Luxury empire LVMH, which includes TAG Heuer and which neglected to ever make a connected, digital watch before Apple Watch came onto the scene to scare the bejesus out of the Swiss luxury watch industry, has finally made its first real move.
The TAG Heuer Connected Watch has arrived, described as ‘the first connected watch developed by a Swiss luxury watchmaker, engineered with Intel Inside and powered by Android Wear’, along with the marketing infused tagline #ConnectedToEternity - something that appears to be quite ironic when future versions of Android Wear are unable to run on the device, but presumably isn't beacuse of an offer to swap the watch for a mechnical model after the two-year warranty is over - details at the end of this article.
TAG's new watch was unveiled at press conference at New York’s ’symbolic’ LVMH Tower, and was hosted by top execs: Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer & President of the LVMH Group's Watches Division, Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel Corporation, and David Singleton, VP of Engineering for Android at Google.
Biver announced: “We are incredibly proud to be unveiling the first connected watch, which brings more than 150 years of history firmly into the future. The TAG Heuer Connected watch gives you the means not only to connect to the future, but also to connect to eternity."
Krzanich emphasised: “Intel makes amazing experiences possible with smart, connected technology. Together with TAG Heuer and Google we created a beautiful, intelligent and functional product that harmonizes the latest computing innovation with more than a century of watchmaking experience, timeless aesthetics and supreme quality.”
Singleton agreed: "From Google Search to smartwatches, Google strives to give you the right information, at exactly the right time and place. Android is how we bring this helpful experience to many of the world’s devices. TAG Heuer Connected, powered by Android Wear, is a luxury watch that’s beautiful and incredibly useful. We are thrilled to present it along with TAG Heuer and Intel."
The person who crafted the media release clearly wanted to avoid describing each executive as merely ‘saying’ something, which presumably isn’t the most luxurious way to use one’s voluminous vocabulary.
So, with all this executive quoting and Swiss luxury watch maker back patting, what exactly is the TAG Heuer Connected Watch? Is it ‘just’ an LG or Huawei Android Wear watch but with extra bling and luxury cred? Or is it something more? One thing's for sure - it definitely looks like a very premium, classic watch!
Before we get to LVMH’s luxurious descriptions, let’s get to the facts of the specs - and let's take a look at the TAG Heuer Connected Watch video.
The price is set at US $1500, €1,350, 1,400 Swiss Francs, and 1,100 British Pounds, which is approximately $3 billion Australian dollars, or in reality, at today’s exchange rate, is AUD $2,128.
My guess was that, because luxury is never cheap, this would be raised to AUD $2499, but the TAG Heuer Connected Watch site says the AUD price is $2000.
This is unusual as the 1100 British Pound figure converts to AUD $2359, while AUD $1999 would be US $1408, so a higher price seemed more realistic but there you go.
The watch features an Intel Atom Z34XX processor, has 4G RAM, the promise of ‘all-day battery life’ thanks to a latest-generation lithium battery. The touch-screen is sapphire crystal, a small microphone has been included for Google voice control (something every Android Wear watch offers), continues working with various cloud services when connected to Wi-Fi, and works with any Android phone running Android 4.3 or better, or iOS 8.2 or better.
The ‘centre piece’ - which is the watch itself - has IP67 water resistance.
The watch has a two-year warranty, after which it can, unusually, be swapped for a mechanical watch if so desired, although why anyone would want to return to a mechanical watch after all the benefits of connected timepieces is a luxurious mystery - details of this watch swap are at the end of this article.
Here's the video of the TAG Heuer Conneted Watch:
LVMH’s description is as follows:
“The TAG Heuer Connected Watch with Intel Inside is a luxury watch that benefits from over 150 years of Swiss expertise, savoir-faire and heritage as cultivated by TAG Heuer, a watch manufacture based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking and a UNESCO World Heritage site set at an altitude of 1000 metres, in the middle of Alpine pastures and mountains.
“Here, watchmakers have been spending the winter in their workshops (in summer, they farm in the pastures) since the 18th century, inventing incredible watches, which have built the unique reputation and extraordinary image of quality and exclusivity that Swiss watches enjoy the world over. For more than 150 years, TAG Heuer has been inventing and manufacturing elegant sports watches in the city, including some of the most accurate chronographs produced by the Swiss watch industry.
“At 46 mm in diameter, the design of the TAG Heuer Connected is primarily that of a true chronograph, with a case, back and lugs made from grade 2 titanium, a contemporary material ensuring the watch is lighter and more resistant to impacts than a traditional material such as steel or gold. Completed by a textured black rubber strap (six other colors – red, blue, white, orange, green and yellow - are available, sold separately) with a deploying buckle made of grade 2 titanium as well, it has all the elegance, characteristics and level of finish expected from a fine wristwatch.”
So, how is LVMH going to reinforce the ‘watch DNA’?
LVMH’s luxurious description continues:
“For the first time, TAG Heuer has developed three digital watch dials (known as watch faces), which feature the immediately recognizable design codes of TAG Heuer's Carrera collection, including hands, index, counters, date window and minute track.
“The following will be available from the launch date: the chronograph dial, the 3-hand dial and the GMT dial, all of which display the date and are available in a choice of three colors (black, deep blue or pearl white), faithfully reproducing the appearance and functions of a true dial, with shadows under the hands and the beautiful sunburst effect of the light. And because the TAG Heuer Connected is above all a watch, the digital hands and indexes remain visible at all times, even when the watch is in ambient energy-saving mode.
“Soon, other watch faces will be made available, so you can try one customised by TAG Heuer's ambassadors via the exclusive TAG Heuer app which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.”
So, how will LVMH make this watch ‘even more unique?’
LVMH’s description continues:
“The TAG Heuer Connected is a true watch, both in terms of its appearance, with its watch faces and its minute tracks, but also in its "interactive counters”, thanks to the unique way in which its applications are displayed.
“The principle is simple: the dial and the hands remain, while the most pertinent information from partner applications is elegantly displayed inside the three counters on the chronograph dial at 12, 6 and 9 o'clock, completely integrated into the watch's aesthetic environment.
“What if something shown in a counter really interests you? Touch the counter in question to open and interact with the application in full screen mode.
“Favourite applications, sports updates or alerts… it is easy to use and makes information simple to read, enabling the user to stay focused on the essential, without this spoiling the watch's classic appearance. The apps customised for TAG Heuer and available on an exclusive basis will be, to start with, Insiders (lifestyle), GolfShot Pro (golf), RaceChrono Pro (motor racing) and Viewrangers (trailing), which will be offered with free subscriptions. A specially developed Software Development Kit (SDK) will allow enrichment.
“In addition, TAG Heuer has added the classic functions that are a key part of the watch universe: Timer, Alarm and Stopwatch, the design of which is faithful to the brand's codes.”
The next statement is that the watch is ‘smart’, but the question is, ‘to what extent?’
LVMH’s description continues:
“Living, travelling, getting information, connecting... the TAG Heuer Connected watch is the perfect partner. It brings together the best of both worlds: a magnificent TAG Heuer watch with computing intelligence.
“TAG Heuer worked closely with Intel and Google to create a luxury watch that combined connectivity and computing intelligence with Swiss watchmaking heritage. The watch features an Intel Atom processor Z34XX and runs the Android Wear platform.
“Intel engineered the intelligence inside the watch to optimise performance and enable a multitude of connectivity options including audio streaming, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well as allow users to harness the full range of features offered by the Android Wear operating system.
“With 4 GB of memory, and all day battery life thanks to its latest-generation lithium battery, the TAG Heuer Connected is equipped with a small microphone to communicate with via Google voice control and a sapphire crystal touchscreen - the indispensable complement to the crown at 3 o'clock which also houses controls. The entire piece has been made water resistant for everyday use and is IP67 water resistance rated.
“What if the phone is not with you? No problem. The watch will continue to calculate, display, and exchange data, and as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection it will remain connected to the cloud. Naturally, its resident applications (music, timer, alarm, step counter) remain active even when no connection is available.
“Android Wear opens the watch up to an almost infinite universe, an ecosystem that enriches itself night and day: thousands of Android applications are already available for the TAG Heuer Connected watch user to download. The key applications, currently used by millions, such as Google Fit, Google Translate, Google Maps and Google Search with your voice are already available on the watch, and show you information with just a glance.
“The watch can also be easily synced with a phone running either on Android 4.3+ or iOS 8.2+. It is charged using a contact charger. Simply place the watch on top to recharge it.
“The watch also benefits from a two-year warranty, like other TAG Heuer watches.”
Second-to-last, we get to the part where LVMH is offering to swap it, noting that ‘a connected watch that can also be a timeless gift.’
LVMH says: “Finally anyone who purchases a TAG Heuer Connected watch will have the opportunity to exchange it for a mechanical watch with real Swiss movement inside.
“At the end of the connected watch's two-year warranty period, customers can go to the TAG Heuer store of his or her choice to exchange the TAG Heuer Connected watch for a mechanical Swiss Made Carrera watch. With similar design, also made from grade 2 titanium, this mechanical watch has been exclusively developed and reserved for owners of connected watches.
“The price is set at US $1500, €1,350, 1,400 Swiss Francs, and 1,100 British Pounds.”
Thus, it appears that if you want to swap the old digital watch for a new mechanical watch, you'll be paying the same price again. Why you wouldn't instead put this money into buying a brand new current version of TAG Heuer's Connected watch isn't made clear - but luxury brands operate in universes all their own, where money or the lack of it is no object.
LVMH say that ‘to complete the experience, an online platform that brings all users together.’
“A dedicated online platform tagheuerconnected.com has been created to share the latest new features and obtain the partner applications available for the interactive counters watch faces. The TAG Heuer Connected watch is available for sale right now from the site tagheuer.com and in more than 100 TAG Heuer boutiques and 150 carefully selected retailers across the world. The list of points of sale can be viewed here.”
TAG's watch looks very cool - it looks like a traditional, high class, luxury Swiss Watch - unlike Apple's Watch which was clearly purposefully made to look completely different and new compared to your 'traditional' watch. I expect that, amongst the luxury set, this watch will prove quite popular. I also wonder when $20,000 or $200,000 versions of this watch will appear.
In addition, I can also only wonder if the writer of this Apple Watch article might say, as he did for the Apple Watch: “Be warned – the only compelling reason to buy a TAG Heuer Connected Watch is if you are an LVMH Aficionado a.k.a. Rich Fan Boy with a surfeit of funds who fawns over its very expensive products.’
To be clear, the author of that article did NOT make the above statement about LVMH, only about Apple - I simply took his statement about Apple, renamed Apple Watch to TAG Heuer Connnected Watch, renamed LVMH to Apple and inserted the word 'Rich' in front of Fan Boy.
Dear readers, come to your own conclusions - especially when you consider that if the Apple Watch was no serious threat, LVMH would never have wasted its time (so to speak) on creating a connected timepiece.