TAG Heuer Modular 45 hands-on review Our editor-in-chief tries out the new interchangeable smart-cum-mechanical watch by TAG Heuer.

  • WatchEast
  • July 24, 2017
  • Comments Off on TAG Heuer Modular 45 hands-on review Our editor-in-chief tries out the new interchangeable smart-cum-mechanical watch by TAG Heuer.

It’s hard to believe that I reviewed the first TAG Heuer smartwatch over a year ago already. Since then, things have changed a lot in the world of watchmaking, and in the world of smart watches in particular. Having encouraged early customers for its Carrera Connected with the offer of upgrading to a mechanical TAG Heuer watch after a couple of years, the La Chaux-de-Fonds brand now cuts the waiting time to zero with a ground-breaking concept that allows you to change not just the strap of your watch but the lugs as well, meaning that you can now switch from smart watch to mechanical watch in a matter of seconds. But this is not a case of having to choose between Silicon Valley or La Chaux-de-Fonds, since both the mechanical and electronic modules for this watch are Swiss Made.

Test au porter de la Modular 45

TAG Heuer Modular 45 © WorldTempus / Paul O’Neil

The smart watch module of the TAG Heuer Modular 45 runs on Android Wear, so configuration is a lot easier if you have a Google Account. I do, so configuring the watch was as simple as connecting to the watch via the Android Wear app on my iPhone. (Note that if the watch has already been set up with a different account, you have to perform a factory reset to wipe that account before you can pair your own phone). Once that’s done you have all your Google functions available directly on your watch and you automatically receive notifications for incoming e-mails to your Gmail account and other notifications that are already set up on your phone.

Navigation on the watch is relatively simple and the fact that the screen is the traditional round shape of a watch (rather than, say, the square shape of the Apple Watch) makes very little difference to its legibility and it’s easy to scroll down when necessary. The only downside in my case was that my Gmail account is my personal account and is inundated with hundreds of messages on a weekly basis, meaning that the notifications and their associated vibrations were going off every couple of minutes. To get the most out of this watch you really need to be attached more to the Google ecosystem than that of Apple, since the crucial functions like fitness tracking are based around Google Fit. Operating system, more than brand, is what determines your choice of telephone and smart watch, after all.

The TAG Heuer Studio allows you to customise your own digital dial from one of three basic starting points: three-hand, chronograph and GMT. I spent some time playing around with it to create a WorldTempus themed GMT dial using our signature gold colours. But what could be better than the always-on look of a traditional mechanical watch face? This is possible thanks to the interchangeable system, which allows you to fit just such a mechanical module to the removable lugs. But is this actually solving a problem? Those who wear a smart watch tend to do so all the time, since the very “smart” functions that they offer are based on continuous use (any activity tracking is lost as soon as you replace the electronic module with the mechanical one). By its very design, the mechanical module has to be exactly the same size as the electronic module because of the modular system, so it remains a sporty watch. You are, therefore, not switching from a sporty watch to a dress watch but from one sports watch to another.

Test au porter de la Modular 45

The connected module is interchangeable with a mechanical module © WorldTempus / Paul O’Neil

But to dwell on such details is perhaps to miss a couple of significant points. The first is that this modular system is a technical marvel in itself, regardless of whether you fit it to a smart watch or any other watch. At a time when interchangeable straps are all the rage, TAG Heuer’s modular system adds a further dimension, allowing the lugs to be removed with the strap and thus offering further potential for customisation (PVD or DLC lugs, for example, that would contrast with the case or a two-tone gold and black PVD combination for a touch of luxury). Most important of all, however, is the fact that this modular system can serve to remind people of TAG Heuer’s heritage and the very existence of mechanical watches.

Test au porter de la Modular 45

The back of the watch © Worldtempus / Paul O’Neil