When the first Tag Heuer Carrera Connected Wear OS smartwatch came out, it was big and quite heavy, making it unsuitable for everyday wear. The Connected Modular 41, which reduced the size of the case from 46mm to 41mm was a vast improvement and until now has been our recommendation. Why until now? Well, there’s now a refined Connected Modular 45, and it’s much more wearable than the first Carrera Connected, despite sharing almost the same size case.
The model seen here is the special Golf Edition — but our review is applicable to all 2019 Connected Modular 45 watches — launched at the Baselworld watch show this year. It comes in an attractive presentation case along with three Tag Heuer branded golf balls, and a second strap. I’ve been wearing it for a few days, and enjoyed every moment; but what about the golf features? Is it a hole in one, or a load of balls?
Tag Heuer Golf
The Tag Heuer Golf app is the result of 18 months work, following the acquisition of a French golfing app startup. It’s arguably one of the best and most useful golf apps you can get. It uses GPS on your phone or watch and special vector technology to pinpoint where you are on a course. A massive database contains 39,000 courses from all over the world, with shot distances, course layout, hazards, and more all displayed on the screen.
You log each shot on the watch, with the ability to add the club details, and see the distance remaining to the hole. The watch can be used as a simple map, showing the hole as the target, or to show the recommended shot. When you’ve added all the details, it’s a simple swipe right to move onto the next hole. Apart from being deliciously simple, it also looks excellent. The map view is readable, yet still colorful and attractive, and still shows as a vector image on the screen in ambient mode.
The watch app is smooth and fast, with clever little visual hints about your game, including your progress around the course shown around the edge of the screen, which matches the numbers on the bezel — a really nice touch. Perhaps best of all, it was easy to set up on the watch after downloading and activating the app on the phone first. It synced instantly, and without problem.
There’s a real benefit to buying this version if you’re a golfer.
The app on the iOS or Android phone is excellent too, with great-looking 3D interactive maps and a very easy-to-use interface. There’s enough depth in the app to keep the casual golfer happy, with round tracking, club distance data, and overall score to par data too. However, the serious golfer may want to combine the Tag Heuer app with golf-specific fitness tracking for a better picture of performance.
Any other problems? The app’s database may not be accurate, as it directed me to a local golf course which has been closed for a couple of years. Maybe call ahead if you’re using it to find a course in an unfamiliar area.
All this is free to use with the Golf Edition watch, but the app is also available with a subscription for iOS. It’s a significant bonus, and refreshingly separates the Tag Heuer smartwatch from other so-called special editions. There’s a real benefit to buying this version if you’re a golfer.
The Connected Modular 45 Golf Edition is made from titanium, so it’s very light and highly durable, complete with a ceramic bezel which will stop the numbers and script on it fading over time. The black PVD finish is perfect when combined with the white leather strap, and a contrasting watch face. Tag Heuer smartwatches use a thick piece of sapphire crystal over the screen, and it makes a massive difference to the way it looks. A sleek sheen gives it class, and the view of the screen is always exceptional. You pay more for the Tag Heuer’s materials, but they’re genuinely worth it.
This is also a proper Tag Heuer watch. The company worked closely with Intel to develop its first connected watch, ensuring the technology operated correctly inside a body that was built in the way Tag Heuer wanted, and from specific materials. This meant everything from creating a new way of incorporating the antenna for excellent Wi-Fi reception, to the impressive modular aspects. Beyond the superb build quality and the expensive materials, it looks the part. It doesn’t scream Tag Heuer, but to the informed observer it’s obvious that it’s a Connected Modular watch. The Golf Edition branding and strap give it more personality, and I felt special wearing it. Exactly what you want from a luxury watch.
What about the golfing design aspects? Apart from saying Golf Edition on the bezel, the white leather strap has a surface like a golf glove and it has a sporty green stitch too. If you want something more stealthy, there’s a black leather strap included in the package. Not only is it easy to swap using Tag Heuer’s excellent modular construction, but it’s easily adjusted for most wrist sizes too. The strap slides back and forth in the clasp, and is comfortable even when it’s at its tightest. However, it’s not suitable for very slim wrists.
We wish there were more Intel chips inside Wear OS smartwatches.
The same can be said for the design itself. Yes, it’s more compact and stylish than the Carrera Connected; but it’s still a big watch. The titanium really keeps the weight down though, and it never became bothersome to wear, except when trying to tuck it under a shirt cuff; it’s definitely a watch best paired with short sleeves. The crown is only a button, and sadly does not rotate to help scroll through the watch menus.
Combining black, white, and slight hints of green — from the stitching on the strap to some of the bezel text — gives the Golf Edition a sporty, yet very stylish appearance. The black strap calms it all down. Tag Heuer has done a superb job of making its special edition watch suitable for most occasions.
Software, performance, and battery
It’s Google Wear OS installed on the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Golf Edition, and it’s the same version found on other smartwatches including the Fossil Sport, the Armani Exchange AX Connected, and the Ticwatch E2. However, there is a key difference. The Tag Heuer uses an Intel Atom chip, and not Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100, which is old and wheezy. Despite the Intel chip also aging, performance is surprisingly swift and smooth. I experienced fewer stability issues with the Tag Heuer than I did with the Armani Exchange AX Connected recently. The Tag Heuer Golf app ran beautifully, and set up — a notoriously bug-ridden, frustrating experience — was better.
There’s a wide range of watch faces to choose from, including some very special ones from Tag Heuer ambassadors, but I liked creating my own using the Tag Heuer Studio, allowing me to match the strap’s colors and opt for the GMT watch face at the same time. Most can be customized, and again, the process was smoother and faster than on Qualcomm-powered watches.
All this functionality does require a few apps to be installed on your phone. In addition to Wear OS, you also need the Tag Heuer app for the special watch faces, and the Tag Heuer Golf app. Both these have companion apps on the watch too. It’s all shown on a 1.4-inch OLED touchscreen with a 400 x 400 pixel resolution. Other specifications include 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage for music, and NFC for Google Pay payments, and GPS. It does not have a heart rate sensor.
The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Golf Edition’s 410mAh battery lasted for two working days before needing a recharge. A regular day’s use, between around 9am and 11pm, saw the battery still have approximately 50% remaining.
Turn it off overnight, and it happily lasts until the early evening on day two. The Intel Atom chip may be more power efficient than the Snapdragon 2100. GPS remains a big energy draw, and tracking 18 holes using the Golf app is likely to deplete almost a full battery.
Price, warranty, and availability
This is a Tag Heuer watch and is made from high quality materials using a process that meets the Swiss brand’s exacting standards, so it costs a great deal more than most other Wear OS smartwatches. The Golf Edition costs $1,850, or 1,600 British pounds, and is available through Tag Heuer’s own website and various approved partner stores.
If you want a Connected Modular 45 and aren’t worried about the golf aspects, prices for the basic watch start at $1,550 or 1,200 pounds. Tag Heuer includes a two-year warranty with its connected watches, but it does not cover the crystal, battery, or the strap.Our Take
Expensive, but worth it. The Golf Edition of Tag Heuer’s Connected Modular 45 is a gold player’s dream, and the watch itself is a comfortable, superbly made, luxury smartwatch I didn’t want to take off.
Is there a better alternative?
It depends what you want. If you primarily want a Wear OS smartwatch, then functionally, almost all the others available today do as much, if not much more than the Tag Heuer. Our picks are the $255 Fossil Sport and the $160 Ticwatch E2. If you want a luxury smartwatch, the more compact $1,200-plus Connected Modular 41 is a great choice, as is the larger but less sporty looking Montblanc Summit 2.
If you want a luxury connected watch, but aren’t worried about a touchscreen, the Alpina AlpinerX is a personal favorite, as is the Frederique Constant Hybrid Manufacture. If you’re happy with basic connectivity, I’d also recommend looking closely at Casio’s connected G-Shock models, including the new Gravitymaster, before deciding.
If you own an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 4 is by far the best smartwatch you can buy. If you must have a luxury model, then splash out for the Hermés edition. Finally, if you’re absurdly rich and love a game of golf, Hublot’s Big Bang Unico Golf is a stunning timepiece with just the right amount of geeky appeal.
How long will it last?
The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Golf Edition, like the rest of the range, is made from durable titanium, ceramic, and has a scratch resistant sapphire crystal over the screen, plus it’s water resistant to 50 meters. The strap can easily be changed for one of many from Tag Heuer. The software and battery are the two limitations to the watch lasting for many years, but Tag Heuer has thought of this.It’s not only the strap you can swap out easily, as the modular design extends to the body itself, and you can purchase a mechanical Carrera body and movement to replace the digital touchscreen body, extending the lifetime of the watch indefinitely. Do this, and the Connected Modular 45 may lose the connected part of the equation, but it will become as timeless (sorry) as a regular mechanical Tag Heuer watch.
Should you buy one?
Yes. If your heart is set on owning a Tag Heuer watch, and you like the idea of a connected version, it’s a fantastic purchase. Golf fans will appreciate the Golf Edition, but if you don’t play golf, there is nothing extra here for you. It’s best to select one of the other versions instead. Aside from the Tag Heuer Golf app, strap, and packaging; the functionality, build, and materials will remain the same.