[dropcap size=small]L[/dropcap]et’s face it: if you are used to high-quality, Swiss-made wristwatches, the average smartwatch doesn’t look like much – a black plastic slab with a nice trim, tops.
That void is what Tag Heuer is hoping to fill with its own smartwatch debut, the Tag Heuer Connected. The watchmaker best known for its Carrera and Monaco models went to town with this one: The Connected sports a proper 46mm titanium case, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and an engraved and lacquered bezel.
The default strap is made of vulcanised rubber – a nod to Tag Heuer’s sports heritage – but the clasp is wrought from titanium for durability. These features, combined with the always-on display that’s woefully absent from the Apple Watch, would fool the unaware into thinking you’ve got a mechanical piece on. The surprise factor alone could be worth the $2,100 asking price – which, by the way, makes this the world’s most expensive wearable to date.
The enjoyment begins once you get past the 15-minute setup process that involves fiddling with your smartphone (running on iOS or Android) to pair the devices and update the software. You’ll spend at least five more picking your watch face, as there are over a dozen pre-loaded choices and another few hundred for free on the app market.
After a brief learning period, you’ll be able to use touch controls, wrist flicks or intuitive voice commands to multitask, like sending Whatsapp messages via speech while driving, or discreetly reading e-mail headers during lulls in board meetings. A handy step tracker comes standard, although a heart rate monitor is a missed opportunity.
Most of these functions depend on a constant Bluetooth connection with your phone, so budget for an extra 10 per cent of juice daily. But the watch itself lasts for about 36 hours on a single charge, impressive by current standards.
However, the screen is a fingerprint magnet, and at 240ppi resolution, can appear fuzzy against Apple’s 362ppi. Its hardiness is just as advertised, surviving two weeks of daily usage and multiple bumps against hard surfaces with nary a scratch.
Where Tag Heuer solidly bucks the trend is the acknowledgement that its wearable, like any piece of electronics, will eventually become obsolete. To remedy this, it has designed a mechanical Carrera exclusively for Connected owners for trade-in, once the two-year warranty period is up – at a top-up price of around $2,000.
By then, its next smartwatch iteration should be available for fans of this first model to purchase, and they’ll have a future-proof mechanical piece to commemorate the first.