Can words evolve? The word disrupt or disruption used to have a negative connotation to it but these days, in the business world, if you are labelled as a disruptor, you may have venture capitalists throwing money at you! The biggest disruption story of 2015 in the luxury category is Apple’s entrance into the smartwatch market. This ‘disruption’ has caused massive waves in the luxury watch industry as established brands try to come to market with their own iteration of the ‘luxury smartwatch’.
The Apple Watch has its flaws and smart brands may benefit from the watch and wait approach. One such brand is Tag Heuer which (almost 7 months after Apple) unveiled its own smartwatch in the hopes to capture precious market share in this controversial category. The ‘Connected’ smartwatch was developed in conjunction with Intel and Google providing hardware and the Android Wear OS for Tag’s first model.
Some points of note on TH’s smartwatch strategy:
- The watch cannot be labelled ‘Swiss Made’ as most of the parts are acquired and constructed globally. From a luxury cachet viewpoint, ‘Swiss Engineered’ may not sound as confident at ‘Swiss Made’.
- Using the Android OS may prove to be a huge gamble for Tag. While owners will be able to utilize the phone and text messaging functions on an iPhone, it will have limited capabilities in terms of accessory apps which really are the whole point of smartwatches. Tag’s target market for this type of watch may have a strong inclination to adopt iPhone and Apple technology over Android. Cross compatibility issues could hurt demand watches that run the Android Wear OS.
One of the biggest faults of the Apple Watch is the inability to upgrade the operating system. Smartphones are best used when tethered to a smartphone and because mobile technology improves at such a rapid pace, a smartwatch should be able to keep pace with upgrades and patches. OS upgrades will be available and Tag Heuer has created a unique buying proposition to owners where they can exchange the smartwatch for a mechanical version in 2 years time. Expect to pay an upcharge at the time of purchase for this benefit.
The ‘Connected’ is considered a full function smartwatch and can run actual Google and Android apps with full communication functionality with Android smartphones. Other luxury brands have debuted smartwatches that offer limited functions and tethering abilities marking this model the first true luxury smartwatch to come to market (next to Apple’s of course).
Promo media from Tag Heuer:
The Carrera Calibre inspired watch face appears on sapphire crystal screen. The mini dials on the watch face convey all the important data and can be configured to the users own needs. Tag has put their own style and spin on the Google environment but Android smartphone users will have no trouble navigating and recognizing basic phone and message functions.
For further distinction as a luxury watch, 4 special edition apps exclusive to the ‘Connected’ watch are available:
- A Tag only lifestyle edition of the Insiders social networking app
- RaceChrono Pro, a track ready timing and stats app with specific functions
- Viewrangers provides navigation and mapping functions
- GolfShot Pro which is a complete golfing resource apps
Priced at $1,500, Connected comes in on the lower end of Apple’s wide $350 to $17,000 price range. Only 1,000 will be made on the first generation so there is some exclusivity to Tag’s first smarwatch.
The debate continues on whether Apple is a technology company or luxury company, so the proposition of owning a luxury smartwatch with full functionality from an actual established luxury brand seems…well…smart.
By Doron Levy Courtesy TheTopTier Digital Media / Images courtesy Wearable