Android Wear is coming to luxury watches

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Announced a year ago, Google’s Android Wear software is available on half a dozen different smartwatches, ranging in price from $ 200 to $ 300. All of these smartwatches, whether it’s the Motorola Moto 360, LG G Watch R, or Sony Smartwatch 3, come from traditional manufacturers of consumer electronics and smartphones. Today, Google is announcing a partnership with Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer that will put Android Wear on luxury watches for the first time.

Best known for its analog chronographs and sponsorship with Formula 1 and other sporting events, Tag Heuer is one of the greatest Swiss watchmakers. The price of his collection ranges from just under a thousand dollars to well in the five-figure range. Tag is not generally considered to be Rolex or other Swiss brands, but it certainly has more luxury cachet than the average smartphone maker or even Japanese watchmakers.

Google provides the software, Tag Heuer provides the design, and Intel supplies the processing components.

Part of today’s announcement includes Intel, which will assist Tag Heuer with internal components and sensors for its smartwatches. Before that, Android Wear watches used Qualcomm or Texas Instruments processors, so Tag Heuer’s versions will be among the first to use Intel chips. Intel has ventured into wearables before – the $ 495 Mica bracelet is designed for women – but its earlier efforts have used proprietary software platforms.

The companies do not provide specific details on the watch (s) that will result from this partnership, nor do they say how much they will cost when they hit the market. David Singleton, Google’s engineering director for Android Wear, said the watches “will focus on the quality and performance expected from Tag Heuer” and the price will reflect that. It’s unclear exactly what a Tag Heuer watch will look like with Android Wear, although Google says any apps the developers have already created for the platform will work with all Android Wear watches, meaning that one screen touchscreen and a microphone are likely. A Reuters report says the watch will be a “digital replica of the original black Tag Heuer Carrera, known for its bulky and sporty appearance, and will look like the original.”

What a luxury Android Wear watch will look like is not yet known.Android Wear’s sudden entry into the luxury watch market may seem like a knee-jerk reaction to the Apple Watch, the gold versions of which will sell for up to $ 10,000, but Singleton says the talks between Google and Tag Heuer started long before the launch of Android Wear. March. He notes that Google has “focused on aligning with what people want to wear on the wrist” from the start with Android Wear, and this partnership is the next step in that direction. Google is not saying that it will be Tag Heuer exclusive for its high-end Android Wear watches, but it is not announcing other Swiss partnerships yet.

One of the biggest criticisms against Android Wear and even smartwatches in general is that they don’t look or feel as beautiful as traditional watches. Partnerships with real watch companies and ultra-fancy versions of the Apple Watch will certainly improve this perception, but it will be interesting to see how the traditionally ultra-conservative Swiss watchmaking world embraces the new technology. And – this is perhaps the most interesting part – we’ll find out if people are really willing to spend $ 1,000 or more on wrist computers.

On-board video: The luxurious design of the Runcible, a smart pocket watch


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