TAG Heuer's Connected Modular 45 is the Android Wear 2.0 watch you want but can't afford

The Swiss watch company's latest wearable features interchangeable straps, faces, lugs, and buckles, letting you build your dream Android Wear 2.0 watch.

The first few Android Wear 2.0 watches seem to have forgotten a key aspect: fashion. While the flagship models may be packed with enough sensors and chips to operate completely independent from your phone, they’re not stunners in the looks department, offering hulking frames and bulbous bezels that prioritize function over form. But TAG Heuer is looking to change all that with the Connected Modular 45.

Tag Heuer’s first Connected smartwatch was in a class by itself, if only because it was one of the few Android Wear watches that squarely targeted the luxury market. That’s not changing with the Modular 45, so if you thought the original $1,500 price tag was too high, you probably won’t be interested in its successor either. If anything, Tag Heuer has doubled down on luxury.

Making a connection: Android Wear 2.0 was supposed to rekindle our love of smartwatches, but the launch hasn’t started out strong. While TAG Heuer’s Modular 45 watch isn’t likely to change that much, it does offer an intriguing concept for watch enthusiasts, a decent-sized segment of the watch-buying public that has been mostly ignored when it comes to smartwatches. Apple may have offered an absurd solid-gold variant of its original Apple Watch, but TAG Heuer is the first company to truly understand watch collectors, and it could carve out a nice niche.

Tag, you’re it!

At $1,650, the Modular 45 actually starts at a higher price than its predecessor, but for all that money you’re definitely getting a solid smartwatch. There's a 1.4-inch AMOLED display, 160 feet (50 meters) of water resistance, GPS, and NFC for mobile payments, though you won't find a heart-rate monitor or LTE chip. Powering the engine is an Intel Atom Processor Z34XX with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB storage. At 45mm, it’s still decidedly a watch for a man’s-sized wrist, but at 13.75 mm thick, it’s a touch thinner than the LG Watch Sport.

tag heuer connected modular 45 display 3 Jon Phillips

The TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 comes in a variety of styles, all of which are customizable.

But you’re not just getting a Swiss-engineered smartwatch with the Modular 45—you’re getting an ecosystem. TAG Heuer has taken Apple’s customizable concept and ran with it, making all aspects of the watch interchangeable: bands, lugs, buckles, and faces. There are 11 main designs to choose from, and TAG Heuer says 45 additional combinations will be offered at boutique shops around the world.

But for watch enthusiasts, the possibilities will be nearly endless. On its web site, TAG Heuer has launched a Watch Selector that lets you customize your perfect Modular 45 watch, choosing from a variety of modules, straps, and lugs across an array of materials, including titanium, calfskin, rubber, ceramic, and diamond. There will even be two mechanical modules you can buy to make your smartwatch less smart, the Calibre 5 and 02T Tourbillon. Just expect those to make the Modular 45’s price tag seem like a downright bargain.

Of course, the watch is powered by Android Wear 2.0, which means you’ll get Android Pay, Google Assistant, and Google Fit built in, as well as some 30 digital watch faces that mimic some of TAG Heuer’s classic looks. It works with the standard Android Wear app as well as TAG Heuer’s own Connected app, which will feature an exclusive time management tool that incorporates AI smarts into your schedule. For example, if you ask it to alert you to pick up milk on the way home, it will use GPS to determine when you're actually on the way home, no matter what time that may be.

The watch and its various modules and accessories can be explored on TAG Heuer’s website and should be available for purchase soon.

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