Eternity in a box - The new TAG Heuer Connected watch
There is an important distinction to be made when discussing the launch of the TAG Heuer Connected watch that happened earlier today in New York City, the distinction between the nature of the press conference and the quality of the watch itself. As evidenced during the press conference Mr. Biver is extremely passionate about the industry but sometimes can let his enthusiasm run away from him like when he started saying that the TAG Heuer Connected watch has the world's smallest computer inside of a wristwatch (Much to the chagrin of Mr. Brian Krzanich of Intel sitting behind him). I wish I could have seen the faces of the unsuspecting tech journalists when Mr. Biver brought out a giant block of cheese and four cowbells which he gave to Mr Krzanich, Mr David Singleton VP of Engineering Android at Google, Mr. Benjamin Clymer of Hodinkee and Mr. Bernard Arnault CEO and Chairman of LVMH. However despite the initial novelty of Mr. Biver's unorthodox methods of delivery, ultimately he is the interim-CEO of TAG Heuer and you have to treat his statements according to his position with TAG Heuer.
When it comes to the watch itself I must say I'm completely underwhelmed by what TAG Heuer showed the world earlier today which is priced at $1500. Visually the case and bezel are very similar to the TAG Heuer Heuer One that was shown at Baselworld and earlier a few weeks ago at the announcement of Tom Brady as a new TAG Heuer ambassador. The biggest changes are the increased case size to 46.2mmm and of course the digital screen and associated technology. I'm not a tech writer so for a better break down of what the various specs mean you are best turning to say The Verge who were present at the launch. From what I can tell this watch doesn't do anything differently than other similar Google Wear watches and infact as the watch doesn't have a heart rate monitor you could say it's several years behind the times. In early comments about the watch The Verge said that for the most part "you're mostly paying for materials and prestige" which for a watch with a limited lifespan is not a good thing. It is important to note that when discussing materials and manufacturing that this isn't a watch that can read" Swiss Made" as the electronic components on the inside were made by Intel. The watch instead reads "Swiss Engineered" which for what it's worth I think is a nice touch.
The three unique features that this watch does have are three TAG Heuer digital dials, "Interactive counters" and the opportunity to trade-in after two years. The unique dials will be familiar to anyone who has seen a TAG Heuer Carrera within the last few years with a time only, a GMT and a chronograph dial on offer which are similar or identical to their current mechanical counterparts. Just how unique these dials will be after the watch goes live and someone is able to export these dials from the watch ( I don't know how someone could do it but I'm 100% sure that someone can and will) is yet to be seen. The interactive counters will display information on the chronograph dial and can be changed depending on intended use and will probably work best with the native TAG Heuer apps such as Insiders (Lifestyle), Golfshot Pro and Viewrangers (hiking) as well as simple apps like alarms and reminders.
Then there is the trade-in option. After the two year warranty is up, you will be able to take the Connected Watch into a TAG Heuer store and trade it in whilst paying an additional $1500 to get a mechanical Carrera. I can see why people think there is a benefit to it as I'm sure everyone has at least one obsolete electronic gadget rolling around in a drawer somewhere. Those who are in favor of the idea say that this is a great way to combat this obsolescence that is innate within any computer. Whilst I think that the trade-in option isn't necessarily a terrible one I think it shows a complete lack of understanding on TAG's part. When asked by Mr. Clymer what luxury means Mr. Biver responded "Luxury has a soul" yet in later questioning from reporters he said that he expected around 10% of people to trade the watch in after two years. A watch with a soul shouldn't have a shelf life and I don't see how he expects anyone to describe this watch as having a soul. Yes the build quality is going to be far superior to those smart watches offered on Kickstarter but there isn't a smartwatch yet designed that could be described as having a soul similar to that of a mechanical watch.
The hashtag TAG were using for this launched was #connectedtoeternity and the trade-in option is that supposed connection which to me is completely baffling. If you were to receive a mechanical Carrera that was fitted into your old Connected Watch Case or if you could trade your old model in for the newer edition I could at least understand but you're not. You're trading on one product and getting something completely different in turn which of course every five years you're going to have to pay TAG Heuer or a watchmaker to service. To me this shows a complete lack of confidence in TAG Heuer in the longevity of this product and subsequent Connected watch launches. Mr. Biver said that "there are no mechanical products that are working after hundred and fifty years as the first day it worked" and whilst this may be true I can assure Mr. Biver that in 150 or even 15 years there won't be any electronic products working from today either. This trade-in isn't TAG Heuer reinventing the smartwatch, this is TAG Heuer clumsily circumnavigating around the innate obsolescence of technology by providing themselves with an easy out once performance of the watch inevitably slows and batteries gradually die. Stand by your product, make it last, make it timeless. Don't shuffle out the door when it is time for a new launch. By purchasing a Connected watch now and then spending an additional $1500 in two years you're essentially just spending $3000 on a time-only mechanical Carrera. Imagine instead what brilliant vintage watch you could get for that money.
If Mr. Biver and those at TAG Heuer want to have eternity in a box as they say then they should not focus on creating Connected watches. Focus instead on the restoration, the renovation and the resurgence of mechanical watches from today and of years gone by. Give collectors of your truly great and beautiful mechanical watches of yesterday the knowledge that no matter how old, how beaten, how busted up their watches become that you will always be able to repair it. That is the only true eternity that your watches will ever have.