Tag Heuer has announced the third generation of its Connected Wear OS smartwatch, with the goal of improving both the “smart” and the “watch” halves of the product. Changes include new sensors that make the third-gen Connected watch more useful for fitness and sport tracking, along with new design updates like a ceramic bezel, screwed caseback, mechanical buttons, and a higher-resolution screen.
Better known for its luxury mechanical watches, Tag Heuer has been one of the major watchmaking brands that has tried to embrace smartwatches at the same time. With prices starting at $1,800 ($200 more than the old model) for the new third-gen watch and reaching $2,350, the Connected is an interesting product that exists somewhere between cheaper smartwatches and the world of luxury timepieces.
Unlike the previous Tag Heuer Connected watches, which were sold as “modular” hardware that could have components like the lugs or even the digital module replaced with a traditional mechanical movement, the new Connected watch is a lot less ambitious in that regard. There are no customizable or replaceable components on the new model — you just pick the material, color, and strap options, and that’s your watch.
Additionally, Tag Heuer is nixing the program that allowed customers to trade in their smartwatches for a mechanical model down the line when the digital gadgets became obsolete.
It looks more like a watch
While that may be a bit disappointing, the advantage is that by building the new third-gen Connected model as a single cohesive unit, the end result is slimmer, more stylish, and overall just looks more like a watch and less like a science project. Tag Heuer says that the design of the case here is modeled after its classic Carrera watches, and it’s a big improvement over the chunkier designs of previous models.
Additionally, Tag Heuer was able to make the watch physically smaller by hiding the antennas underneath that new ceramic bezel, as well as by putting the screen closer to the sapphire glass. The stainless steel and titanium cases are still a 45mm case, though. (Tag Heuer has yet to say whether it’ll be releasing a smaller 41mm case later on, like it did with the second-generation model.) The OLED panel is also still 1.39 inches in diameter, although the resolution has been bumped up from 400 x 400 pixels to 454 x 454.
The third-generation Connected watch isn’t just about looks, though. Tag Heuer is also making a number of changes internally to its smartwatch platform that should make it a better smartwatch. There’s the bump in screen resolution, as noted before, and a new USB-C-based charging puck, but the bigger changes come in the form of a variety of new sensors. While the older models offered GPS connectivity, the new model adds heart rate, compass, accelerometer, and gyroscopic sensors for far better fitness and sports tracking.
Qualcomm’s 3100 processor is getting old
Also new is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 chipset, replacing the Intel-made chips that powered the last two generations. While the 3100 is definitely on the older side — Qualcomm introduced it in the fall of 2018 — it’s still the newest Wear OS chip available (something that speaks volumes about the state of Android smartwatches in general). Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that the useful life span of the Tag Heuer Connected will pale in comparison to the company’s traditional watches.
All those sensors go toward a new fitness tracking app designed by Tag Heuer that will support golf, running, cycling, and more. Activity from the watch can be synced to the companion app and then shared with services like Strava, Apple Health, or Google Fit. Notably, the new Tag Heuer app will replace Google’s default Fit tile, with additional custom Tag apps for timer and stopwatch that will also replace the Wear OS defaults.
The added sport features here put the Tag Heuer Connected on par with other smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa 2, but the key for the company is that they’re experiences that customers can’t get on any mechanical watches.
Tag Heuer says that it worked with Google to improve connectivity, and is also introducing a new app for customization of watchfaces and features. The company is debuting a range of new watchfaces for the updated model that are designed to expand beyond the traditional watch look, although there will still be always-on options and designs that mimic Tag Heuer’s mechanical lineups for those who prefer a more traditional look.
Notably missing is an option for LTE connectivity (Tag Heuer says that the antennas necessary would have made the watch too thick) and any sort of speaker or microphone. There’s also no sleep tracking — while the watch offers a slightly bigger 430mAh battery, the company still expects that users will have to charge it overnight.
The new Tag Heuer Connected is available from the company’s website in a variety of case, strap, and bracelet options ranging from $1,800 to $2,350. Additional straps and bracelets range between $100 to $490 dollars in various metal and rubber options, with plans for leather straps in the future.