Tag Heuer becomes first Swiss luxury-watch maker to launch a smartwatch

Company that’s been making mechanical watches for 155 years teams up with Google and Intel on web-connected device to rival the Apple Watch

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2015, 12:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2015, 12:30pm

A leading Swiss watchmaker and two technology titans have combined forces to produce a computerised wristwatch billed as the “world's smartest luxury watch.”

Tag Heuer chief executive Jean-Claude Biver said his company has been building mechanical watches for 155 years but knew little about building an Internet-connected device that younger buyers would want. So it partnered with Intel and Google in what he calls the “marriage of Watch Valley and Silicon Valley”.

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Various manufacturers have made watches using Google's Android Wear system but they typically look more like mini computers on the wrist rather than a traditional watch.

Luxury comes with a price: Tag Heuer Connected went on sale in the US on Monday for US$1,500. By contrast, the cheapest Android Wear watch costs US$129. Sales in Japan begin next week and in other markets in Europe and Asia by the end of November. Apple Watch has a luxury edition, with a case made of gold, for US$10,000 to US$17,000. The regular Apple Watch starts at US$349.

The Tag Heuer Connected adopted the company's Carrera Calibre mechanical design and uses premium materials, including titanium lugs and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal screen. Straps come in a choice of seven colours.

Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich said Tag Heuer showed his engineers the design elements desired and worked with Google to tweak the Android Wear software for it.

“Our teams have brought what they are uniquely good at and have fused together something that is bigger than the sum of its parts,” said David Singleton, a vice-president of engineering at Google.