TAG Connected 45

Launched in Switzerland last March, the TAG Connected 45 gets an official release today in the UAE. We were at the launch in Switzerland and TAG CEO Jean-Claude Biver was hugely excited about this one. Sure, he’s excited about everything, but this watch could be something of a game changer – the middle ground between mechanical and smartwatch.

Made in Switzerland it’s engineered in collaboration with Intel and by now you probably know most of the things it offers. It features GPS, an NFC sensor for payments, you can call an Uber from one of the apps, there’s a Google assistant, you can read your texts, and a high definition AMOLED screen and a wide selection of unlimited customizable TAG Heuer dials. And it’s that last thing that has excited lots of people.

The idea is a watch where you can change the design and colour of the watch face from a huge range of options. Because while the Apple watch can do all the smartwatch things, it sadly looks like an Apple watch, while here you have access to a range of TAG watch faces with such high-res graphics that it looks like you’re wearing a mechanical watch, but with digital interaction.

Here’s one of the faces, and you can see that the option has been set to show how many steps the wearer has done that day.

Here’s the interface working as a tool to control your music…

And your GPS..

But it’s not just the digital faces that you change, the part of the watch are interchangeable as well. Various straps can totally transform your TAG 45 from something sporty to a watch for the office and the main body can be interchanged – or upgraded – so you can drop in a mechanical tourbillon that the brand have been making since 1801 or use the new smartwatch. This got Jean-Claude really excited…

“We can have 1801 and connected in the same watch! We have the past and the future in one watch!”

He’s right, and it is pretty cool. There are 11 basic references that you start with but the various combinations total around 4,000. You can also use the TAG Heuer watch studio to create the watch face you want as well as the ones that come preloaded. 

Of course there are too many faces to show here, but let’s have a look at a couple. You can see that the image of the watch face is really crisp and it doesn’t look like computer graphics. We’ve played with it in person and can vouch for the images. 

And this one – same watch but different strap and different option chosen for the watch face. 

And of course there’s a Dubai edition…

And so on. It’s pretty impressive. At one point Jean-Claude said, “It’s magic what you can do, and one day all watches will be modular” which caused a few eyebrows to be raised among the traditionalists but there’s a logic to it.

You start with a connected watch and then move up to a mechanical watch, but have the means to interchange. It’s good PR and clever future proofing because people who want a connected smart watch with a bit of style can get this and know that it’s a base that can be upgraded.

As Jean-Claude said, “In 100 years you can still have this watch and it will never be obsolete because even if the tech becomes obsolete you’ll still have the mechanical watch”

There are only 150,000 being made and it’s probably the most expensive connected watch on the market, but there’s a prestige element here. There are 40 million connected watches in the world and these will account for around 0.4 percent of them so there’s still that level of prestige the brands really needs.

Whether it’s a huge hit in this region will largely depend on the support for it in the country as a whole. One of the Intel guys at the launch told us that he’s been using his to pay for trips on the London Underground, but will it work on the Metro in Dubai anytime soon? Perhaps. 

Likewise, it replicates lots of things that people currently do on their phones – GPS, checking texts, etc – and getting people to do that has proved difficult for Apply and their watch. I’m yet to see anyone in public doing much on their Apple watch, but I can’t go more than ten feet in Dubai Mall without some dithering buffoon getting in my way because they’re dawdling along while trying to read their smartphone.

Jean-Claude knows this. But he pointed out something really interesting. Originally, watches were mostly pocket watches rather than wrist watches and that means it was something that you kept in your pocket and took out when you needed to read the time. (Just like a phone). But during WW1 pilots didn’t watch a pocket watch that needed to be removed so they developed the wristwatch as it’s much easier and faster to get information from something strapped to your wrist. “The best billboard in the world is your wrist – it’s the future!” as Jean Claude put it.

Let’s see if it catches on…

And finally because all us watch geeks like to see behind the scenes, here’s a collection of photos of the creation of the Modular 45 from the TAG workshop.