The unlikely combination of TAG Heuer and Nintendo has announced the “TAG Heuer Connected ✕ Super Mario Limited Edition” smartwatch. Like previous TAG Heuer Connected watches, this is an extremely expensive ($2,150) Wear OS smartwatch with extremely outdated internals. You usually pay for the name TAG Heuer and Nintendo.
TAG Heuer’s website is still counting down the time to its July 15 release date, but several sites have already published the details of the watch. The specs match the 2020 TAG Heuer Connected, so that means a 45mm watch with a Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, a 1.39-inch, 454×454 OLED display, a 430 mAh battery, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, waterproofing and a heart rate sensor. As for the computer hardware, you could get the same thing from a $300 Wear OS device.
What you get is TAG Heuer design and materials, such as a steel watch case and a super hard sapphire touchscreen. The hardware has a few Mario-specific details, such as a mushroom, warp pipe and a star for the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock indicators on the bezel. The crown and clasp of the watch have engraved “M” logos, just like Mario’s cap. There also appear to be two watch straps: a red rubber strap and another black leather strap with red accents.
As for the software, there are four exclusives Mario-themed watch faces. The three icons around the edge are actually part of a step-tracking mode. A bezel starts at 12 o’clock and will rotate around the circumference of the watch face as you get closer to your step goal. As you cross the icon thresholds at 3, 6, and 9, you’ll see a matching animation that celebrates your step progress, and Mario will slide down a flagpole at the end (here’s a video).
As usual, we can’t stress enough how old and slow Qualcomm’s SoCs for smartwatches are. Qualcomm hasn’t improved the fundamentals of its smartwatch chips since their original release. In 2014, the very first Android Wear devices used four 28nm ARM Cortex A7 CPUs, and seven years later (2021), this $2,000 watch still uses four 28nm Cortex A7 CPUs. After six years of strangling the Wear OS ecosystem with poor hardware, Qualcomm released the Snapdragon Wear 4100 last year with updated specs: a still-not-great four ARM Cortex A53 CPU on a 12nm process. But now most vendors have abandoned Wear OS and the SoC has not become very popular.
Wear OS is also about to undergo a major upheaval later this year, which will likely leave the Mario watch in the dust. Samsung is dropping its Tizen OS and is teaming up with Google to revive Wear OS for what is being dubbed “Wear OS 3.0”. With more modern smartwatch hardware featuring a Samsung-made SoC, Wear OS has a chance to be competitive again. With limited CPU power, it’s currently unlikely that 7-year-old hardware like this TAG Heuer watch can make the jump to version 3.0 or that the user experience will be good if upgraded. Google’s final word, in response to Qualcomm, was a chilly “User experience is a top priority for us. We haven’t confirmed whether any Wear OS smartwatch will update to the new unified platform.” So don’t be surprised if your $2,000 watch doesn’t get any updates.
It’s hard to call Nintendo merchandise “overpriced” after that $1.5 million Mario64 recently auctioned, and with only 2,000 units made, Mario watches are sure to be rare items. The watch will go on sale tomorrow on TAG Heuer’s site and a few boutique stores. If you’re not interested in spending $2,000, but really one SuperMario smartwatch in your life, consider setting a Mario image as the wallpaper on an Apple Watch.
Frame image by TAG Heuer