How does the two heavy weight (cost) champions compare?
I have been a fan of smart wearables for a couple of years now. Since I first put on my brand new Sony Smartband a few years ago there was no turning back for me. There have been a few since then and it has all lead up to my current ones. I had a hard time choosing between them so I found myself getting both. As I dont own an iPhone, I can fortunately look passed the Apple Watch, but these two there was no way around. Last years watch from the traditional watchmaker Tag Heuer – the original Connected. And fall 2016 Garmin announced their upmarked watch the Garmin fenix Connected.
I have a history with Android Wear – as well as with Garmins OS that I have used more or less every day now for 2 years. Since launch. And I have really really loved the Garmin. It does everything I want a “smartwatch” to do. Even last for more than a week, which basically destroys every other “smartwatch” out there in regards to battery. Already having owned (and given up on) a Motorola Moto 360 because of… a lot of limitations. I had no plans to get an Android Wear watch any time soon.
So, a couple of months ago I had the suprisingly “stupid” idea to get the Tag Heuer Connected. Stupid only because of the well known cost of the thing and also the shockingly depreciation value… No watch ever to origin from Switzerland have depreciated this quckly. But I could not resist. It looks so great. I just needed it. Even if I knew Android Wear was far from optimal and the battery would last about a day. But I quickly learned that some of my issues with the Moto 360 was sorted on this one. First and foremost – it has an always on display. As the gesture to activate the screen is not perfect and having to do the gesture – some time multiple times – to get to see what time it is… was….annoying. But not on this one. It has a shiny nice always on screen that can tell me the time just glancing on the watch in every situation. It is even perfectly readable both in the dark and in direct sunshine. Great! And it looks good! And looks good is the key for this watch. You can get other Android Wear watches that will do everything this can do. But the OEM watchfaces are really nice and it is a proper shiny Tag Heuer watch. With the upgrade to Android Wear 2.0 it got even better. And you can customize the watchfaces even more to your liking. I think Tag Heuer did a really great job there and as one of the great watchmakers of the world they certainly know how to make a good looking watchface.
So then I fell for one of the other “luxury” watches out there. I traded my trusty old Garmin Fenix 3 HR for a Garmin fenix Chronos. There are not very many proper reviews of this watch around. Yes, I know there are some, but they all more or less focus on the pricing. Typing this long after the most recent review has been written and knowing the specs of the Fenix 5. I can now say that the Chronos is mostly built on Fenix 5 hardware. And with a recent software update it has the updated menu system from Fenix 5 as well. Think of the Chronos as a Fenix 5S with the screensize of the Fenix 5 (still the resolution from 5S, but with the 64 coluor screen – not 14 as on the Fenix 3). All in a VERY nice casing. The weakest thing of the Chronis is also one of its strengths. It is the 64 colour screen. It does have a slightly pixelated resolution and limited colors. But what it give you is battery for an honest weeks use.
So in my hands – I have two of the current most “overpriced” “smartwatches” of today. Hurts in my wallet, but feels great for my inner nerd. Owning them both I will now let you know what I like and dislike with the two.
The Tag Heuer Connected was purchased to use as a watch for weekends away and for business. It has a lot of things going for it. It is a Tag Heuer. It does have very nice watch faces. It looks good. It is very well built and actually feels like it does cost more than the rest of the Android Wear watches (except from maybe the Huawei watch from 2015). And it has goten me to really appreciate the other watches from Tag Heuer that previously was unknown territory for me. There are downsides though. First of all – it is the battery. The achilles heal for all smartwatches. One day of battery is just not working for me. If you have a really long day you actually are in the risk of having an expensive wristband at the end of the day when the battery wears out. Usually it lasts trough the day, though! So if you are the type of person that takes of you watch at bedtime anyways, then you will probarbly be fine. It is not water proof (only IP67). Which means you can shower with it, but not swim with it. And then there is that rubber band. I know you can get it with a titanium band, but that is way more expensive. I know the rubber band is a little bit of the Tag Heuer trademark, so very common on their watches. But I can not get away from it also looking a little like a sportwatch. It does take away a bit of “class” that you would have with a metal band or a leather band. Which is kind of the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish buying this one.
On the other hand – there are apps. Even as a gadget freak I must admit that they are only of minor interest. And some of them are also a little bit of a struggle to get to work if your phone kills the associated app on the phone trying to save some battery. The ones I am using are the calendar to quickly check my next appointment, the weather and… third must be the app from my most frequently used airline company which get my boarding card (QR code) on the watch. Still trying to figure out if it is usable or just geeky. I should mention the Endomondo app which is just a remote control for the Endomondo app on the phone. To start and stop your workout. But it is only good if you dont have a proper sportwatch. And last its the TV guide from my local cable network. But in order to use this I have to start the app on the watch first – THEN it will get data from the phone over to the watch. So its not for everyone to bother doing that. This is because my phone tries to save battery killing unused apps from memory and the app on the watch not being a standalone app so it gets all the data from the phone app. If you think that sounded complicated – then you would not be using it either. That and smart notifications are the benefits on this. Now with Android Wear 2.0 you can actually respond to SMS and Messenger messages directly from the watch. And you can also quicky read complete new incoming emails from the watch. I still think Android Wear has a few limitations to letting me choose which and how notifications are delivered to my watch. My Garmin will let me do that. An example would be emails. To get them to vibrate the watch, I need to also set it to vibrate on the phone. Which I dont really want it to do. But it is the only way of getting the watch to vibrate on new incoming emails.
So – I then purchased the fenix Chronos as a nice every day beater that will also double as a sportwatch and “smartwatch”. It does everything I need. The only bad thing I can say about it is that the screen is a little limited. But as you already know – it makes the battery last much longer. It tracks everything I do every day in a nice app that I can compete with my friends. Counts steps, sleep, heartrate and sports activities. After sunset the screen lights up when I receive a new smart notification. It looks really really nice. So nice in fact that I have started question the need for the Tag Heuer Connected. I know that if I had to choose one of these – I would without hestitation choose the Chronos. The only thing that could be usable is the option to respond to SMS or Messenger. It will only read the first part of an email or Messenger post (but a complete SMS).
With interchangeable bands with quick release I can in just a few seconds swap between rubber band for workouts, a nice looking steelband for business meetings. And also a nice “vintage” leather band…also for meetings. The watch looks good. With the leather band or the steel band it kind of looks like a (nice) classic watch. The Garmin is also water proof down to 100 meters. So for a nice day at the beach, a hiking trip in the mountains, running or just business. This watch does it all. The build quality is also exeptional. The Tag Heuer is some plastic, some titanium and some rubber. The Garmin is mostly steel, but with some parts of plastic. Still – it looks and feels premium to the touch.
After som considerations, I found myself selling the Tag Heuer Connected and keeping the Chronos. Part of me miss the Connected, but I just didnt use it enough to justify the cost and depreciation for it. I feel a Huawei Watch Classic (2015) coming my way in the near future. To be continued! 😉