If you were in the market for a luxury smartwatch and weren’t quite won over by the first two Tag Heuer Connected watches, Tag has now taken care of all possible concerns in its own poised, chic game of Whac-A-Mole. Too big? Bam. Too expensive? Bam. Want slightly higher specs to futureproof it? Bam bam. Battery life aside, the Modular 41 comes highly recommended – we can’t wait for the even smaller Modular 39.
Connected Modular 45 and 41 models
- Stunning design
- Everything is customisable
- Upgraded screen and performance
- Fit can be rigid
- Go easy on battery life
We’ve been lusting after the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 since it left our wrists early last year. But for some, the luxury, customisable Android Wear watch was just a bit too much. Too big, too heavy, just a bit too expensive.
Enter the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41. Not only is it smaller and slimmer than the Modular 45, it arrives with an upgraded screen and tech – not to mention the fact this comes in at a slightly lower price, for the starter model at least. At $1,200 it still starts at three times the price of a regular Android Wear watch and while you get a very high spec screen here, for instance, it’s still essentially the same experience.
Tag is very happy with the performance of its smartwatches so far but there’s no doubt the Modular 41 will open it up to an even wider audience.
So how does it stack up to the larger Tag Heuer Connecteds?
Design and build
The first thing to note about the Modular 41 is that it’s the Modular 41 – not the even smaller, womens focused Modular 39 we were expecting next. As such it’s designed as a unisex watch to fit wrists which wouldn’t be comfortable lugging around the 45mm Tag smartwatch, not a women’s watch. So that’s how we’ll treat it.
This is every bit as polished, well built and luxe feeling as you’d want it to be – when you’ve got it on, you’ll just keep looking at it for no reason. The case is smooth, cold grade 5 titanium, there’s flat, scratchproof sapphire crystal over the touchscreen and the steel bezel is beautifully finished with chronograph style numbers 0 – 60 and indices. It’s also water resistant to 50m – handy. There’s nine interchangeable straps to choose from with three new styles: pink, blue and white leather, all with a rubber base for comfort.
Next to the superbly finished crown – with the Tag logo on – on the right edge of the watch case, you’ll find the mic for interacting with Google Assistant – nice place to put it. Plus you’ll find the all-important ‘Swiss Made’ right there on the lower case.
As before, you can swap out the lugs as well as the straps even to the extent of swapping in a Calibre 5 mechanical watch module – making it a truly customisable, modular watch. The straps are easy to pop off and on if you know how: the metal lugs detach with them. Just trust us – don’t read the instruction manual unless you want to get lost in “perpendicularly” jiggling things and dealing with “lug entities”.
The Modular 41 has got that luxury weight about it and at 13.2mm thick, it’s slimmer than the Modular 45 at 13.75mm but still looks quite beefy next to the 11.4mm thick Apple Watch Series 3.
That said, both our reviewers who wore the Modular 41 did find it to be somewhat uncomfortable to wear – perhaps down to the form of the lugs, or perhaps down to the smaller strap, it tends to clamp to your wrist. This will depend on personal fit, of course, but we’d recommend trying it out in person before you buy to check for yourself.
The upgraded screen on the Modular 41, probably the biggest difference between the two models, puts it up there and just behind the LG Watch Sport’s 1.38-inch, 348ppi display. The 1.2-inch, fully round AMOLED screen is gorgeous – it’s bright enough, at max 350 nits, to see outside in daylight and seriously sharp with a resolution of 390 x 390 which works out at 326ppi.
Both text and animations look crisp and very pleasing, particularly on the precisely styled, customisable watch faces which do a good job of showing off all the pixels. To be honest, it’s let down slightly by some of Android Wear’s still dull interfaces but there’s not much to be done about that at this stage.
On the Modular 45 we noticed some screen warping around the edge of the display but didn’t spot anything similar here suggesting Tag has solved this particular problem.
Android Wear and features
When the Modular 45 launched in early 2017, Android Wear 2.0 was a big deal. Now it’s standard and this does everything an Android Wear watch should – there’s NFC for Android Pay which, we should note, is still lacking on a fair few fashion and luxury watches (cough, Fossil Group) if not on the sporty tech side.
As we mentioned, there’s Google Assistant onboard and the mic picked up our voice just fine. You can download apps directly to the smartwatch from the Play Store though there’s only Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity here, no standalone 4G.
The Tag Heuer Studio for selecting exclusive, built-in watch faces and customising them should be popular – it’s easy to use and fun to get tinkering with the base, dials etc. Unless you really mess it up, all of the curated watch faces – both analog and digital styles – enhance the overall luxury look. You can also choose to set a personal photo as the watch face.
You can store music on the watch itself too, though, and here another Tag upgrade – from 4GB to 8GB of storage could really make this feature usable, perhaps for runners.
The Modular 41 is more powerful than its larger predecessor too, running on Intel’s Cloverdale Peak processor with 1GB RAM to play with. The screen is also super responsive which we really appreciate after double swiping on a lesser watch screen recently and performance in and out of apps is stellar. None of the occasional sluggishness we saw on the 45. It’s nice to see Tag tweaking the innards each time it releases a model.
The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41 boasts GPS, which means it will be able to track outdoor workouts. You can pick one of Android Wear’s big name workout apps, such as Strava or Endomondo, but tested with the stock Google Fit app. And sadly, things didn’t quite go to plan.
Starting the app was seamless enough, and the Tag Heuer actually locked onto a GPS satellite faster than the Garmin Fenix 5 it was being tested against. However, over a 10km run, the Tag Heuer only tracked 9.1km – which isn’t brilliant.
It also wasn’t the most comfortable to run with, as the metal body is pretty weighty – that’s where epic build quality comes back to haunt you. Serious runners will have a proper GPS watch anyway, but we’d expect distances to be recorded properly.
One fairly big change between the Modular 45 and this smartwatch is the decrease in battery size from 410mAh to 345mAh. Now, the Modular 41’s screen is smaller – 1.2-inch versus the 45’s 1.39-inch – so you can assume this is why Tag Heuer felt confident it wouldn’t impact the stamina too much.
Still, we felt that this Tag ran down quite quickly in normal use (not in battery saver mode) and you’re looking at a day’s battery at best. Plus it still takes two hours to charge from dead – annoying but not so much if you get in the habit of charging it overnight. That bundled charging cradle is unsurprisingly lush, though. Everyone else, take notes.