It was something of a surprise when TAG Heuer joined the smartwatch market when it did, with the first Connected smartwatch. For a company well-known for its high-end mechanical watches, a shift of focus to tech seemed contrary to its historical leanings.
However, in 2022 it remains as committed as ever to this market, and is one of the few class brands offering ultra-premium, luxury smartwatches for those who want impeccable styling but with modern tech thrown in.
- 45mm or 42mm stainless steel case – 15.3mm thick
- Ceramic bezel and sapphire crystal lens
- Rubber strap with clasp
- Titanium case, leather and metal strap options available
- 50m waterproof
You generally know what you’re going to get when you see TAG Heuer’s name engraved on a watch: quality design and premium materials. That hasn’t changed in years, and didn’t change for the smartwatches either. The combination of build and the brand perception is what ensures the manufacturer can command a price tag well north of £1000/$1000.
Our review unit is the stainless steel model with the rubber strap, but there are other strap and case materials available including titanium casing, metal link bands and leather straps.
When we say it’s a rubber strap, that might fool you into thinking it’s just like every other smartwatch on the market in that sense, but it isn’t. Even here you see touches of clever, well-produced design.
Rather than have a simple buckle where you have to feed a prong through one of a few individual holes running up the band, there’s a folding stainless steel clasp. It’s an elegant solution, and means you can just snap it shut on your wrist, then press a couple of safety buttons on the side to release it again.
This design means it won’t ever come loose without you purposefully pressing those buttons. It’s also infinitely adjustable to virtually any wrist size because the folding clasp can slide up and down the band freely until you get the perfect fit. Once you have the right fit, you lock it in place, and you’re sorted.
The band itself is also perforated with dozens of small holes to ensure your skin can breathe at least somewhat, again ensuring a comfortable fit, even when it’s hot. If you want to detach it completely and swap straps, you can. There’s a simple, but secure, mechanism for removing it from the watch lugs. Just pull the catch, remove it, and snap the new band in place.
As for the case, that’s pretty stunning too. Our unit – as mentioned – is built from a solid chunk of stainless steel that’s been polished and brushed to accentuate the chamfers and curves. The ceramic bezel with engraved index around the display adds a touch of class – as well as durability – as does the layer of sapphire crystal glass that covers the display and ensures the front of the watch is scratch and impact resistant to high degrees.
With that, and the 50 metre waterproof rating, this watch is designed to survive anything you can throw at it (or throw it at). You can wear it in a storm, in the sea and bash it against sides and door knobs throughout the day, and it shouldn’t even notice.
Our only complaint about the design is the placement of the central button. We’ve often found crowns or buttons placed right in the middle are troublesome on smartwatch, if only because when our hand bends back (for whatever reason) the button can be accidentally triggered. In this case, it launches Google Assistant when you do so.
Apart from that, the buttons are nicely made, click solidly and the rotating crown gives an extra intuitive control for scrolling through the interface.
Display and software
- 1.39-inch round AMOLED display
- 454 x 454 resolution (326ppi)
- Custom TAG Heuer watch faces w/AOD
- WearOS 2
Like its hardware design, TAG has clearly put some time and effort into its custom watch faces that come preloaded on the watch. They’re far nicer, more detailed and customisable than the watch faces that come with so many other manufacturer watches.
What’s more, most of the classic analogue styles come with stunning always-on ambient modes too which mimic the classic mechanical luminescent hands and indexes. It’s a great look. All of this displayed on a bright, vibrant and sharp AMOLED display with fluid animations. It’s pixel-dense too, so all the small details look nice and crisp.
The company has also built its own fitness app into the watch, which then syncs basic health and fitness data to the TAG Heuer app on your phone. It’s not as thorough as some other alternatives, but gives a good overview of your heart rate, daily movement and exercise. The beauty of it being a WearOS watch however is that you can install any number of fitness apps to the watch. You don’t have to use TAG’s.
It is worth noting that this version of WearOS is the older version. It’s not WearOS 3 which Samsung and Google built together, and what features on the latest two generations of Galaxy Watch. Still, you get all the usual functionality from it.
Notifications come through to your wrist and – if you’re using it with Android – you can reply and react to those messages. Apps like Messages and WhatsApp even let you read threads of conversation. You’re just limited to mirrored notifications from your phone.
Performance, fitness and battery
- Snapdragon Wear 4100+ processor
- 440mAh battery – 4pin charging dock
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- HR, GPS tracking for multiple sports
The brain of the Connected Calibre E4 is the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ which – at the time of launch – was the most up-to-date Qualcomm platform available. It’s since been superceded, but – for the most part – it gets the job done well.
Animations are smooth, and apps and functions load quickly enough that you don’t feel like you’re waiting too long. The only exception being Play Store, which can take a couple of seconds to load up the home/search screen when you go looking for apps.
Battery life is strong too. TAG promises a full day of charge even with a few hours of activity tracking. In our own regular usage, we’d comfortably get to the end of a second day with a full battery. That was with using it for about 30-40 minutes during workouts. And when you want to charge it again, you get a sturdy dock to slide it on to. No fiddling about with a small magnetic disk. It uses four metal contact points to refill the battery rather than rely on wireless, and means it can fully charge in about 90 minutes.
As for fitness and sport tracking, we tested the watch primarily doing various kettlebell workouts. Some HIIT-based, others primarily strength, but we came across similar issues regardless of how quickly or gradually our heart-rate ramped up: the HR sensor just isn’t very responsive and gives inaccurate data.
Whether we used TAG’s own Wellness tracking or the Google Fit app, HR data shown on screen took a good 10-15 minutes to detect anything close to our actual heart-rate. For that first chunk of time it would show anywhere between 90-110, which – for this tester – is about what we’d expect during a slow-paced walk. With a Garmin Epix on the other wrist showing 150-160 bpm – the TAG Heuer was way behind.
Inaccurate HR tracking also means it can’t calculate calories burned effectively or judge the intensity of your exercise, so it’s a big miss, especially for those who those HIIT or circuit-style training sessions.
Still, the Wellness app comes with tracking for running, cycling, walking and golf as well as general workout options that you can choose between when you want to track a specific activity.
If primary use of a smartwatch is to have it track the intensity of your workouts and fitness sessions, we’d think twice before taking the plunge on this luxurious model from TAG.