Hands on: TAG Heuer smartwatch review

Now available in the UAE, we strapped the TAG Heuer Connected to our wrist to see if it's worth the price.

Meryl D'Souza June 5, 2016

It's been a long three and a half months since TAG Heuer first unveiled its Connected smartwatch in the Middle East, at the Doha Watches Exhibition. Now available in the UAE, we spent the last week with the watch to see if it meets expectations. 

Here’s the problem with the Tag Heuer Connected: it starts at AED 5,500. That’s about AED 4,000 more than both the Samsung Gear S2 and the Apple Watch.

And what does it do really? It tells time, shows you a few notifications and tracks the number of steps you take in a day. Basically, everything an average smartwatch is supposed to do. Such a waste, right? Wrong.

Think about your mechanical watches. What do those things do? Tell the time. Which is basically what every watch in the world does anyway. So why shell out on designer watches that cost a fortune? Because it’s a status symbol. You’re not just buying a watch, you’re buying into a new level of society. 

In most aspects, Tag Heuer’s Connected falls flat when you compare it to the two biggest smartwatch brands on the market. The Connected does not come with GPS like the Gear S2 or a heart rate monitor like the Apple Watch. Tag Heuer’s Connected doesn’t want you to take it to the gym or for a jog in the evening. This smartwatch would rather go to places where you put on your finest suit.

Tag Heuer has been making mechanical watches for over 150 years, but when the time came to dive into the smartwatch industry to create the world’s first luxury Swiss connected watch, it chose to bring in Silicon Valley giants Google and Intel. 

Perhaps it’s because they’re outside the technology game that Tag noticed this shortcoming but keeping in mind the fact that every gadget is considered dated after a span of two years, Tag lets you trade the Connected in for a mechanical Carrera watch for another AED 5,500.

Until then the Connected will remain your go-to dress smartwatch. The 46mm carbide-coated, grade 2 titanium bezel beast swallows your wrist. It’s distinctly masculine and not for dainty wrists. The one thing that takes you by surprise though is that despite being so chunky, it remains incredibly light.

Many tech honchos will have you believe that the screen is a bit of a let down. They’ll cite that the Connected comes with a lesser pixel per inch density when compared to the Huawei Watch and other watches that use the Android Wear OS. But the transflective display works perfectly well. Even in its low power state.

The highlight of the watch though is its looks. The Connected doesn’t look like a digital device on your hand. It looks like a timepiece. The sapphire crystal screen fends off scratches very well, but doesn’t do a great job with fingerprints.

That’s not specifically a gripe with the Connected. All smartwatches are adamant on showing off your smudgy fingerprints. The reason it bugged us so much with Tag is because you always want a good-looking watch to stay that way, like a good pair of sneakers.

The Connected’s custom watch faces are by far the best we've seen - with an incredible attention to detail that Tag fans, in particular, will love. There's shadows under the hands, smooth skimming second hands, an ubiquitous array of dials with traditional Tag colours. The Swiss watchmaker clearly wanted its first digital dive to respect its traditional timepiece roots. 

We’ve mentioned that the Connected already uses Android Wear. On the face of it, the OS is not different to any other watch using that software. But somehow, Tag and Intel have managed to optimise Google’s OS. Unlike the other Android Wear watches, there are no lags in this one.

Connected users will have access to Google’s 4000-strong bank of apps, but it will all be muted and less in your face. Tag believes that a luxury smartwatch should be subtle and just because it’s a smartwatch doesn’t mean you get to compromise on the look of a timepiece. As always, for Tag, looks are everything.