Tag Heuer Connected Is Android Wear’s $1,500 Luxury Smartwatch
Google first intimated its high-end intentions for Android Wear months ago, at Baselworld, the watch industry’s premier event. That promise is now reality. The Tag Heuer Connected is a bet that an Android smartwatch can fetch a four-figure sum—with no rose gold in sight.
What does the $1,500 get you in a Tag Heuer Connected that less stratospherically priced Android Wear timepieces won’t? Premium materials, mostly; a titanium case, a 46mm sapphire crystal display with 240ppi resolution (shy of the Apple Watch’s 290ppi, but still strong), heavy duty water resistance, and a “textured rubber” strap that comes in seven colors.
You also get a watch that’s recognizably Tag Heuer; the Connected’s design was inspired by the company’s Carrera Calibre line, which includes analog specimens that command several times the price of the Connected. Even the watchfaces fall in line, modeled as they are after Tag Heuer’s “most iconic looks.” Your mileage will vary based on familiarity with Tag Heuer’s looks, and your interpretation of “iconic.”
Tag Heuer’s also not the only interesting partner putting in work here. While Google has provided the Android Wear brain, Intel has chipped in the guts. That’s previously been a job left to Qualcomm, which sits inside the majority of Android Wear watches on the market today. For now it’s probably best to think of Intel’s 1.6GHz dual core processor as a footnote; it’s not clear so far what kind of performance differences, if any, the change might entail.
As for that performance, it’s about what you would expect from an Android smartwatch, regardless of the hardware pedigree. Aside from those custom watchfaces and a smattering of Tag Heuer-developed apps (which it calls “microapplications”), the Connected is fully compatible with Android Wear, and comes equipped with wind and weather monitoring, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a microphone into which you can shout your commands. It’s got 4GB of storage, and a healthy 1GB of RAM. Its 410mAh battery is big for its class—the Apple Watch weighs in at less than half that, though size doesn’t account for everything. And yes, like other Android Wear watches, it’s iOS-compatible, though you may run into minor limitations here and there with an iPhone that you wouldn’t with an Android handset. Cross-platform functionality’s always a little bit frumpy.
Selling an Android Wear smartwatch for $1,500 might sound ambitious on its face, but perhaps less so given how quickly the nascent market has already evolved. The rose gold Apple Watch Edition, after all, fetches up to $17,000, while the recently released Huawei Watch costs to $450 for its premium build. And regardless, the smartwatch market is still young enough that it’s worth testing all ends of it.
If you’ve been waiting for a legitimately luxurious Android Wear watch, you’ve finally got one to throw your money at. More importantly, though, you may soon have a lot more. Intel, Tag Heuer, and Google all now know how to work with each other. They’ve learned how to take Android Wear upscale. What comes next? Finding out if customers will go there as well.