Desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, and smartwatches — humans have always relied on tools and information for survival, but driven by our obsession with connectivity and the latest must-have tools, our modern lives are filled with tech redundancy and way too much screen time. Then there’s the built-in obsolescence, which adds to my anxiety and why I’ve avoided acquiring anymore devices until now.
There is a direct correlation, for me, between fitness and mental health, so monitoring every aspect of my intensive daily exercise regimen should be key. However, until recently, I wasn’t too concerned about accurately tracking every step or heartbeat so precisely. A novice in the wearables department, this changed when TAG Heuer introduced me to its new generation Connected watch, replacing a cumbersome iPhone with a far more effective training partner that seamlessly integrated into my life for a month.
Choosing the most suitable smartwatch is about finding a device made by a brand that resonates with your lifestyle. In my case, a design-driven brand is also key. TAG Heuer makes elegant, luxury tool watches focused on the world of sport and that also express a passion for precision, craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology, and design. The iconic lines of its Carrera chronographs are interpreted in the sleek, futuristic form of the Connected, which is created with the core purpose of monitoring the active sporty lifestyles of the well-heeled.
Following a couple of early technical hiccups, ironed out quickly by the very knowledgeable Stephen Vosloo from IT at TAG Heuer SA, I’ve spent an intensive month with the Connected and the TAG Heuer Sports app, tracking and improving my running and cycling performance and workouts in my home gym. I’ve also managed to synchronise all data with my Strava profile as I furiously clock up those points. A carry-over from the Connected Golf Edition, the sophisticated golfing app is still the main sport feature, which now gives you access to 39 000 courses around the world, including South Africa, with impressive 2D and 3D layouts, satellite view, distance to obstacles, distance from strokes, and integrated score card, all in real time on your wrist.
Thanks to combined GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, and QZSS coverage, you won’t require a distracting phone nearby while you improve your handicap. All of your game and score data is transferred later when everything syncs effortlessly through the TAG Heuer and Wear OS mobile apps. In an ideal world, with connected cities offering free Wi-Fi everywhere, all the time, we might not need our phones at all to receive updates and notifications on these wearable devices.
While I advocate keeping the functionality of a smartwatch on-point and simple, some personalisation is nice to have. More choice ultimately means shorter battery life, but with 1GB of main memory and 8GB for storage, I’d have liked to keep a few Spotify playlists to listen to on the trot rather than have to use the watch as a remote control for my phone. I’m assured that this feature is coming soon, however. And while I definitely don’t see the need to turn a watch into a remote office — it’s there if you want it though — or mobile phone, being able to send basic text to notify friends of your whereabouts would be great rather than taking a phone to social gatherings. Similarly, as this is South Africa, being able to send an emergency SOS using the GPS is essential and something I know Apple does offer. Give me Uber hailing and Google Pay and I might even ditch my smartphone for something more old-school analogue. My short-term memory being quite short, I found Google Keep Notes handy to record notes-to-self on the go, particularly with the voice-to-text conversion. The keyboard was too tiny to fight with.
Despite its 45mm stainless-steel case, the sleek design means the Connected wears surprisingly small even on a slim wrist. And although it is twice the weight (including strap) of a new Apple Watch Series 5, I didn’t find it particularly heavy or a distraction while exercising. Designed with high-intensity activities in mind, a sapphire glass touch screen protects its crisp OLED display (454x454 pixels), which facilitates the easily glide between virtual complications, agendas, and apps. There is an embarrassment of choice in supplied and third-party dials, from the hi-tech to high-definition versions of the more classic or Calibre Heuer01 Automatic chronograph dials. Powered with Wear OS by Google, there are invaluable services for those who require them, such as Google Assistant and Google Translate using the microphone located on the left side of the case. You can also customise how you use the pushers and access the touch screen.
Like most digital devices, built-in obsolescence means the Connected will not be accompanying you for life or be handed down to the next generation like a new Carrera Automatic Chronograph, which is sad because the build quality and materials are every bit as impressive. Comfortable rubber straps and steel bracelet are easily interchangeable through the one-click mechanism. Following the launch in March of this third-generation TAG Heuer Connected, new summer models have already joined the line-up, including two steel cases with oceanic blue ceramic bezels and one ultra-lightweight sandy titanium case, along with a selection of bright rubber straps.
The charging dock achieves 100% charge in one-and-a-half hours, which is supposed to last 20 hours, including a one-hour sports session. This varied with the activities of each day, but I read that the battery does support up to six hours of constant sports tracking using GPS. Activities are recorded with high precision and accuracy through a new heart-rate sensor made of hi-tech resin and integrated into the caseback. This also optimises the recording of calories burned, while the built-in GPS tracks your position during workouts and calculates different performance metrics, also assisted by the accelerometer and gyroscope. With 5 ATM water resistance rating, it is suitable for swimming training and other shallow-water activities.
• The TAG Heuer Connected retails for just over R30,000. For more information visit tagheuer.com or call Picot & Moss 011-669-0500.