The Fossil Q Founder smartwatch was announced this week and is one of the first such devices from a major watch producer. The Q Founder was developed through a partnership with Intel and Google. As chance would have it, Intel and Google are also Tag Heuer’s partners for their smartwatch initiative, now known to be called Tag Heuer Connected. With similar partnerships, does Fossil’s Q Founder offer hints about what to expect from the Tag Heuer smartwatch?
One of the most interesting things to glean from the Fossil device is that it appears to be running a stock version of Android Wear. Google has not been allowing manufacturers to customize or re-skin the mobile operating system and that seems to continue to be the case. Given that Fossil has not highlighted anything unique about the watch software, we have no expectations that the Tag Heuer Connected will veer from the path either. At the most we might see some digital versions of classic Tag Heuer watch faces. This is interesting given Tag Heuer’s previous vocal statements about smartwatches, at first dismissing them and then stating the company would only enter the market with something unique. While Tag Heuer has toned down their rhetoric over the past several months, is there something else unique about the forthcoming device?
From a hardware perspective, the Tag Heuer and Fossil smartwatches are the first Android Wear devices to feature Intel chips. This is interesting because we really don’t know anything about Intel’s hardware versus the more established wearable chip providers, such as Qualcomm. Even though Fossil’s Q Founder was announced this week, no details were provided about the smartwatch. There is no information about the chip, the speed it runs at, the screen it drives, battery life, or the size of the watch. It is interesting that this data would be completely absent and suggests a possibility that Intel is working with its partners to keep its cards close to its chest, at least until the much anticipated Tag Heuer reveal. Perhaps Intel’s chips are trumping the competition in some metric (most likely battery) and they are allowing Tag Heuer the honors of announcing it. Then again, there could be nothing special about the chip’s performance and it just hasn’t been worth speaking to yet. But there is another possibility regarding the hardware…
There are starting to be rumors that the Tag Heuer Connected will be upgradable. The idea is that while the watch case itself might be worth $1500, for $300 you can swap out all of the internal hardware as new tech comes along. This could either be a feature exclusive to how Tag Heuer designed their watch or could be possible because of the Intel hardware. Swappable internals were originally rumored to be a potential feature of the Apple Watch; when the device was introduced last year Apple showed the entire chipset contained within a sealed module inside the watch. While there seems to be nothing upgradable about the Apple Watch, the interest around the concept demonstrated that there was consumer demand. Swappable hardware would allow a smartwatch serve as a long term gift / investment in the same way a traditional watch would. On Tag Heuer’s part, the company’s UK Communications Manager, Alexandra King, has said that one of the key focuses of the device will be on longevity; they want to create something that will stay with you for a lifetime. Without a press release though nothing is set in stone and we likely won’t know for sure about upgradability until the November 9th unveiling.
The one way in which we 100% expect Tag Heuer to attempt to provide a unique user experience is via the phone-side software. Fossil announced a ‘Q app’ which, besides handling activity tracking and notifications, will offer Q Curiosity. The phone app will work with the watch to provide notifications when it senses an opportunity to do something outside of your normal routine, whether that means trying something new in your community or looking at things from a new perspective. Based on Fossil’s Q app, we believe that Tag Heuer will also offer a specialized app that will provide features which relate directly to the luxury watchmaker’s DNA.
We are starting to get excited for the November 9th unveiling of the Tag Heuer Connected. There has been so much said publicly by the Swiss watchmaker that we really don’t know what to expect. While our expectations were largely tempered following the launch of the Fossil Q Founder, there is still room for innovation. Despite likely featuring a stock version of Android Wear, if Intel and Tag Heuer were able to innovate from a hardware perspective that would be huge. Reaching a point of upgradable internals in smartwatches would be a big milestone for wearables and would likely accelerate the segment’s growth. Then again, the Tag Heuer Connected could simply be like the Apple Watch Hermès Edition; in other words, it might just be the Fossil Watch with nicer dressings. Either way, it will be interesting to see what Tag Heuer unveils in two weeks!