Why Intel put a smartphone chip in Tag Heuer's $1,600 smartwatch

Smartphone chips can extend the life of smartwatches, so they won't need to be replaced every few years

Do smartwatches need upgrades every few years like PCs? It's not clear yet, but Intel's powerful chip in the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45, a US $1,600 luxury smartwatch, will ensure the wearable isn't outdated anytime soon.

The smartwatch, which runs Android Wear 2.0, uses Intel's Atom Z34XX, a smartphone chip. The Atom processor seems like overkill but extends the wearable's shelf life and adds processing power for artificial intelligence, a feature Google is building in Android Wear.

The watch has a 1.39-inch AMOLED touch screen, and modularity is a big selling point of the wearable. The smartwatch's heads, straps, and other parts can be easily swapped, and buyers have the option to pick up one of 56 versions. The smartwatch can be turned into a mechanical watch by replacing the head.

Swiss watches -- like the one made by Tag Heuer -- have been treated like family heirlooms and passed down from generation to generation. Keeping the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 relevant for as long as possible was part of Intel's thinking.

Like in PCs, smartwatches could need upgrades as chips age and applications demand more resources. The Atom chip will last over multiple versions of Android Wear, said Jerry Bautista, vice president and general manager for the New Devices Group at Intel.

The processor also brings many valuable security features to the chip, which are important for mobile payments via NFC, Bautista said.

Later in the year, Intel plans to add AI features to the smartwatch via apps. For example, the smartwatch will be able to approximate when a person needs to buy milk by analyzing trends from multiple data sources. Those applications will need processing capabilities on the device, and the Atom chip can handle those needs.

Tag Heuer is stressing the "Swiss made" aspect of the smartwatch, and the wearable has interesting tech in it. It has Wi-Fi, GPS, and 4GB of flash storage, and it can run applications like Google Fit. It is water resistant for up to 50 meters, partly because all the parts have been engineered into a compact cylindrical structure. Water won't pass through the headphone jack, a unique feature. The NFC goes through the face of the watch.

The interfaces can also be customized.

A smartphone chip in the smartwatch does affect battery life. In tests, the smartwatch ran for about 30 hours before needing a recharge, according to Intel.

Intel last year said it would start making Atom smartphone chips. Older smartphone CPUs are now getting a new lease on life in devices like smartwatches. The company is optimizing chips and developing software to fit the profile of devices, Bautista said.

The wearables unit isn't a major division at Intel, unlike PCs, IoT, or servers, but the unit wants to develop software and analytics tools as the world becomes increasingly connected. Collecting and developing software for biometric data is unique to wearables, which is why Intel is interested in the area, Bautista said.

The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 smartwatch will be available worldwide starting on Tuesday.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?