Not only is designing a smartwatch difficult from a technical perspective, it's a unique challenge from a design perspective. The tech world wants lighter, thinner, faster, and more battery. If you go look at an actual watch, especially an expensive one, you'll find almost none of them fit this description. Luxury watches are often huge, flashy things that stand out on the wrist and demand to be noticed, not to mention considerably more expensive than your average Android Wear watch.
Last year the folks at Tag Heuer bucked the Android Wear trend with a watch that was expensive by techy standards, but greatly exceeded company sales expectations. In response, the company has doubled down on the luxury part of the Connected line with the ability to swap out many different pieces on the watch body to match your needs. It's called the Connected Modular, and if you were hoping the price was coming down this year you should probably stop reading now.
As specs sheets go, the Tag Heuer Connected Modular isn't going to wow anyone familiar with smartwatches. Like its predecessor, this is an Intel-based watch with a single crown button on the side that doesn't rotate. Unlike its predecessor, there's only 512mb of RAM onboard. The 410mAh battery powers a 287ppi display in a 45mm casing that is 7.5mm thick and can handle water down to 50 meters. There's no heart rate monitor, no barometer, no LTE radio, and the watch itself charges with a magnetic pin dock. You get WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC for Android Pay, and GPS onboard. Oh, and this watch is the first smartwatch to ever be certified as "Swiss Made" to help indicate quality.
Where this watch really gets interesting is in all of the things that aren't underneath the display. As our initial reporting suggested, the Connected Modular separates in several unique positions. The lugs, straps, and buckles on the watch will all be replaceable, with many different options ranging wildly in price. If you decide you'd rather not have Android Wear 2.0 on your wrist for a day, the whole watch body can be swapped out with a special Calibre 5 movement from Tag. There is also a limited tourbillon movement to be available with one of the models available at launch.
It's not all hardware with this watch. Tag has seen the benefit of not only including custom watchfaces with its branding onboard, but making it easy for users to create their own Tag watch face. On top of several unique Tag faces with customizeable options built in to the watch, users will be able to create personalized options in the new Tag Studio app. This app will include many different Tag inspired options, as well as updated later on with pre-set options from Tag Ambassadors like Tom Brady and Mats Hummels. Most of these faces will support the new Android Wear complications feature, so they'll be more than just nice looking on your wrist.
Naturally, these features come with an impressive price tag. The base model of this watch with a rubber strap is going to run you $1,650. There will be other kits available at higher price points with different modular options available, going all the way up to $18,500. And, to appeal to those eager to get their hands on one right now, Tag Heuer has made the watch available starting today. You can head to the Tag Heuer website, or check out your local store and be able to walk out with one on your wrist.
While these watches are unlikely to appeal to the budget focused and tech-obsessed among us, the Connected Modular will appeal greatly to those who collect nice watches and appreciate the ability to appear as though you're wearing many different watches just by swapping core pieces. This particular feature is one notably missing from even the most expensive of Apple Watch variants and is something Tag Heuer is going to be able to do very well.
For those still eager to use the original Tag Heuer Connected, the Android Wear 2.0 update will be rolling out starting today.