Switzerland and Silicon Valley Meet in TAG Heuer's Connected Modular 45 Smart Watch

After a surprise hit with its original Connected watch, TAG Heuer is clearly embracing smartwear with the all-in launch of the Connected Modular 45. This is a timepiece that both embraces its Swiss roots (it is assembled in the La Chaux-de-Fonds workshop) and makes a giant leap forward in watch tech.

While it's assembled in Switzerland, the project is clearly a Silicon Valley collaboration — the result of a years-long partnership with Intel hardware and Google’s Android Wear operating system. The marriage is clear in the product: This watch is able to host both digital and mechanical modules that attach to the watch’s lugs. In short, users will be able to switch from a smartwatch to a mechanical one.

Both modules will be the same size, 45mm, which is 1mm smaller than the original Connected. The electronic module has received quite a few upgrades, too. Powered by the Intel Atom processor Z34XX series, the watch now operates on Android Wear 2.0.

This gives it the ability to run standalone apps — including Android Pay — without the need for a smartphone nearby. Users will be able to connect their watches to the Internet via Wi-Fi and cellular networks, connect to GPS, and store images on 4GB of flash storage in the watch. Note: those early adaptors with the original Connected will be getting a software update to 2.0. Phew.

The watch has a 1.39-inch AMOLED touchscreen and is water resistant for up to 50 meters, partly because all the parts have been engineered into a compact cylindrical structure. Another unique feature: water won’t pass through the headphone jack (yes, there's a headphone jack). Intel promises a 30-hour battery life. 

The smartwatch’s cases, straps, lugs, and other parts can be easily swapped, and buyers have the option to pick up one of up to 56 versions. The TAG Heuer Studio is a watch face configurator that will give shoppers the ability to customize their watch by picking from 30 different faces, and give them the option of adding and removing specific features, such as the SuperLuminova effect on the hands and changing the colors of specific details. All in all, TAG Heuer promises up to 4,000 unique configurations for the Connected Modular 45.

Best of all, by making the transition from smartwatch to mechanical watch seamless, TAG Heuer still maintains the classic notions of watches as heirloom pieces while remaining completely technologically relevant.

The original Connected was launched with the promise that wearers could trade it in for a mechanical Carrera for a $1,500 premium. Likewise, TAG Heuer is launching Modular 45 with two compatible mechanical modules, but more will follow. Available now is the Calibre 5, with time-and-date automatic movement, and the Calibre 02T, the company’s entry-level tourbillon.

The watch is available starting today at $1,650. Eleven standard models will be available, but up to 56 references will be available on demand, including titanium, ceramic, and gold-plated components. The chronograph Heuer-02T tourbillon mechanical module is at the top of the range and will be offered in a deluxe box set that includes a connected module and an additional black rubber strap. Price tag: a cool $17,000. [tagheuer.com]