Google teams up with TAG to give the rich an alternative to Apple Watch

TAG's Android Wear watch is to be based on the stunning Carrera. Photo: TAG

TAG’s Android Wear watch is to be based on the stunning Carrera. Photo: TAG

With smartwatches set to take over the world, TAG Heuer is determined not to go down easy like other Swiss watchmakers. The company is teaming up with Google and Intel to build a high-end Android Wear watch that will give wealthy gadget lovers a premium alternative to Apple Watch.

The finest Android Wear devices you can buy today are the Moto 360, the LG G Watch R, and the upcoming Huawei Watch — and they’re all attractive devices with premium designs made from stainless steel and leather. But they’re not luxurious.

The wealthy demand more, which is why when Apple builds a smartwatch, it offers a $13,500 option made of 18-karat gold. Google’s answer to that is a new partnership with TAG Heuer, which has 155 years of experience in making luxury timepieces, and Intel.

At Baselworld, the international watch exhibition in Sweden, TAG today announced a new device powered by Android Wear. Thought to be a digital replica of the original Carrera watch, it’ll be the first truly premium Wear device aimed at the rich.

“We can’t produce the engine, the chips, the applications, the hardware — nobody can produce it in Switzerland,” said TAG CEO Jean-Claude Biver — which is where Intel comes in. “The hardware and the software will come from Silicon Valley. But the watch case, the dial, the design, the idea, the crown, that part of the watch will, of course, be Swiss.”

On the inside, TAG’s smartwatch is expected to be a lot like those we’ve already seen, with fitness tracking features like a GPS and a heart rate monitor. But if you strip away the fancy exterior, it probably won’t be anything particularly special.

But we’ll have to wait until the device is revealed later this year to find out exactly what the company has in store for us.

If Google’s rumored Android Wear app for iOS is here by then — and it should be — it will be interesting to see whether wealthy iPhone owners would prefer a midrange Apple Watch with a pricey metal band, or a Wear watch made by TAG.