The TAG Heuer Connected Modular smartwatch provides a well built, sophisticated platform which can run a broad range of Android apps. But it’s not as useful to the cyclist as a sports watch, is expensive and has shortish battery life.
Versatile smartwatch from a prestige Swiss brand
Solid build quality
Short battery life
Limited cycling-specific functionality
By Paul Norman
The market for smartwatches is growing, so it makes sense for a prestige watch brand to get in on the act. With its sporty image, it’s a natural arena for the Swiss brand and the TAG Heuer Connected Modular provides a flexible entrant into the field.
TAG Heuer has been a sponsor of the BMC Racing team for a couple of years now and the Connected Modular offers functionality of use to the cyclist. It’s worn by BMC’s riders – at least before and after races, and Greg Van Avermaet could be seen wearing a yellow strapped model to match his jersey at the Tour de France.
Rather than a traditional Swiss mechanical movement, the heart of the Connected Modular is an Intel Atom chip, running Google Android Wear software. It also packs in a GPS chip, accelerometer, gyroscope and other sensors, as well as a touch sensitive display. If you want a smaller format watch, the Connected Modular is now available in 41mm diameter as well as the 45mm version tested.
The GPS chip means that you can display maps on the Connected Modular and there’s Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity to smartphones. You can run Google Fit to track your activity and Google Play for accompanying music, as well as use Android Pay with the built-in NFC sensor. Other apps include Google Translate and Google Maps and there’s a microphone so you can control the watch by voice commands.
>>> Best cycling apps: iPhone and Android tools for cyclists
The face of the TAG Heuer Connected Modular is touch sensitive. So you swipe across the face to change screen and select options. It’s high resolution and easy to operate.
Google Fit provides limited functionality for the cyclist. But you can download Strava for Android Wear, giving you a simple interface to the training app, that works without needing connectivity to a smartphone, although displayed fields are limited. There’s one touch sync once you are home.
The “modular” part of the Connected Modular’s name refers to the array of options you can choose for different parts of the watch. So as well as the watch unit itself, you can configure and swap out the straps, choosing a leather, metal or ceramic band rather than rubber, different lugs connecting the strap and different bezels.
And you can choose the dial display from 4000 different options, just by swiping left or upwards on the watch face. Or it’s something you can configure and customise, including your own background, with the associated Android and iPhone app.
As you’d expect from a Swiss watchmaker, the TAG Heuer Connected Modular feels very well built, with a sapphire crystal 285ppi OLED display and titanium case, along with water resistance to 50 metres. The standard rubber strap is on a continuous band and locks closed, so you’re unlikely to lose the watch.
Battery life is quoted as up to 25 hours, although I got more than this when using limited functionality and connectivity. This means that you’ll need to charge up the Connected Modular most days, with charging taking a little under two hours from flat. There’s a magnetic contact charger that runs from a USB cable, so you don’t need to plug the TAG Heuer Connected Modular itself into anything.
The TAG Heuer Connected Modular is a chunky piece and at 120g, you can feel its weight on your wrist and with its sharp angles I found it tended to cut into the top of my hand when riding. It provides a versatile platform if you’re looking for a smartwatch, although for the cyclist a dedicated sports watch providing more cycling-specific functionality might be a better alternative.
Choose a titanium case and a steel bezel and you can get the cheapest TAG Heuer Connected Modular 41 for £1050 or a Connected Modular 45 for £1200. Add options like a ceramic bezel and a leather strap and the price tag soon heads over £2000. If you want diamonds with that, you’re looking at around £5000.
That’s quite a bit more than an Apple Watch’s starting price, although flashier Apple Watches cost over £1000. But it’s small change compared to the £600,000 Richard Mille cycling watch. Mind you, you do get a free Colnago C60 thrown in with that.
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