After Tag Heuer’s surprising, yet relatively successful entry into the smartwatch market last year with the smartwatch, we were very excited to see what the Swiss watchmaker had up its sleeve for the second generation.
Whereas other Swiss brands, such as Mondaine and Frederique Constant, have dipped their toes into the wearable pool by adding step and sleep tracking to their pieces, Tag jumped in at the deep end by releasing a touchscreen Android Wear smartwatch.
At first, the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45, looks very similar to its predecessor. It features an improved screen and better build quality, but most interestingly, something we haven’t seen in mainstream smartwatches before: modularity.
Nearly everything about the Modular 45 can be changed – you can even swap the main Connected watch module for a mechanical one (more on that later).
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 price
The Connected Modular 45 still sits at the top end of the market, with a price tag befitting its luxury brand label.
The basic models will start at $1,650 (£1,400 / AU$2,300), and rise up to around $6,750 (£5,700, AU$9,500) for more premium models.
Is the Connected Modular 45 worth the big bucks? We’ve gone hands-on to find out.
Design and display
The Connected Modular 45 looks very similar to the previous version, but the updated model feels more premium. Whereas the original connected features a cheap plastic back, the Modular 45’s case is entirely metal. It’s also weightier, 62.5g vs 52g, which again, makes it feel more premium.
The screen as also received a significant upgrade (the original’s screen was dull and low resolution). The Connected display now features a vibrant AMOLED display that’s 1.39 inches in diameter with a 400 x 400 pixel resolution.
It’s a big improvement, and although it’s not quite as clear as the Apple Watch Series 2 or Samsung Galaxy Gear S3, we certainly don’t have any complaints.
The ‘45’ in the name refers to the watch’s diameter. It’s a chunky piece, measuring 13.75mm thick. That means it’s suited to larger wrists, but the sporty styling makes it look intentional, similar to a Garmin Fenix 3.
Okay, so the most notable design feature is its modularity. Tag Heuer claims there are over 4,000 options available in the online configurator, which will enable you to design a watch that matches your style.
Almost everything on the watch can be customized, including the lugs, buckle, case material, bezel colour, and, of course, the strap.
These options range from standard titanium cases and rubber straps up to more luxurious rose gold and diamond-encrusted bezels.
After you’ve ordered your ‘starter’ watch, there’s nothing stopping you from adding more modules to your collection over time.
Everything has been very well designed, making it easy to swap elements in and out quickly.
Tag is also offering mechanical modules, which are compatible with all of your existing straps and lugs, just in case you get fed up with the Connected piece.
There will be several mechanical options, including a COSC-certified tourbillon (which will set you back somewhere in the region of $17,000 / £14,000 / AU$22,000).
We think this is a very astute move by Tag. The Apple Watch (best-selling smartwatch, by far) was “the most personal product [Apple] ever made”.
Modularity takes this to the next level, and it’s a crucial aspect that previous Android Wear watches have overlooked, although it’s worth noting that previous modular products haven’t been all that successful – see the LG G5 and Google Project Ara.
Specs and performance
As a tech product, the Connected module is solid. It’s powered by Intel’s Atom Z34XX processor, has 512MB RAM and 4GB storage. There’s a 410mAh battery on board with should last around 24 hours.
There’s also NFC, GPS and Wi-Fi (but no heart rate sensor) all packaged up inside a case which is waterproof to 50 meters (matching the Apple Watch Series 2).
It’ll arrive running Android Wear 2.0, which is a decent update to Google’s wearable OS, but still lags behind its competitors.
Tag will be releasing a dedicated app and watch faces, so it’ll be interesting to see if this improves the experience.
We came away very impressed by our initial time with the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45. It builds brilliantly on the solid foundations of the first generation, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best Android Wear watches out there.
That said, it should be, because with prices starting at $1,650 (£1,400 / AU$2,300) it’s also one of the most expensive – although that didn’t seem to hamper the success of the first generation.
The big question, though, is whether consumers be confident buying into a modular system when the wearable market seems to be in decline. Only time will tell.