Smart or analog? Connected functionality or classic good looks? As far as your watch is concerned it’s very difficult to have it all in one package. TAG Heuer’s new Connected smartwatch is the Swiss watchmaker’s latest try at bridging the gap between 20th and 21st-century watch technology, and it’s their best attempt yet.
The most striking thing about the new Google Wear OS-powered Connected is its size — a 45mm case diameter that would be a challenge to fit under most shirt cuffs. What you get for this tradeoff, however, is a big, bright OLED touchscreen protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with a resolution of 454×454 pixels (326 ppi) (the same as the Apple Watch 5). The Connected’s large size also hints at its intended purpose: TAG Heuer makes lots of analog watches that look great with a suit. This one is designed with athletic performance in mind.
TAG Heuer is a ubiquitous presence in the world of sports like Formula 1, golf and tennis, and the new Connected is likewise made for action. Despite its large size, the Connected’s available titanium case in full black PVD (the other two available cases are steel) makes it lightweight enough to wear on the links or the tennis court. A custom-built sports tracking app with GPS and HR sensors is designed specifically with golf, running and cycling in mind, collecting metrics on distance, duration, pace and speed, HR and calories, and offering haptic feedback and overviews of your progress over a week, a month or a year. While its 30 mAh battery is optimized for a one-hour sports session, the battery can also support up to six hours of constant sports tracking using GPS, heart-rate monitoring and music.
The most impressive thing about the Connected, however, might not be its functionality — but its feel. Rather than funnelling all of the smartwatch’s input through its touchscreen, it takes inspiration from analog watches with a rotating bezel, two pushers and a traditional winding crown that doubles as a third button. Not only does this allow for the familiar experience of operating a mechanical watch, it also makes the connected much easier to use while you’re running or swimming.
The Connected also offers standard smartwatch features like GPS, email alerts and Google Pay, plus novelties like a microphone for using Google Translate. All of that is great, but it can hardly compete with the style factor of an analog watch for daily wear (and really, how often are you going to use Google Translate on your wrist?) Keep your Carrera or Monaco for the 9-5; this is a Swiss watch that deserves a place in your after-hours wardrobe.