The Swiss watch brand, TAG Heuer, took smartwatches to the next level when it first revealed the high-end Connected watch in 2015, and now the esteemed manufacturer is doing it again with the latest generation of the TAG Heuer Connected – the Connected Calibre E4.
This smart timepiece improves on previous generations with a sleek redesign, enhanced fitness tracking, and technical improvements across the board.
The Connected is consistently one of the brand's best-selling models since it was first released, despite being one of the most expensive smartwatches available to buy, but is it worth the money? I've spent a week with the 45mm model to find out.
Read on to discover why the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 has earned a place on T3's best smartwatch list and whether it can go toe-to-toe with the best Apple Watch.
TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 review: price and availability
The TAG Heuer Connected is priced from £1,500 / $1,800. That's a similar price to the previous models.
That base price gets you a stainless steel 42mm case and sporty rubber strap.
If you opt for the larger 45mm model with a rubber strap, the price rises to £1,700 / $2,050.
If you'd prefer your smartwatch with a matching stainless steel bracelet, the price will be £1,650 / $2,000 for the 42mm model and £1,850 / $2,250 for the 45mm model.
And finally, the all-black Grade 2 Titanium model sits at the top of the range, priced at £2,100 / $2,500.
As well as being available to buy on TAG Heuer's website, the Connect is available to purchase from authorised retailers such as Goldsmiths (opens in new tab).
TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 review: design and display
As with the previous Connected models, the first thing you'll notice about the new Calibre E4 is the refined design and generally solid build quality.
The case is completely circular and looks just like a traditional watch. To build on this, TAG Heuer has taken inspiration from its range of mechanical Carrera chronographs with the addition of physical buttons which resemble chrono pushers. These have a pleasing mechanical feel to them and make navigating the software much easier, and can be personalised to launch any app you choose.
Sitting in-between the two pushers is a rotating crown, which acts as a power button, as well as a way to scroll (in addition to the touchscreen) through the operating system.
The stainless steel case does give the watch a pleasing heft, which is great if you value craftsmanship, but not so good if you're after a superlight wearable to track your workouts.
I reviewed the larger model, and in terms of size, at 45mm in diameter and 15.3mm thick, the watch is on the big side (it's certainly not as compact as an Apple Watch, for example), but thanks to a relatively short lug-to-lug width, the Connected doesn't feel oversized. In fact, I'd sat the smartwatch features a few clever design tricks that make the watch seem lighter and smaller on the wrist than its true dimensions.
Thankfully, TAG Heuer does now offer a smaller version – the 42mm model. This measures 13.9mm thick and has a slightly more elegant, less sporty look. I've had the opportunity to quickly try this model as well, and, personally, it's the one I'd go for.
The front of the watch features a flush OLED touchscreen protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It measures 1.39-inches and has a resolution of 454 x 454 pixels. I found it really clear, vibrant and easy to read, especially outside, as the contrast has been improved.
To extend the battery life, the screen alternates between active and ambient mode, but it always indicates time, meaning you can subtly glance at the time without making a show of it. In fact, even when the watch is in battery saving mode it will display the time, meaning you're only left with a black screen if the battery has completely died.
TAG Heuer offers the Connected smartwatch in Stainless Steel or Black Titanium guises. If you opt for the Stainless Steel model, you can choose between a steel or black ceramic bezel, with either a black rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet.
The lightweight Black Titanium model, which sits at the top of the range, only comes with a black rubber strap.
I reviewed a stainless steel model on a sporty black rubber strap, and found it really comfortable to wear all day long. This is mainly because the deployant clasp is infinitely adjustable, which means getting the perfect fit is really easy.
You can further personalise the Connected with the interchangeable strap system. TAG is selling additional rubber and leather straps which can be swapped in a matter of seconds using a simple clip.
TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 review: health and fitness
I was surprised by how much I didn't dislike wearing the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 for workouts. Generally speaking, I'm not the biggest fan of Wear OS multisport watches as they tend to be laggy, and it's confusing that you have to use two apps to synchronise and change things on the watch.
I understand why brands chose this approach, though. It's easier to use a prefabricated watch operating system with plenty of existing functions – no matter how not user friendly it is – than to develop your own. At the end of the day, Wear OS is not the worst, but it could be much better.
Wear OS niggles aside, the Calibre E4 isn't a bad workout companion. The watch found the GPS signal fast, almost as soon as I stepped outside the door. Smartwatches shouldn't have such a fast GPS! This speed is probably the result of the watch not trying to save battery life, at least not as desperately as dedicated running watches.
Heart rate accuracy is fine; the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 is a heavy watch, so it moves around your wrist a bit more than lighter models. This can compromise readings from the optical heart rate sensor. The strap is thick and hasn't got any ventilation holes, so wearing the watch for sweatier workouts might get uncomfortable after a while.
On the plus side, the adjustable clasp enables you to find the perfect fit for your wrist, unlike standard silicone straps used by most running watch companies. This is not the perfect approach – there is quite a lot of extra strap material wedged between the wrist and the band itself – but it's a good option for those who don't like it when the watch dangles around their wrist.
Long story short, the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 is not a terrible workout companion, and just like other fitness watches, it performs best when worn for running and cycling workouts. And golf, of course.
TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 review: performance and battery life
The TAG Heuer Connected has the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ processor inside, which, is an upgrade over the 3100 included in the previous generation.
It's designed to be more power and battery-efficient, featuring a low-power processor that runs alongside the main processor, and handles minor tasks such as step-counting and telling the time.
It's claimed the battery life is 30% longer on the new 45mm model compared to the previous generation. So you can expect a full day's battery life including one hour of running, two hours of walking, and wellness tracking.
I found that more or less to be accurate, with the battery comfortably lasting more than a day if I skipped workout tracking.
You can charge the battery from 0 to 100-percent in one and a half hours, and when it does come to charging, you'll be using the new charger that also acts as a chic stand to display the watch.
In other spec news, synchronising data to and from your phone is now much faster thanks to Bluetooth 5.0. It's a small upgrade, but it makes quite a large difference in everyday use.
TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 review: software
Just like existing models, the new Connected is powered by Google's Wear OS. This used to be the weak link, as Google's cheap-looking software jarred with TAG Heuer's premium hardware.
Thankfully Google now allows manufacturers to customise the look of Wear OS. This goes a long way to making the experience more cohesive and premium.
You'll find custom TAG Heuer fonts, which looks great and are easy to read, and in-house developed timing apps that take inspiration from TAG's range of professional timing equipment.
TAG Heuer has also designed a new set of watch faces for the Connected Calibre E4, which range from watch faces based on TAG Heuer’s watchmaking heritage to more modern designs which offer artistic animations and quick access to all the information you could care about.
For example, the new ‘Riverside’ watch face is animated with an immersive futuristic effect of time elapsing and the new `Wellness` watch face offers information on exercise direct from the watch’s home screen, such as live heart rate and the number of steps that were taken that day.
TAG Heuer has also added new digital complications to its watch faces, displaying information on sports, weather, wellness and calendar delivered directly to the watch face.
These new watch faces are exclusively available on the new TAG Heuer models and will be joined by more throughout the year.
Currently, there are five mechanical dials and five digital-inspired dials. My personal favourite is Synopsis, which features a number of widgets and is great at displaying information.
Of course, the watch also has a number of Google services baked in, to support you throughout the day.
The most useful of these is Google Assistant, which is still my favourite digital voice assistant. It uses the microphone located on the left side of the case to pick up your requests and usually provides accurate and useful information.
As you'd expect, you'll also get e-mail and message notifications, music controls, calendar appointments, weather, maps and more with a large selection of apps on the Google Play Store.
If you don't have any issues with tapping your £1,700 smartwatch to a contactless payment terminal, you can use Google Pay in shops and on public transport in counties where contactless payment is accepted.
Overall, I was really impressed with the Wear OS experience – it's greatly improved over previous versions but I still feel it could be improved further.
The Connected currently runs Wear OS 2, but should receive an update to OS 3 in the future to address some usability issues.
TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 review: verdict
It's difficult not to like the new TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 – it's certainly TAG's most accomplished smartwatch to date. It's a genuinely good looking smartwatch and the new smaller size will open it up to a wider audience.
TAG Heuer's adaptations to Wear OS are really appreciated and go a long way to make the owning experience more cohesive and premium, but I can't wait to see the smartwatch running Wear OS 3.
Overall, it's great to see TAG Heuer constantly improving their smartwatch offering, especially where similar Swiss watchmakers have abandoned the idea. The TAG Heuer Connected is, in my eyes, the best luxury smartwatch out there, and the new generation only builds on that reputation – there's very little to dislike here.