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Tag Heuer Connected 2020 Review: A Luxury Smartwatch With Solid Sports Tracking

The new Tag smartwatch is an absolute beauty and takes sports tracking into its own hands

It shouldn’t be surprising that Tag Heuer can make a gorgeous timepiece, whether it’s smart or not – but I was still wowed by the 2020 version of its Connected watch, which lives up to its billing as a luxury smartwatch.

The aim of the Connected is to achieve the same look and feel as one of Tag’s traditional watches, and while I can’t claim to regularly wear premium Swiss watches, I struggle to see how anyone could be disappointed by the Connnected’s design.

There are three stainless steel models of the watch, which come with different colour bezels, and a titanium version, which is the priciest. The Connected 2020 starts at £1,495 and tops out at £1,950, making it cheaper than many of Tag’s analogue watches, although of course those don’t contain tech that will be improved on within a few years.

The touchscreen of the Connected is the equal of its surroundings, with a bright OLED display that’s readable even in bright sunlight and runs right to the bezel of the watch. The range of customisable watch faces available is small but there are some beautiful options that match the classic design of the watch, with the Heuer 01c being my preferred pick.

I could spend another few hundred words waxing lyrical about the look of the Connected, but with smartwatches there’s a whole lot more to cover, so we’ll nip it in the bud there. It’s very bloody nice, basically.

Watch

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It’s also pretty bloody smart, with Google’s Wear OS software lurking under that sexy facade. That means you get access to the Google Play Store, which is the only platform to rival Apple for a range of apps, including sports tracking options like Strava and useful planning apps like Todoist.

Naturally you also get Google’s fitness apps, with daily activity and workout tracking through Google Fit. However, I’d steer clear of other sports tracking options in favour of Tag’s new app.

The Tag sports app isn’t as in-depth as the sports tracking you get on a dedicated device like a Garmin or Polar watch, nor as impressive as the Apple Watch’s native tracking, mainly owing to the limited number of sports modes – the options don’t even include indoor running or cycling. The modes it does offer – running, cycling, walking, fitness and other – will cover your bases reasonably well though. I used fitness for things like strength training and other for indoor runs and rides, when all you really need is time, heart rate and calories anyway. There’s no swimming mode, even though the Connected has a 5ATM water resistance rating, which means it is hardy enough for swimming.

For outdoor activities the Connected, which has built-in GPS, tracked well against my Garmin watch on distance covered, but was less impressive for heart rate accuracy compared with a chest strap when I was running. It was closer to the chest strap’s readings when cycling on a turbo trainer, so perhaps the chunky design of the watch meant it was moving on my arm during runs and struggling to lock on to my pulse.

This may also have been affected by the watch strap, which is tricky to adjust to get the right fit. You can move the fold-and-click clasp up and down the strap to change the fit, but it’s harder to get exactly the right circumference than it is with a standard buckle.

Tag Heuer Connected

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The Connected is not aimed at avid runners or cyclists, and the stats on show during a training session are pretty basic: you just get time, distance, pace and heart rate on the main screen, plus a second screen showing your split time and distance. You can adjust which stat (pace, distance or time) you want to be the main one on show by tapping the screen though. One slightly annoying quirk is that you can’t delete or choose not to save activities, so if you opt to do a quick test of the running mode, for example, that three-second, 0.0km run will forever be part of your activity history.

While the watch isn’t designed to rival a true sports watch when it comes to running or most popular sports, it is prepared to take on all comers with its golf mode. I didn’t get a chance to test this during my time with the watch – golfing doesn’t fit with government guidelines during the COVID-19 lockdown – but by linking up with the Tag Heuer Golf phone app, the Connected provides a lot of info about the course you’re playing.

Tag Heuer Smartwatch

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It might test the battery to its limits over 18 holes, however. I never had to charge the Connected during the day, but on days where I went for a one-hour run or played with it a lot, it was running on fumes when I went to bed, with the battery level sitting at around 15% or so. And I go to bed early. A one-hour outdoor run knocked 23% off the battery, so it’s not going to be one for marathon training, unless you’re happy to charge it up after your long runs to make sure it makes it to the end of the day.

For a luxury smartwatch, however, the Tag does a reasonable job of sports tracking, and I did prefer its own app to Google’s workouts or third-party options like those from Strava, which tend to have limited features. For everyday activity tracking you will have to use Google Fit, an app that has recently been updated to break down your activity into steps and heart points. The latter are active minutes, with a target of 150 for the week in line with WHO and NHS guidelines.

I found that quite often my activities in the Tag sports app didn’t result in corresponding heart minutes in the Google Fit app, which could be down to the heart rate tracking being off or Google and Tag’s software not communicating correctly. I suspect the latter, unless Google Fit has a very high bar for what your heart rate has to be before you earn a heart point. Hopefully future updates will see the Tag and Google elements of the watch talk to each other more reliably.

The fantastic design is the main selling point of the Tag Heuer Connected 2020, and it does a stand-up job of replicating the feel of a high-end analogue watch while also bringing some smarts to the table. It's not as capable as a sports or activity tracker as many other watches, and in general Wear OS is still lacking compared with the software on the Apple Watch… but then none of those watches look like the Tag.

Buy from Tag Heuer (opens in new tab) | From £1,495

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.