The day the new Tag Heuer Connected watch was announced, we stopped by a Manhattan warehouse to check it out. We slipped on the priciest model of this fitness watch, the one with a titanium body which retails for $2,300 (around £1,867 / AU$3,742), and we immediately wondered who it was for.
This is far from the first smartwatch from a luxury brand to hit the market – the Montblanc Summit 2, for instance, came out a year ago – but there’s a fitness edge to the new Tag Heuer Connected that seems at odds with vigorous exercise. Those who work out typically don wearables that are sportier instead of fashion-focused.
And make no mistake, the Tag Heuer Connected is a fashionable timepiece, whether you opt for the burnished titanium, or the less pricey steel model (which still costs $1,800). Both feel like exact, precise accessories that look sharp when paired with a shirt or suit, as its 45mm watch face width, dense dial and heft are coded to a more traditionally masculine fashion – but don’t let us dissuade you, either model will complement any classy outfit.
That’s partially due to the interchangeable wristbands, available for $100 (around £86 / AU$173) a pop – including ones made of rubber meant for more active lifestyles and exercise. We didn’t get a chance to try it out under actual workout pressure, but the band is more pliable than other rubber types.
But the real challenge to make an exercise-friendly luxury smartwatch is in the body. Unlike the Montblanc Summit 2, which we tested and felt was top-heavy to the point of weighing down our wrist, the Tag Heuer Connected’s weight is more evenly distributed, so it would probably be less of a pain while running.
But... it might drag down your wrist while exercising. At its lightest configuration – with titanium case and rubber watchband – the Connected weighs 86g, which is twice as heavy as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (42g). Heck, even the clunky Samsung Galaxy Watch is 63g. And if you’re opting for the less pricey steel case version of the Connected, it’s even heavier, starting at 108g with a rubber strap.
In other words, it might be uncomfortable to do a lot of session training – but for a swift jog or cycling jaunt across town, the Connected should be fine. It’s even water-resistant up to 5 meters if you want to wear it while taking laps around the pool. To access any sports mode, hit the top button above the crown.
What it’s best for is golf, because this smartwatch is an evolution of the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Golf Edition and kept all its neat tricks. Chief among them is a specific mode on both the watch as well as on the paired smartphone app that will give you info about where you’re playing, as Tag Heuer has uploaded over 38,000 golf courses to its app.
The remaining fitness modes pack the essentials, like running and cycling. There’s also a catch-all ‘exercise’ mode, which essentially tracks heart rate and duration, though more modes are coming: the Tag Heuer team back at its Switzerland HQ is set to add exercises as owners demand them.
So unless you’re keen on stepping off the bike and into a fancy dinner, we assume this won’t be a fitness watch, or a watch for the terribly fitness-inclined.
Those who persist in exercising with the Connected, however, will find other nice touches – like a stopwatch mode carefully designed to imitate the analog stopwatches that Tag Heuer built its business on, items that early car speedsters used to time their laps. On the new watch, just hit the button below the crown to access it.
The new Connected is as powerful as smartwatches get, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, a 430mAh capacity that Tag Heuer claims lasts all day, and a standard version of Wear OS. And despite having much the same internals as the Samsung Galaxy Watch, which debuted in 2018, the Connected feels much more fine-tuned with smoother transitions and animations.
It also has GPS and heart-rate monitoring via sensors on the underside of the case. That’s about standard. What isn’t, of course, is the cost - and given the Samsung Galaxy Watch costs about $279 / £279 / AU$499 at full price, which is roughly 15% of the TAG Heuer’s price, there’s a particular buyer out there for whom the latter watch is appealing. It’s not for the masses, but boy will it look good alongside whoever wears it on a svelte date.
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David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.