TAG Heuer thinks it has the answer for those looking to sample the new world of wearable computing without giving up their analogue pleasures. The Connected Watch melds Swiss engineering and style with quality materials, contemporary technology and, most importantly of all for the uncertain, there’s option of exchanging it for a Swiss made Carrera watch at the end of the two-year warranty period.
For the most part, the Swiss watch industry has been lagging behind in the burgeoning smart watch market, evoked unwanted memories of when the country stumbled at the end of the 80s, steamrollered by the Japanese dominance of affordable quartz watches and the sudden explosion in demand for the new cutting edge digital watches. Back then, Swatch stepped in to save the day but so far there has been no digital equivalent.
There’s certainly a distinct void in the middle ground. While small-scale bespoke manufacturers are springing up to provide conventional analogue watches with an emphasis on design and distinction (Uniform Wares, Paulin or Tsovet spring to mind, amongst others), there’s a tech-focused hole in the market that Apple, Samsung and others are rushing to fill, with even high end versions finding willing buyers.
The fight back has begun. Breitling and Frederique Constant have added connectivity to conventional watches and Gucci is readying its Smartband. However, TAG’s new offering is the first true Samsung Gear and Apple Watch rival. The TAG Heuer Connected Watch with Intel Inside (to give it its full title) is an Android Wear device that makes explicit links to TAG’s 150 year heritage. Conventional smart watches struggle in the absence of any true watch-making heritage, and the plethora of tastelessly fancy watch faces available to download would make any true horologist blanche.
TAG has an instantly recognisable aesthetic, so it makes sense to stay with tradition. The Connected Watch has three familiar faces; the chronograph dial, the 3-hand dial and the GMT dial. Crucially, the Connected Watch is ‘always on’ – with hands and selected information staying illuminated at all times. Upgrades and apps – this is an Android device, remember – are supplied via a dedicated TAG website, while the case and strap are lavished with an attention to detail that shows up functional simplicity of its rivals. The company is certainly hoping a new generation of buyers will hedge their bets and switch.