TAG Heuer’s New Connected Calibre E4

Today in Paris, TAG Heuer debuted the new Connected Calibre E4, further cementing the brand’s reputation as a pioneering spirit in the wearable tech category. Fortunately, Watchonista traveled from Switzerland to take one for an early test-drive.

If courage – and delight – in the face of technological change is a pillar of TAG Heuer, the brand’s bold entrance into the realm of smartwatches in 2015 with its Connect Watch proves that point beautifully.

By being unwilling to underestimate the potential of smartwatches in the luxury space like many of its more traditional peers, TAG Heuer’s all-in commitment and partnership role with chipmakers and software developers has paid off, making the brand a leader in this new hybrid segment. And this is especially evident with the launch of these new Calibre E4 launches.

With the release of the Calibre E4, TAG Heuer’s Connected Watches now feel more Swiss Made than Silicon Valley, and, for mechanical watch wearers, they ride on your wrist with a welcome, familiar authenticity. And we aren’t just saying that. Watchonista’s Chairman & Executive Publisher Marco Gabella traveled from Switzerland and Paris to test drive the Calibre E4 and report back.

Available in 42mm and 45mm, the new physical aspects of both Connected Calibre E4 executions point to a two-lane refinement approach that explores the benefits of elegance and timepiece authenticity.

Overall, the 42mm version presents a new take on tech-savvy, streamlined sophistication. Besides sporting a thinner case, it has more ergonomic pushers than previous Connected Watches with a bezel set below the sapphire glass. Plus, one of the 42mm iterations has a fully integrated steel bracelet in one option.

Meanwhile, the 45mm version of the Calibre E4 (which also has an iteration with a fully integrated steel bracelet) now includes traditional mechanical watch-worthy details. First of all, it has a ceramic bezel. But it also features a larger crown to create an easier-on-the-fingers adjustment scenario and new pushers with a more mechanical watch feel.

Of course, digital goodies abound. Some of the tech highlights include:

• An upgraded TAG Heuer Sports App (now with guided workout routines);

• New animated watch faces;

• New digital versions of traditional watch faces, including reinterpretations of some classic dials; and,

• An upgraded charger/battery that offers a chicer and magnetically anchored power-up station (and increase the battery life of the 45mm version by 30%).The 42mm Connected Calibre E4 is offered in a brushed and polished steel case with a steel H-shape bracelet, grained calfskin black leather strap, or a black rubber strap. Its larger siblings all feature a black ceramic bezel, but only two have a brushed and polished steel case. The steel versions come on a steel bracelet or a black rubber strap. The 45mm Connected Calibre E4 with a black DLC-coated titanium case comes only on a black rubber strap.

But enough with specs. Sitting at my computer in Upstate New York, I can almost hear your collective under-the-breath mutterings: “That’s all well and good, but you promised us a hands-on review. What is it like to actually wear one?”

First, no need for impatience. Second, good question!

Fortunately for you (and me), Watchonista’s Chairman & Executive Publisher Marco Gabella took the Connected Calibre E4 on a test drive around Paris.

At first glance, the new 42mm case, with its concentrated sporty appearance, seems much more obviously inspired by classic TAG Heuer design DNA than the original Connected Watch’s 45mm case. Its tension and fluidity are reinforced by the alternating brushed and polished surfaces. Thus, the case of the 42mm Connected Calibre E4 offers an until now unseen level of elegance for a smartwatch.

Moreover, the 42mm model’s screen seems to almost curve into the bezel, creating a visual effect similar to how a traditional sapphire glass looks atop a dial. Additionally, the crown and two discrete pushers are clear references to traditional watchmaking codes and give to the Connected Calibre E4 an overall look of a conventional mechanical chronograph. Easily removed from the new charging device, which displays the watch horizontally while charging, the 42mm Connected Caliber E4 has a notable ergonomic quality on the wrist. More than that, I would even go as far as to say that the feel of TAG Heuer’s new 42mm Caliber E4 on the wrist is almost indistinguishable from the feel of a refined mechanical watch. Behind the remarkable design, the new TAG Heuer 42mm Connected Caliber E4 (and redesigned 45mm) offers new connectivity options and updated functions than previous models.

First, the screen has an impressive resolution and retains its legibility even in direct sunlight. Meanwhile, its anti-dust treatment seems to possess magical properties as the screen always looked clean, even after a day of intensive use. Of course, another major upgrade are the digital watch faces that replicate the dials of classic TAG Heuer chronographs along with new animated face options. Plus, changing watch faces is easy. It can be done directly on the watch or using the TAG Heuer Connected Apps on your phone.Lastly, via sensors on the back of the watch, the “Wellness” watch face displays your heartbeat in real-time. Once you add in all the sports and wellness trackers to which the watch can connect (pun intended), then I think it’s fair to say that the TAG Heuer 42mm Connected Caliber E4 has got you covered whether you’re a marathoner or to weekend golf pro. From displaying messages to agenda synchronization, each aspect of connectivity is available, but only if the user wants to activate it. And I found this aspect of the Calibre E4 extremely appealing.

To be granted the ability to choose the functionalities I wanted or the types of notifications I received was very much appreciated because I didn’t feel bullied into a level of connectivity I was uncomfortable with due to the watch’s default settings. And I think this customizable approach will entice many observers and encourage people to discover the watch’s options in a bespoke yet instructional way. After only one day on the wrist, I must confess that I found most of the Connected Calibre E4’s features to be uncommonly intuitive. Plus, with its very horological appearance, customizable level of connectivity, and user-friendly functions, the new 42mm TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 only confirms that TAG Heuer was completely justified in tackling smartwatches head-on. Bravo!