The problem with luxury smartwatches is that they won’t last forever—a point WIRED’s reviews editor Julian Chokkattu raised as Tag Heuer launched its Connected watch back in 2020. High-end brands are asking you to pony up well north of $1,000 for a watch with a battery that cannot be replaced and will eventually degrade. But with the latest Connected Calibre E4 watch, Tag Heuer has smartened up.
Like Apple (and unlike most other smartwatch rivals), Tag Heuer is introducing a battery replacement service—available at any of its retail stores. The service is offered for Connected models released from 2020 and will be available for five years after the launch date. The replacement will be a like-for-like swap, rather than an upgrade. Tag Heuer plans to offer this service for every generation in the future.
“Durability is very important,” says Tag Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault. “Yes, we have some obsolescence with these products. We don't want to deny that. Eventually, it will stop working. So we want to make sure it can continue to function as long as possible. Today, we still have a few thousand people wearing the first Connected we launched in 2015. And the first component that runs out is the battery. That's why it made sense to extend the lifetime—to offer that possibility.”
But how long does each battery last on a day-to-day basis? The new 45-mm Calibre E4 has gotten a 30 percent boost from the previous model, equal to a full day of use—including a five-hour golf session. The new 42-mm size can hit a day even after using a few of its wellness features.
The Calibre E4 case comes in stainless steel or titanium as the primary material, and despite a continued focus on luxury—critical when you’re competing with smartwatch rivals at much lower prices—the new Tag Heuer aims to grab more traditional wearable owners. The brand is hoping a renewed appeal will come with the sportier design of the existing 45-mm model, while a 42-mm version dials down the masculine aesthetic for a more gender-neutral look. This shift mirrors a number of Swiss watch brands that are replacing gender-specific watches with collections aimed at whoever likes the particular models, regardless of styling or case size.
“This 42-millimeter is more elegant, less sporty, and a little bit more adapted for general all-day use,” Arnault says. “We actually wanted to do it for the last generation, but we had a brand-new team, a new vision, and we had to focus and take the product step-by-step. This 42-millimeter is a very different product. The same components, but we had to develop everything twice. So it's more challenging. We were not capable of doing it to the right level of quality two years ago. Now we are.”
You don’t get the apparently never-ending customization range offered by Apple Watch and its straps, but Tag Heuer does offer plenty of variety for its Connected range. Stainless steel and leather options are available, while bright rubber sport straps come in six colors for those fond of fitness.
A range of watch faces means you can create a more traditional luxury watch look, but there are more modern options too. The flagship new face for the Calibre E4 is the Riverside—an animated visualization of the flow of time. Then there’s Wellness, which offers live heart-rate information and step count on the home screen.
The company’s enhanced fitness focus continues with its upgraded Sport app. Along with activity tracking for running, cycling, swimming, and golfing, there’s a new seven-minute guided program to help you get in a workout at a moment's notice. Custom programs and timers are also available to suit your exercise needs and goals.
It's a smart move when many are turning to Apple Watch's Fitness app for on-wrist exercise advice—especially when you consider that 70 percent of Tag Heuer Connected users have iPhones, rather than Android devices. The new Calibre E4 range runs Google’s Wear OS 2 version (a Wear OS 3 update is coming later in 2022)—all the more reason for Tag Heuer to tout its own companion app for those customers.
Arnault is proud of the iOS user percentage. “What it shows is that Connected works well with an iPhone,” he says. “Some customers have questioned us if Connected would work well with an iPhone. Well, the numbers show that it does.”
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