When TAG Heuer released its first smartwatch two years ago, it had a price tag of $ 1,800 and was dubbed the most expensive Android Wear device on the market. Still, more than 56,000 people bought it, which is certainly enough reason for the Swiss watchmaker to delve into the smartwatch business once again. And so it has. Say hello to the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45, which is the company’s second Android Wear collaboration between Intel and Google. The starting price is still pretty high at $ 1,650 (£1,400), but the cost might be worth it this time. The reason? The Modular 45 comes with interchangeable parts, which makes the watch a lot more versatile than its predecessor.
What’s more, it’s the watch’s modular nature that makes this the “First Swiss-Made Connected Watch.” That’s because the 45mm smartwatch module can be swapped out with a purely Swiss-Made mechanical option (Either the Calibre 5 or the much more premium Heuer 02T Tourbillon, which TAG Heuer claims has “the most accurate mechanical movements around”) that transforms it into an “ordinary” luxury timepiece. So even if the connected module part of it gets outdated eventually (as it likely will), you’ll still be able to have a high-end TAG Heuer on your wrist just by swapping that module out. And, who knows, maybe TAG Heuer will make future connected watch modules for the same system, making the whole thing wonderfully future-proof.
As mentioned, it’s not just the watch modules that are interchangeable. Pretty much every part of the watch — that includes the straps, the buckles and the lugs — is as well. The core Connected Modular 45 range consists of 11 different designs; the watch module is in either silver or black, while the straps come in rubber, leather, titanium or ceramic, in a slew of different colors. And if that’s not enough, well, TAG Heuer offers 45 additional options, some of which include premium materials like patent leather, rose gold and, yes, diamonds. It all adds up to a grand total of 56 different designs and, according to TAG Heuer, over 500 different design combinations.
Swapping out the different parts of the watch isn’t too difficult, but it does require a bit of finesse. During a hands-on event in San Francisco, I tried assembling and reassembling the watch a few times and it definitely took me several attempts before I finally got it right. The lugs and the central module connect to each other via a couple of pins that snap together, and a push button underneath releases them. The trick was aligning the parts correctly, which is harder to do than it looks. Still, after some trial and error, I did learn how to do it eventually. The cool part is that the parts are all interchangeable without the need for a screwdriver; just use your own two hands.
The Connected Modular 45 watch module is quite a stunner. It has a 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen display, which is a lot sharper than the transflective LCD on its predecessor. It’s covered in 2.5mm sapphire crystal glass and the entire thing is encased in titanium. And, of course, it also comes with a few different TAG Heuer designed watchfaces. Yet, those with smaller wrists might not like it so much. The 45mm watch is really quite bulky on slender arms, and goes against the rumors that it would be more female-friendly. Of course, something like that could come out some time in the future, but for now, the Connected 45 is undeniably on the chunky side.
As for the insides, the watch is comparable to most modern smartwatches. It has an Intel Atom Z34XX processor, 4GB of memory, WiFi, GPS, is water resistant to 50 meters and boasts more than 24 hours of battery life. It also ships with Android Wear 2.0 baked right in, which means simpler navigation, NFC support so you can use it with Android Pay, third-party complications and a standalone app store, so you can use it with an iPhone as well.
As mentioned above, the Connected Modular 45 will start at $ 1,650, but of course, additional options will cost extra. If you opt for the top-of-the-line accessories and add-ons, it’s very likely you’ll be spending thousands more. Still, the cost is very much on par with other non-connected luxury timepieces, and even those aren’t as modular as the Modular 45. So if you think of it as a modern Android Wear wearable disguised as a versatile Swiss-made watch, that might make the cost easier to swallow.
We’ll have more thoughts on the watch once we get our review unit, but for now, you can get your own in the following regions: US, UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
UPDATE: CEO Jean-Claude Biver has confirmed that Android Wear 2.0 will be coming to the original Connected watch at the end of the month as well.