Monday in San Francisco, TAG Heuer presented its second smartwatch in the form of the Connected Modular 45. The timepiece builds on the original TAG Heuer Connected watch by adding a new modular construction that allows hundreds of different combinations by switching out straps, watch heads, and even lugs. Collectors will be able to mix and match these upon making their initial purchase, and they’ll be able to modify the watch by buying additional lugs and bracelets as accessories.
TAG Heuer will also allow owners of the Connected Modular 45 to customize the dial through a new program called the TAG Heuer Studio. Thirty different dial “looks” will be available for download, and wearers can further customize each dial by adding and removing elements like subdials, numerals, hands, and other dial treatments. The Studio looks entertaining to use, and fans of early Heuer designs will love some of the vintage-inspired options available.
As you can see from the Connected Modular 45’s round shape, the smartwatch distinctly remains a part of the Carrera range, still TAG Heuer’s most popular. In an interview with Watch Journal one month ago, Biver said that the Carrera will continue to influence the Connected Watch design, at least for the next few years. Still, when asked, he did not exclude the possibility of a square or rectangular screen, perhaps in the form of a Monaco, at some point in the future.
Once again, TAG Heuer has partnered with Intel on the hardware side and Google for software, employing the latter’s Android Wear 2 operating system, whose updates include iOS integration and the ability to run standalone apps directly from the watch. The entire Google Play store is also now available on the Connected Modular 45, making downloading and using apps a much more seamless experience. Likewise, GPS and wifi now function without the assistance of a phone. The watch is water resistant to 50 m.
Unlike the original TAG Heuer Connected smartwatch, the Modular 45 is assembled in Switzerland, allowing the company to print Swiss Made on its watch heads. At a dedicated workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, TAG Heuer technicians apply the same level of care and precision to the Connected Modular 45 as they do to their traditional watches.
Likewise, TAG Heuer has also developed two different mechanical watch heads, a simple three-hander (Caliber 5) and a chronometer-certified tourbillon with chronograph (Heuer 02) based on the same affordable tourbillon seen from TAG Heuer last year. According to TAG Heuer’s General Director, Guy Semon, the company is now the number-one producer of tourbillons in Switzerland, manufacturing 3,000 annually.
With the mechanical watch head option, the Connected Modular 45 is already elevated to a watch with the potential to live “eternally,” provided regular service intervals are honored. But it seems likely the modular concept will also enable collectors to change out their Connected Watch heads as time goes by. Fancy elements like a ceramic bracelet or gold lugs could, in theory, find renewed purpose when snapped onto future versions of the Connected. This is the best example I have seen of a watchmaker adjusting for the rapid pace at which technology turns over while accommodating for the watch’s place as a timeless object.
The Modular 45 is available now, starting at $1,650. For an additional $1650 you can add the three hand mechanical watch head. A package including multiple straps, lugs and the tourbillon watch head can be had for $17,000.