Tag Heuer sees early success for sold out $1,500 smartwatch, more coming in late 2016

In November, TAG Heuer announced its first smartwatch, the $1,500 Carrera Connected, in conjunction with Google and Intel. Introduced by the outspoken Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer, the watch has been a year in the making. Biver spoke about the watch being a marriage of Watch Valley in Switzerland, and Silicon Valley in America. Intel’s Brian Krzanich said the watch is, “a new chapter in wearable devices.” The vision was to build a luxury connected watch that doesn’t look like a smartwatch, but will propel the Swiss watch industry into the future, at least according to Biver. Made with the greatest care, and from grade 2 titanium, he says it’s the first high quality, luxury smartwatch. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Updated on 12-07-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of the UK release, comments on a production increase, different models, and news that sales will be through retail stores until next year.

High demand sees production increase

TAG Heuer put the Carrera Connected on sale in 20 TAG Heuer dealerships in the U.S. shortly after its announcement. It’s set for release in the UK on December 9, however according to the select retailers carrying the watch, the first run has already been sold out. Stock isn’t expected to be replenished until late December or into January 2016.

This coincides with comments made by TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver, who told Bloomberg the company is increasing production of the watch from 1,200 per week to 2,000. He also said that priority will be given to retail stores for selling the Carrera Connected, and online sales may not begin until May or June next year.

Early success sees more models approved

In an interview with Bloomberg, Biver also talked about the future of TAG Heuer’s connected watch range. He called the Carrera Connected’s release a success, and said the company will, “develop a collection made out of different varieties, executions, and materials at the end of next year or beginning of 2017.” He added that models made from gold, and with diamonds set in the body, would be produced.

Classic TAG Heuer looks, with Android Wear technology

The Carrera Connected certainly looks like a classic TAG Heuer smartwatch, especially when the custom watch face is illuminated. A dial of numbers encircles the round screen, lending it a masculine feel. Every aspect of the watch is made to match the classic Swiss watch aesthetic, which is in direct contrast with the very modern-looking Apple Watch and the simpler appearance of the Huawei Watch. It bears some resemblance to the LG G Watch R, but TAG Heuer’s watch boasts much finer materials than plastic.

There are seven color options from which to choose, and the face is a massive 46mm across, meaning it’s going to be huge on a slim wrist. The body’s thick at 12.8mm, which is nearly 3mm thicker than the Apple Watch. Oddly enough, it has a butterfly clasp like the one on the Asus ZenWatch 2, as opposed to a standard buckle or more traditional watch band closure.

We’re still waiting for all the official details, but we do know the Carrera Connected has an Intel processor, 4GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. It runs Android Wear, so will work with both Android and iOS smartphones, but doesn’t have GPS, a heart rate sensor, or a speaker. Only vibrating notification alerts on the TAG Heuer smartwatch. According to Bloomberg, the battery will last for around 30-hours before needing a recharge, which happens on a dedicated USB dock.

Interestingly, TAG Heuer is attacking the prospect of a watch becoming obsolete after a couple of years, and embracing its ethos of “eternity in a box.” After a couple of years, if you’ve no intention of upgrading the Carrera Connected to a new model, you can pop into a TAG Heuer dealer and get it swapped for a mechanical Carrera watch. That way, it’ll last forever, says Biver. You’ll need to spend another $1,500 to make it happen though.

TAG Heuer is ready to join the smartwatch race, and has announced its first contender to battle the growing ranks of smartphone-connected timepieces, in particular the more expensive Apple Watch. Its first smartwatch was announced at the Baselworld watch show on March 19, and is ready to go on sale very soon. Here’s everything we think we know about it so far.

Updated on 11-09-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news on the TAG Heuer watch’s launch, name, and final price.

November 9 launch and possible release date

TAG Heuer has started a countdown to the launch event on its website, where proceedings will be live streamed. If you want to watch along, it’ll take place at 8am PST/11am EST, and 4pm GMT. If you’d prefer to just go out and buy one, it’ll apparently go on sale in the U.S. shortly afterwards, with Europe following three days later.

The November 9 launch date for the watch was teased back in October, when TAG Heuer made a brief announcement on its social media accounts and website.

The company also posted a teaser photo of the device, which doesn’t show too much of its design, though what is visible looks very attractive.

What will it be called?

It’s still not exactly clear what TAG Heuer’s smartwatch will be called. The most recent possibility is the Connected Carrera, or Carrera Connected, a name mentioned in an interview with TAG Heuer’s CEO Jean-Claude Biver — who has been instrumental in bringing attention to the smartwatch since the beginning. The company’s website is more general, mentioning only a connected watch.

Before this, in an interview with Wareable.com, Biver said: “There is no other choice for Tag Heuer than to have all its DNA, all its watchmaking emotion and flair into the connected watch. Somehow, one should not see from a certain distance the difference between a Carrera Heuer 01 and a Carrera Wearable 01.”

tag heuer carrera 01This tentative name may have been nothing more than an internal codename, that Biver has become too used to using in conversation. He also mentions the Carrera Heuer O1, a watch also announced at Baselworld this year. You can see it to the right.

The TAG Heuer smartwatch won’t be cheap

Tag Heuer watches don’t come cheap, so unsurprisingly, the connected version won’t be cheap either. Ahead of the November 9 launch, Jean-Claude Biver told Le Matin the Connected Carrera will be priced at $1,500.

This is slightly more than he quoted earlier this year. In a Bloomberg report, he stated the upcoming TAG Heuer smartwatch would cost $1,400, and go on sale in October or November this year. The news came when Biver was interviewed at the opening of a boutique store in Dubai, and he also revealed the watch’s battery will last around 40 hours, a figure in line with other Android Wear devices.

Android Wear will run on a classic TAG Heuer watch

At the Baselworld launch event, TAG Heuer revealed a new partnership with both Intel and Google that aims to bring all the smarts of Android Wear to TAG Heuer’s classic Swiss-made timepieces.

“Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility. Our collaboration provides a rich host of synergies, forming a win-win partnership, and the potential for our three companies is enormous,” said Jean-Claude Biver.

No details, specifications, or other information was announced about the TAG Heuer smartwatch. Regardless, the partnership between two tech giants and a revered watch maker, signals the Swiss watch industry doesn’t intend to fade into the background. Google’s move to partner with the luxury watch maker poses a direct challenge to the Apple Watch, which has been actively promoted in high-fashion circles.

Right before the event, Reuters reported TAG Heuer would team up with Intel to produce its first smartwatch, which will be based on its Carrera timepiece, and offer many of the features provided by the forthcoming Apple Watch. These will include a degree of fitness tracking, an altimeter, and GPS. Described as a “digital replica” of the original Carrera, it’ll share the same basic style as the classic watch.

Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887
Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887

Jean-Claude Biver, who heads up the luxury brand conglomerate LVMH Group’s watch division, which owns the TAG name, has revealed a little about the device ahead of any official announcements. He told Reuters the new watch will “give the impression they are wearing a normal watch,” and believes the Apple Watch will be instrumental in getting young people used to wearing a wristwatch again. “Maybe later they will want to buy themselves a real watch,” he added.

It’ll have fitness tracking and other smartwatch features

In an interview with Bloomberg, Biver previously confirmed we should expect the watch to feature GPS and health monitoring features, plus a selection of unique apps which are specifically related to TAG Heuer’s brand, and the the sports it sponsors. Over the past year, the company has backed events including Formula-E racing, the Race of Champions, and various marathons run around the world, plus it has a wide range of personal sponsorship programs too.

Biver also spoke about how the watch will end up being the first TAG Heuer watch not developed in Switzerland. “We are not in the communications industry,” he said, adding “The hardware and the software will come from Silicon Valley. But the watch case, the dial, the design, the idea, the crown, that part of the watch will, of course, be Swiss.” For a watch to have a Swiss Made label, at least 50 percent of its movement needs to be produced in Switzerland.

This sudden, increased interest in smart watches is in response to the impending launch of the Apple Watch, which Biver called the “biggest threat for watches priced at less than $2,000.” Previously, he called the Apple Watch’s design too feminine, and commented that the style looked like the work of a student. He also said it had no sex appeal. However, Biver has now drastically altered his view of Apple’s own debut wearable device. He told Bloomberg the Apple Watch is a “fantastic product, an incredible achievement,” and admitted he’ll probably end up wearing one.

Previous updates:

Updated on 11-09-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news on the TAG Heuer watch’s launch, name, and final price.

Updated on 10-12-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in news of an official November 9 launch date for the TAG Heuer Android Wear watch.

Updated on 05-29-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in a report potentially revealing the name of TAG Heuer’s smartwatch.

Updated on 04-30-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of the TAG Heuer watch’s eventual price and possible release date.

Updated on 03-19-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in news of TAG Heuer and Google Android Wear partnership.

Updated on 03-19-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in last minute reports about the Tag Heuer smartwatch, and a possible partnership with Intel.

Article originally published on 01-21-2015

Editors' Recommendations