TAG Heuer, under the stewardship of CEO Jean-Claude Biver, is a brand used to making headlines, in both the watch-centric and mainstream press. Consider the brand’s high-profile partnership with New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, its controversial release of a $16,000 tourbillon at this year’s Baselworld, its highly touted launch of the Connected Watch, and its new role as official timekeeper for Major League Soccer (MLS) and other U.S. soccer organizations.
The brand has, in fact, already integrated these last two big announcements: as Biver revealed at the press conference for its U.S. soccer sponsorship, MLS officials will, as of this season, exclusively wear TAG Heuer Connected Watches during games. Thus, when TAG Heuer invited me to attend this year’s MLS All-Star Game in San Jose, it seemed fitting that I should take the opportunity to spend a few days with the Connected Watch myself and put it through its paces on a busy, activity-filled three-day trip. What follows is essentially my MLS All-Star Diary.
The TAG Heuer Connected Watch, with charger, arrives at my New York office via messenger. The first step, as with pretty much all smartwatches, is to download an app to my smartphone to synch it with the watch. After a quick, fruitless search of the Apple app store yields no results for “TAG Heuer Connected”, I remember that the watch is powered by Android Wear technology, and thus must download the Android Wear app. A quick search, a quick download, and I’m set. The watch’s dial shows signs of life.
Knowing I have a short window in which to familiarize myself with the watch’s various functions, I immediately attach the charger to the back of the watch and plug it into an outlet. Helpfully, the watch’s dial promptly lights up with the percentage of power remaining, so I have a good idea of how long I’ll need to get it charged up to full power. (TAG Heuer says the watch runs a full day on a 100% charge, and I found this to be fairly accurate.) When the dial reads “100%” I remove the watch from the charger, strap its sporty, perforated rubber strap to my wrist and begin playing. I recall that there are three analog-style dial options — one of the main elements that makes this watch distinct from the Apple Watch and its brethren — and choose the classic three-register Carrera chronograph dial in black. After a short trial-and-error period of tapping, sweeping, and pushing the crown, I discover how to start, stop, and reset the chronograph function with a few taps to the watch’s touch-screen dial. Curious, I sweep over to the GMT dial and am initially frustrated in my attempts to similarly re-set the digital GMT hand by tapping. I sweep back to my chronograph dial and file this away to figure out later.
As my flight from New York’s JFK airport to San Francisco begins taxiing on the runway, and I heed the usual announcements from the flight crew to put all smartphones into airplane mode, I do a quick scroll through the “Settings” menu and find that, yes, the watch also has an airplane mode. Just to make sure all the bases are covered, I toggle the airplane mode “on” for the duration of the flight.
Upon touching down at SFO, I take both watch and phone out of airplane mode and initially expect the watch’s dial to instantly switch to the local time. No dice: since it’s synched to my iPhone via Bluetooth, I first have to change the time zone on that device first. Once that’s done, the watch’s hands move swiftly to West Coast time. A simple, mechanical watch only requires a few manual turns of the crown to reset the time, of course, but then again, you’d have to reset your smartphone anyway, so you wouldn’t really be saving any steps.
My fellow media guests and I are shuttled from the airport to our digs for the next few days, the luxurious Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay. I check in at the front desk in the main hotel of this oceanfront resort, then catch a quick ride over to the guest house on the property’s grounds where I’m staying. I make a note to walk back to the main building, for TAG Heuer’s cocktail reception and dinner at the hotel’s Navio restaurant, later on that evening, both to get some much-needed exercise and to use the chronograph to time how long I’ll need to go back and forth over the next day or so.
The watch’s alarm function rouses me from jet-lagged slumber and I take it from the nightstand, where it has been charging overnight, strap it back on and scroll to the weather app, which is now, of course, synched up to the one on my phone. A glance at the dial gives me my first lesson in Northern California’s notoriously wide-ranging microclimates. It’s just 57º F, at least 20º cooler than when I landed in San Fran the day before and at least 30º cooler than the heat-wave-plagued New York City that I left about 24 hours ago. Finding myself wishing I’d packed a light jacket for this trip — and marveling at the irony that I have essentially flown from New York to California in late July for colder temps rather than warmer ones — I walk over to the main building for breakfast.
During breakfast, as a I continue scrolling through the watch’s functionalities, I decide to bring up the fitness app, which counts your steps and sets a daily default goal of 10,000. Noting that yesterday’s tally fell far short of that number — to be fair, I was sitting on an airplane for much of the afternoon — I make it one of my goals during this review period to hit that number at least once. I decide my best way to achieve that is to take a long morning walk on one of the Half Moon Bay resort’s dedicated trails, which wind through the property’s famous golf course and offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Toward the end of my scenic stroll, I notice the watch vibrating on my wrist alerting me to a text from the TAG Heuer representative coordinating my group’s activities, informing me that the Ritz-Carlton’s spa staff has managed to squeeze me in for a massage treatment that I’d requested the previous day. I pick up the pace and head back to the hotel to prepare. Checking the step count as I reach my room, I see I’ve already exceeded yesterday’s total. So far, so good.
The MLS All-Star Game kicks off at 4:30 PM Pacific Time and I am reminded that I had still been meaning to switch my digital watch face over to the GMT dial, if only to keep track of the time back east so I’ll know when it’s getting too late to call home. Fortunately, Müller is kind enough to help me out here, showing me the pull-down menu that I missed before that allows the wearer to re-set the GMT hand (as an added, user-friendly feature, the GMT dial displays the 24-hour second time zone digitally as well as with the analog hand). I make my call home at halftime, with the match tied 1-1 — as I had hoped, the competitive juices are flowing moreso than at most All-Star Games, from both the players and fans; there is actually a large contingent of very vocal Arsenal boosters here, along with the expected fans of the hometown Earthquakes, who are represented by forward Chris Wondolowski and goalkeeper David Bingham.