We covered the launch of the original TAG Heuer “Connected” smartwatch, which took place at LVMH Tower in New York City in 2015 — easily one of the largest watch-industry press conferences held that decade.
At the time, nobody knew how well an expensive luxury smartwatch would do, particularly against the industry-leading Apple Watch. Yet it was highly newsworthy at the time, and well worth covering. Bernard Arnault (pictured above), the current Chairman and CEO of LVMH, was in attendance, along with the then CEO of TAG Heuer, Jean-Claude Biver (pictured above). And yes, that’s Ben Clymer, founder of Hodinkee, (pictured on the far right) who spoke before the large audience that day.
Legendary football ambassador Tom Brady became an official TAG Heuer ambassador a month before the launch. And wore a TAG Heuer Connected watch at a Super Bowl press conference, in 2017, before eventually becoming an IWC ambassador after his contract ended.
Even with the combined marketing power and influence of Tom Brady, and Ben Clymer — TAG Heuer’s smartwatch never seemed to take off. Good products have to perform on their own. Yet, even with such strong backing, apart from hearing TAG Heuer executives, publicists, and other authorized retailers say the product has achieved strong sales — we have zero concrete evidence that leads us to believe this is true.
Six years from its introduction, after having never personally seen a single one of these luxury TAG Heuer smartwatches on anyone’s wrist in the wild — whereas everywhere you go see people with Apple Watches on their wrist — the TAG Heuer Connected watch is still somehow around.
I suspect it’s a product that generates very little revenue for the otherwise prolific watchmaker — if not a loss. And at the very least, I doubt it moves the needle the way TAG Heuer as a whole does — or any of the LVMH Group’s high-performing brands. Yet, yesterday, TAG Heuer, somewhat surprisingly, debuted a new limited edition Super Mario Connected smartwatch.
Does that suggest the Connected smartwatch is already selling enough to reach critical mass? Or is it perhaps a venture that’s become so costly, that the largest luxury group in the world would rather keep pumping money into the development to either avoid admitting it’s not commercially viable or as a long-term gamble that it may one day succeed?
In my opinion, the Connected smartwatch, with or without Super Mario, just like TAG Heuer’s attempt at a smartphone many years prior, has little chance of succeeding, and for mostly the same reasons their smartphone never worked: it’s too expensive and they watchmaker (not tech company) cannot keep up with the constant updates and ephemeral product cycle required to stay competitive in the tech space.
With that said, no, the TAG Heuer Super Mario Connected Smartwatch is not a good value — although maybe it will be in the future when flying cars and jetpacks are commonplace. Currently, though, with that same $2,150 you can do so much better by buying either a pre-owned or new watch. In fact, for that money, you can buy an awesome analog watch, and a brand new Apple Watch to boot!
To TAG Heuer’s CEO, Frédéric Arnault, or anyone interested, please feel free to email us if you have anything to add at firstname.lastname@example.org.