The desire of watch brands to make electronic versions that still look like a traditional watch continues here, with Montblanc’s 1858 being the inspiration behind the new Summit. The dial faces include electronic versions of the 1858 Automatic with date, and the small seconds and chronograph models, along with two Timewalker Urban Speed faces – automatic and chronograph.
The aim is vintage styling (the 1858 is reproduced in electronic form on the AMOLED display, along with a pusher in the design of the 1858 crown) with modern functionality, and this even extends to the slightly curved sapphire glass atop the dial display.
Inside the 46mm case are as mentioned, the Android-Wear 2.0 OS (it is compatible with both Android and iOS) Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor chip, 512MB of RAM and 4GB storage. There is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, but no NFC for Android Pay, and no GPS.
The Montblanc Summit has a full round touchscreen display and microphone (no speaker) where users can ask Google Assistant for help performing tasks such as setting reminders or dictating emails. The Summit will also offer ‘smart replies’ using the keyboard, swiping, handwriting and voice messages, as well as a microphone for voice commands. There is also to be voice-activated translator with a multitude of languages.
In addition, there will be step and activity trackers, a gyroscope and compass for orientation, a barometer, and an ambient light sensor to adapt the brightness of the watch’s screen according to lighting conditions. The user can access apps in the Google Play Store, as well as its own dedicated app store.
On the rear of the watch is an integrated heart-rate monitor alongside a sports watch face that shows daily fitness progress in the shape of a summit. Montblanc has partnered with Runtastic, which comes pre-loaded onto each Summit, to let wearers more accurately monitor their heart and keep track of fitness goals.
Model-wise, there will be the choice of stainless steel, PVD-coated stainless steel, bi-colour stainless steel (black PVD-coated bezel) and Grade 5 Titanium case options. Strap wise, it’s 22mm and there will be a choice of eight, from a rubber NATO in various colours to something from the Montblanc Pelletteria. Strap changing will not require any special tools – it uses spring bars. For those thinking about the rubber NATO, the Summit will be certified for an IP68 water resistance.
The Summit starts at a lower price than Tag’s new wearable but not by all that much. If you like the look and feel of the Summit, then make it your next wearable, otherwise the LG Watch Sport is the next best option, as whatever it lacks in aesthetics, prestige and reputation it makes up for in packing superior hardware and NFC for Android Pay, a notable omission on Montblanc’s new device.
Montblanc say that the Summit has more than 300 different wearable combinations, and you can get a bespoke dial. The watch is priced at €890. Those who have noticed Montblanc’s highly competitive pricing during the course of its stewardship by Jérôme Lambert will not be surprised to hear that the starting price will be lower than that for the new TAG Connected Modular 45, but with smart watches functionality is critical, and there is variance here.
May 2017 is the Montblanc month to note in your diaries if you live in Australia, the U.S. Or U.K., with its availability in other markets to follow.