I was there for the first TAG Heuer Connected watch release that happened in San Francisco some years ago, and here I am today reviewing the latest version, the TAG Heuer Connected E4 (originally debuted here). Over the last few years, TAG Heuer has really upped its game in the smartwatch market — so much so that I think it is safe to say that TAG Heuer produces the most desirable Google Wear OS-based smartwatch at this time. I certainly can’t think of any others that I would rather have right now. Of course, Wear OS faces big competition from other operating systems, such as those from Garmin or Apple, but a lot of people will find a Wear OS-equipped watch ideal for them, especially those seeking a city/urban watch who have an Android-based smartphone, or want something more visually distinctive than an Apple Watch.
One of the best things about the TAG Heuer Connected series isn’t just the physical product itself but the software experience, as well. TAG Heuer has a dedicated team based in Paris (as I understand it) that is responsible for the extra software layers that are included on top of the base Google Wear Operating System. Google allows hardware makers like TAG Heuer to develop their own watch faces and a selection of software interfaces for things like exercise tracking, travel, and other commonly used tools. Hardware makers can’t go very far with software additions and the underlying Wear OS system can’t really be tweaked. That means companies like TAG Heuer are, to a degree, subject to the whims of Google. That status can have pluses and minuses, but I think it still makes a lot more sense for TAG Heuer to work with a popular and supported platform (Wear OS), as opposed to coming up with its own smartwatch operating system from scratch, as some others have.
TAG Heuer currently has a good level of variety in its smartwatch offerings. The Connected E4 is available in both a 45mm-wide and 42mm-wide size, and on top of that, there are various themed versions, including the TAG Heuer Connected E4 for golf, Porsche, and, of course, the fun Super Mario edition. These products share a lot in common such as underlying hardware and case shape, but product materials, cosmetics, and even the software can vary. For example, TAG Heuer has different software in the Golf and Super Mario versions of the Connected as opposed to the base model. That’s just something to be aware of. For this review, I am specifically looking at the base model (reference SBR8A10.BT6259) of the 45mm-wide TAG Heuer Connected E4 in steel that comes on a black rubber strap.
While it wasn’t always the case (no pun intended), most luxury smartwatches today look and feel almost identical to traditional watches on the wrist. That means the size and shape of the TAG Heuer Connected E4 is very similar to that of a traditional mechanical watch. This took a few years of hardware miniaturization, but the resulting wearing experience today allows the Connected watch to more or less look and feel like a traditional watch both to the wearer and to observers. The result is that a lot of people who want a more elevated product experience (that looks traditional versus like they are wearing an appliance) can enjoy the sex appeal of a European luxury product while having the convenience and functionality of a modern smartwatch.
In this 45mm-wide form, the TAG Heuer Connected E4 is 15.3mm-thick and has a roughly 54mm lug-to-lug distance. The strap is 22mm-wide. The case is water-resistant to 50 meters, and over the screen is a sapphire crystal. The steel case is nicely polished with elegant lines, and the black bezel is produced from highly scratch-resistant ceramic. In addition to the touch-screen interface, the watch has two pushers, as well as the crown to control the operating system. The crown functions both as a button as well as a scroll wheel to efficiently look at information on the screen without having to swipe at it with your finger (and get fingerprints on it).
TAG Heuer includes expected common sensors and features inside of the Connected E4 including your full complement of location and activity sensors as well as a heart-rate monitor. This latter feature is very important because TAG Heuer has identified that many wearers want their watch for exercise and activity tracking features. TAG Heuer even has their own exercise tracking software that includes an attractive interface and an assortment of specific physical activities.
Most people will enjoy the various watch faces that TAG Heuer developed exclusively for its smartwatches. They blend functionality and TAG Heuer brand DNA in a watch that feels very satisfying, and the small details will make you smile. My favorite is how most of the analog watch dials have an always-on effect, which looks like the luminant is glowing. Note the specific focus here on keeping the look and feel of the smartwatch experience in the traditional TAG Heuer world, as opposed to trying to invent a brand new visual experience. This helps maintain value in the brand’s mechanical products (what they mostly produce) and is also a very specific statement that TAG Heuer feels a good smartwatch is a lot like a traditional mechanical watch, as opposed to being a unique beast with a different form of user interface aesthetics.
I am not going to mention the technical specs of the Connected E4’s hardware. That’s mainly because only a small number of smartwatch buyers today seek products due to the technical specs on the inside. TAG Heuer appears to be updating the hardware in their Connected watches every two years or so, which feels suitable given the pace of technological achievements today. The balance in most of these products is weighing processor performance with battery life. You’ll still need to charge the TAG Heuer Connected on a daily basis, and your battery life performance will really vary depending on the screen brightness and how much connectivity the watch ends up having to do. As a luxury product TAG Heuer will always have good hardware inside of its products, even if it isn’t always the absolute latest hardware. For most people, I think the combination of the software and hardware experience is what matters (they expect snappy performance and vivid display), and in that regard, TAG Heuer delivers nicely.
Even though I like the software that TAG Heuer includes with the Connected E4 watch, I would have liked the option to get more of it. While it might be possible through the TAG Heuer Connected app, I wasn’t able to find any way to download more TAG Heuer-designed watch faces or other software. TAG Heuer has also made it clear that you can use the TAG Heuer Connected E4 to display NFT graphics on the face. This requires special software as well as a connection to your applicable NFT wallet. So if you have NFT graphics and want to display them on your smartwatch, TAG Heuer has your needs in mind.
Photographing smartwatch screens is a special challenge, so most of the pictures in this article will have screens that look dim. That isn’t really the case, and I do feel that screen brightness is a highlight of the TAG Heuer Connected E4. I wore the watch in a lot of situations and found that this is probably my favorite “urban” smartwatch around given its handsome looks. Other products are better suited to more hardcore activity and fitness tracking, but the TAG Heuer Connected E4 is a very well-rounded product and comes with a lot of convenient features thanks to the underlying Google Wear OS platform.
Perhaps the most salient consideration point many consumers will have is whether or not the luxury pricing of the TAG Heuer Connected E4 is worth the exclusivity factor. Thankfully, that calculus is easier now because the cost of TAG Heuer smartwatches has become more accessible over the last few years. This is important because, unlike a traditional watch that is meant to last a lifetime, people are aware that they will want to replace smartwatches with those that have increasingly better technology. While prices go up from this base level, the just over $2,000 USD price of the TAG Heuer Connected E4 45mm is not too bad given the competition (of which there is little and mostly from other fellow LVMH brands such as Hublot and Louis Vuitton).
The people I’ve seen most enjoy the TAG Heuer Connected smartwatch experience are sophisticated city-dwellers who want the best of both worlds: a modern smartwatch experience with a designer feel that comments about their status and personality. TAG Heuer does that better than any other luxury brand right now, and the good news is that the experience keeps getting better. I look forward to getting to know the design team at the TAG Heuer smartwatch office, as well as seeing what the brand has in store for future Connected products. Retail price for this reference SBR8A10.BT6259 TAG Heuer Connected E4 45mm in steel on the rubber strap is $2,050 USD. Learn more at the TAG Heuer website here.