Luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer is gearing up to release a new smartwatch. Company CEO Jean-Claude Biver confirmed to Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung recently that the firm’s second-generation watch, the as-yet-unnamed follow-up to the Tag Heuer Carrera Connected, is expected to launch as soon as Tuesday, during a live-stream that will begin at 7 a.m. ET.
— TAG Heuer (@TAGHeuer) March 13, 2017
In 2015, Biver suggested Tag Heuer would release a second-generation Connected smartwatch by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017, and the company’s sticking to that promise. Biver revealed precious little about the forthcoming watch’s design, but said that it will boast GPS tracking accurate to within one meter, better wireless reception, a higher-capacity battery, NFC, and a “more powerful” display.
It will be one of the first to ship with Android Wear 2.0, the next-generation of the Google operating system. Standout features include the ability to run stand-alone apps, meaning the watch won’t have to be connected to a phone all the time. Improved input options will make it easier to respond to texts and messages. Support for Android Pay will enable contactless payments.
The new smartwatch will also come in a smaller size aimed at women. It will be made in collaboration with Intel, won’t carry Tag Heuer’s “Swiss Made” label, and will come in a range of colors and finishes. The watch housing and design is undergoing finishing touches in Switzerland, Biver said.
Biver wasn’t willing to spill the beans on the smartwatch’s price tag, but it won’t be cheap if the company’s last-generation entry is any indication. The Connected retailed for $1,500.
It also isn’t clear if the company will extend the same exchange offer it did to buyers of the Connected. For an additional $1,500, Connected owners can pop into a Tag Heuer dealer and swap the smartwatch out for a mechanical Carrera watch.
Biver revealed that the Connected has sold briskly. Tag Heuer has shipped 56,000 units so far, besting the company’s projection of 20,000 units and reinforcing reports in 2016 that select retailers carrying the watch couldn’t keep it in stock. The company increased production of the watch from 1,200 per week to 2,000 in order to keep up with demand, Biver said.
The company isaiming to ship more than 150,000 in 2017 as it reconstitutes a greater share of production resources to smartwatches.
At the 2016 launch event for the Connected, Biver called the watch “a new chapter in wearable devices” and the first “premium” smartwatch. It was distinctive for its design, which paid homage to Tag Heuer’s classic mechanical Swiss watches with a grade 2 titanium dial of numbers that encircle the screen.
But there is now far more competition on the market. Luxury brand Movado launched the Movado Motion and Bold Motion in late 2015. Fossil took the wraps off new high-end watches at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. And Swarovski plans to launch a smartwatch at this year’s Baselworld conference.
Put simply, Tag Heuer has its work cut out for it.
Updated on 03-13-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added tweet saying that Tag Heuer will launch a new watch during a live-stream on March 14.
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