Swiss watchmakers are under pressure from rising sales of smartwatches

Tag Heuer releases premium Android smartwatch

Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer has released its first smartwatch on Google’s Android Wear platform.

The device, named Tag Heuer Connected, was co-developed with Google and will be one of the priciest smartwatches on the market at a cost of $1,500 (£993).

Internally, the watch is powered by an Intel Atom processor, a 410 mAh battery, and features 1GB of RAM with 4GB of storage.

It is housed in titanium casing with a black rubber strap and its use of digital watch hands is designed to replicate the look of a classical watch.

One thousand units are immediately available in 15 stores across the United States with Britain, Germany, and Japan following in the coming days.

The watch electronically tethers to a phone and can respond to voice commands and finger swipes similar to other Android Wear devices.

It can give the weather, set up a calendar reminder or tell the wearer how many steps she or he has walked that day.

Tag Heuer chief executive Jean-Claude Biver described the Connected watch as a way to get new customers and warm them up to traditional watches.

"The Apple Watch will never be eternal," he said at an event in New York. "Our watch will. It's a big advantage."

Customers will be able to swap their device for a mechanical watch at the end of a two year warranty if they pay $1,500 more, a strategy Biver said allows the company to protect its traditions and cater to younger clientele who might be tempted by Apple.

Although traditional Swiss watchmakers have largely steered clear of the smart device market, watch exports from the country faced the biggest drop since 2009 in the third quarter of this year.

A 14.5 per cent decrease in the £150-£350 category is fuelling concerns the Apple Watch and other similar devices might be taking market share.

Biver expanded on some of the difficulties faced by Swiss manufacturers in the sector: "If you want to offer a smartwatch as sophisticated and complete as the Apple Watch, that is practically impossible for a Swiss company alone.

"We cannot develop microprocessors to that level. Many Swiss watch brands are not keen on partnerships. We were keen because I believed that my price range could be hit by the competition of smartwatches," he said.

The Tag Heuer Connected is initially being produced at Intel manufacturing sites.

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