Introducing The TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45, the Evolution of the Brand’s Smartwatch Platform

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With the rise of wearable tech in the past few years, there have emerged two separate and distinct groups: those who wear mechanical timepieces, and those who wear smartwatches. Surprisingly, the two demographics almost never intersect, with almost few mechanical watch enthusiasts jumping on the smartwatch trend and vice versa. A lot of this comes down to background–smartwatch fans generally come from a more tech-oriented background, while mechanical watches are almost a statement of rejection of the modern digital age. However, this separation has led to a large, affluent segment of young consumers with an interest in tech, but without a proper introduction to watches.

TAG_HEUER_CONNECTED_4
Introducing the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45.

TAG Heuer looks to court this segment, along with a more mainstream luxury-buying public, with the new TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45. The Connected Modular 45 is a completely revamped second generation of the 2015 TAG Heuer Connected smartwatch, evolving on the original concept and taking the TAG brand to new and wholly innovative frontiers.

The original TAG Heuer Connected, while marketed as a premium smartwatch, also took the opportunity to use the piece as a gateway drug into the TAG Heuer brand. Two years after the initial $1500 smartwatch purchase, buyers had the option of paying an additional $1500 to exchange the then-obsolete Connected for a mechanical TAG Heuer piece. What served as a novel concept for cultivating new watch enthusiasts at the time was only moderately successful in practice. The new Connected Modular 45, however, takes that idea in a bold new direction.TAG Heuer Connected 9

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As the title suggests, the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 is a completely modular design–not only straps, but also lugs and even movements are easily swapped out in seconds. It’s an almost LEGO-style approach–a wearer can go from an all-titanium case with a rubber strap to diamond-studded PVD lugs and a bracelet by quickly removing and attaching a few small parts.

All this quick swapping brings to mind TAG Heuer’s rich racing heritage–this fast, efficient parts change really evokes a pit stop.

A. TAG HEUER CONNECTED MODULAR 45 (2)
Due to its modular design, the Connected Modular 45 can be a fitness-tracking smartwatch at the gym one minute, and an impressive tourbillon chronograph for a night out the next.

Even more than that, this quick-change system not only includes the smartwatch module, but a Calibre 5 three-hander mechanical module as well as the top-of-the-line Heuer-02T Tourbillon chronograph option. This is a revolutionary concept on its own and it lends itself to incredible versatility. The Connected Modular 45 could be a fitness-tracking smartwatch at the gym one minute, and an impressive tourbillon chronograph for a night out the next. Not to mention, all this quick swapping brings to mind TAG Heuer’s rich racing heritage–this fast, efficient parts change really evokes a pit stop.

There’s no shortage of options overall for the Connected Modular 45. 11 standard versions of the base smartwatch are available, finished in either titanium, PVD, or rose gold, with leather straps, ceramic bracelets, and a wide variety of colored rubber to choose from. In addition to the 11 base models, TAG is offering 45 additional custom combinations for special order. A. TAG HEUER CONNECTED MODULAR 45 (6)Add this to the two optional mechanical modules, 30 pre-programmed digital watch faces (a small selection of current and vintage Heuer dials from three-handers to GMTs to one, two, and three-register chronographs, with customizable adaptive sub-dials for additional info) along with four thousand more dial possibilities through the company’s TAG Heuer Studio dial customizer app, and the total number of possible combinations comes out to 677,040! Even that’s not enough, as the brand has hinted at adding more of its current line (think Monza, Monaco and Silverstone) to the Studio app in the future.

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With that in mind, no two Connected Modular 45s might ever be alike, and TAG Heuer has backed up this incredible variety with class-leading smartwatch performance through Android Wear 2.0. The real quantum leap here is 50 meters of water resistance for the smartwatch module–not much by mechanical standards, but phenomenal for high-end electronics. Additionally, the Connected Modular 45 offers interactive dial complications, added Android Pay and Google Assistant functionality, access to the Google Play Store, and the big one–iOS compatibility. While Apple remains determined to ensure that the Apple Watch only pairs with iPhone, this new Heuer will be compatible with nearly every smartphone on the market today.TAG_HEUER_CONNECTED_8TAG also teased an “intuitive alarm” function in the coming months, with the ability to trigger alerts based on events rather than strictly attached to a set time. For example, you could set an alarm to go off after you leave work. Rather than going off at five o’ clock regardless of whether or not you can go, this new system will alert you when you actually leave thanks to a variety of sensor parameters.

The Calibre 5 module
The top-of-the-line Heuer-02T Tourbillon chronograph module

At prices ranging from $1650 for the most basic smartwatch model to the Deluxe Box Set including multiple straps and the incredible Heuer-02T Tourbillon module at $17,000, it’s certainly positioned at the top of the current wearable tech market. That said, the fit and finish on these pieces is streets ahead of even the Apple Watch and the high price may even boost its status-symbol appeal. In addition, TAG Heuer will be offering all components in the Connected Modular 45 from straps to lugs and modules separately for sale at select TAG Heuer boutiques.TAG HEUER CONNECTED MODULAR 45 WORKSHOP (17)All this seems impressive, but the basic question remains: will it bring the affluent smartwatch user into the world of haute horlogerie? Will it create loyal TAG Heuer buyers from people who, for the most part, have never worn a mechanical watch? The best answer at this point is a resounding maybe. The TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 is a fascinating experiment in brand positioning and a welcome breath of innovation in an industry that seems to, by and large, ignore the smartwatch trend altogether. If there’s any brand that could possibly make this work, it’s TAG Heuer, and I can’t help but think that this is an idea ahead of its time. Only more time will tell if the world is ready to receive it. TAG Heuer

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Hailing from Redondo Beach, California, Sean’s passion for design and all things mechanical started at birth. Having grown up at race tracks, hot rod shops and car shows, he brings old-school motoring style and a lifestyle bent to his mostly vintage watch collection.
seanpaullorentzen
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  • Svetoslav Popov

    I don’t even want to read the article 🙂

  • Richard Baptist

    It is actually an interesting concept, they’re taking a risk no doubt about it, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m not into smart watches but with the mechanical modules it would be the only watch you need. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

  • Никита

    Looks totally same as a bunch of other wrist phones from Samsung, LG, etc. At the current state of industry = useless toy. Even harmful: it takes away wrist space designated for a lovely mechanical marvel!

  • goju1

    Clever marketing? I guess so, if you can encourage customers to buy (at least) two watches at once. The (so called) smart watch still becomes obsolete though… I could achieve the same quite easily with a Nato strap.

    JCB (the always-grinning man behind TAG, Hublot and god know what) is good at marketing. Look what he’s saying about in-house movements. According to him they are a mistake for the Swiss watch industry.

    I guess that if you have a watch business like Hublot that charges ‘over the top’ prices for gimmicky watches named after athletes and football teams and they only contain Ébauche movements (ETA etc.), for which other vendors only charge a quarter of the price (or less) then you try to encourage people to believe that tasteless, overpriced watches with cheaper movements are better than fine watches that follow traditional Horological production methods…

    • somethingnottaken

      In house movements are an absolute necessity for haute horology brands. Unique movements, often with novel complications, and the highest levels of decoration, are the core of their identity and value proposition.

      Swatch Group, and Rolex/Tudor have sufficient sales volume that it makes financial sense to design and manufacture their own movements instead of sharing margin with an outside movement maker. LVMH should probably do emulate Swatch and establish an internal movement supplier to allowing sharig R&D and factory costs between Hublot, Heuer, etc..

      However, for most smaller brands, outside watch/luxury groups JCB is probably right about in house movements. What the industry probably needs is a variety of ebauche movement suppliers at different price points, providing alternatives to the ETA movements, and their clones, which have dominated the industry for decades. There are already several contenders to fill this niche: Soprod, La Joux-Perret, SH, Eterna, and Fredrique Constant/Alpina, come to mind.

  • Terrance Steiner

    The original Tag Heuer Connected was a surprising hit for them. They sold more then they were expecting. While this watch does not appeal to me there is s market for it. I am someone that came into the watch world from smartwatches. I bought a Moto 360 a few years ago and sold it because I just did not see the usefulness. When I sold it I found I missed have something on my wrist. 3-years and 9 watches later that freaking smart watch cost me a lot of money.

    This is a weird category. If you look at tech blogs they are freaking out about the exorbitant price. Most smartwatches are $300 to $500. I feel this is a watch for a “watch person” that wants dabble in smartwatches and has the expendable assets to drop $1600-2000 on a watch. The original Connected had a buyback offer with every sale. After the life of a watch I think TAG would give you $1500 toward a mechanical watch or something like that. On this watch you have the option to switch out the “movement” and get a mechanical watch. It is seen as a safe bet because you will still be able to end up with a mechanical watch in the end. Kind of genius really.

    • goju1

      Genius? Artfulness perhaps…

      • Terrance Steiner

        “Genius” may have been generous on my part.

  • Tom Alaerts

    I love the Apple watch in my rotation next to several mechanical ones, hence no problem with smartwatches.
    While I find interesting elements in the TAG, one thing is in bad taste: bright dials that mimic traditional dials, even mimicking a sunburst effect in subdials. This looks awfully kitsch on the wrist and as bright as a torch. The Apple watch dials are in that context much more tasteful.
    Otherwise, I do like the modular approach of this.

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