"Look at me, Mr. Big Shot on the course. Ha. Get it?" Even on the links with my golf aficionado father, I couldn't escape his pun-ishment. He followed up his sarcastic quip with a series of exaggerated arm movements, parading the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition smartwatch wrapped around his wrist.
Crafted like a designer item, this $1,850 luxury smartwatch is the device for the golfer who already has everything. If you could imagine any extra for a wearable short of having a real caddy with you, the Intel chip-packed, 45mm TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition has it. I took the golf watch out to the links with my dad to put its fancy features — and my tolerance for his wordplay — to the test.
Hitting the links
To test the watch, I played a few rounds with my dad, Jeff, who has golfed for more than 30 years In that time, he’s seen every evolution of every gadget targeted for the game. So it's not often he'll admit he's impressed, but it's also not often he's wearing a $1,850 watch from a high-end golf label. Upon swapping out his $150 Garmin S20 for the sexy TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition, he practically outran the golf cart to the first hole's tee at an eastern Long Island locale.
I enjoyed seeing him so giddy at the start, but as the round progressed, some of the watch's software flaws made themselves as obvious. Partly to blame on his lack of WearOS familiarity, my dad's complaints could more or less be qualmed by patience and practice: two virtues of the game he calls his passion.
Design: Rugged luxury
This smartwatch is a striking timepiece and practically begs you to flaunt it around the clubhouse. When Jeff sported the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition at a golf tournament, he felt eyes on his wrist and enjoyed the "Oooh, what's that?" conversations that ensued all day. Though he wished he had more places to wear it — his daily M.O. as a retired firefighter is more function than fussy. It looked sharp with Jeff's golf togs, but the TAG belongs with a business getup.
The white, golf-glove-like, perforated leather bands that come attached to the watch lend an on-brand athletic tone to an otherwise luxury look. Combined with a thick titanium case and scratch-resistant ceramic bezel, this watch doesn't feel fragile, which Jeffrey loved. He had no fears about roughing up the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition, whereas he'd hesitate to introduce any other $2,000 designer watch to a sporty setting.
Even in direct sunlight, the 2.5-mm sapphire-crystal case kept the AMOLED display sharp and legible. Jeffery was especially pleased with the screens' smudge-resistance. Aside from the single right-side button used to open the app menu and return to the watch face, the TAG Heuer Connected is touch-operated. Jeffrey appreciated not needing to wipe the display down every few holes.
The one issue he had was with the watch band’s short extension clasp. Though it guaranteed a snug fit, it also made the watch difficult to take on or off when wearing a golf glove.
If golfing were a fairytale (which for Jeff it kind of is), the Garmin S20 would be the toad and the TAG Heuer Connected would be the prince. Except Garmin S20 won't turn into a TAG Heuer watch if you kiss it. The two golf watches share the same spirit, but the TAG Heuer model looks regal next to the lackluster Garmin.
Wear OS: A bit better than other WearOS watches
The TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition is mighty fine to look at, but disadvantaged by a rough operating system. I wouldn't rank it even among the likes of other WearOS devices we've tested, though. It delivers on the course despite the drawbacks of Google's slow-to-improve wearable software.
The TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition offers battery-saver modes, a Google Assistant-enabled microphone and an NFC chip for Google Pay, as well as all the standard apps in the Google ecosystem. But smartphone notifications took longer than we'd like to mirror on the watch and navigation could be smoother. The cross-directional swipe gestures on the main watch screen worked well enough, but the app search sometimes resisted Jeff as if to question whether he actually wanted to open certain programs.
Unlike most WearOS watches, TAG Heuer Connected watches don't run on a Qualcomm chip. Rather, TAG partnered with Intel to design a custom chipset for its smartwatch brand. This proved favorable for the intense GPS demands of a golf watch. When using the TAG Golf app, the GPS chip took just a few seconds to recognize the course we were playing on and list several alternatives in the vicinity on the display.
As with other wearables in the TAG Heuer Connected line, the only way to return to the watch face while using an app is to press the crown button. So when Jeff questioned why the display repeatedly replaced the Golf app with the home watch face during his round, I reached out to TAG Heuer. We concluded that the wrist motion of a golf swing can engage the crown button by accident. TAG Heuer said other people have reported this issue, and the company recommends wearing the watch higher on your wrist that you normally would while golfing.
Another recommendation from TAG Heuer is to activate Do Not Disturb mode on the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition if you're looking to disconnect when you're out on the links. This way your wrist won't buzz in the middle of that crucial putt for par.
TAG Connect Apps: Multi-app operation
Operating the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition requires several apps. First, you'll need the WearOS app on your smartphone to connect your Google account information to the wearable.
You'll also need two different TAG Heuer Apps, both of which are free to download on iOS and Android. The TAG Heuer Connect App is used to register your device and design your watch faces. There's a wide range premade watch faces to choose from, including some exclusive ones from Tag Heuer ambassadors. Jeffrey was thrilled to rock a design by his favorite Premier League squad, Manchester United, on his wrist.
He also created his own look using the Tag Heuer Studio, which let us customize every minuscule detail of the watch face for our desired aesthetic.
The TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition comes loaded with TAG Heuer's impressive Golf app with 39,000 golf courses from around the world. On the watch, the app functions as a GPS, tracks shot distance, keeps track of the score and offers a hole-by-hole 2D map with hazard information.
On the phone, the Golf app amasses all the data you could want about your golf game. It tracks your score and shot distribution, as well as your overall performance at a course you've played. You can share your scores with friends, manage your handicap and get 3D renders of golf courses. The app has course phone numbers and directions conveniently available, too.
Our course maps loaded faster on the TAG Heuer Connected watch than on the Garmin S20, which surprised us. Garmin is a GPS-centric company, and the general golf watch brand of choice for players like Jeff. Jeff likes the S20 because of its accuracy. So he respected that the TAG Heuer’s location data was up to par. We even compared current yard distances on the S20 and the Connected Golf Edition and exchanged wide-eyed nods of approval as the numbers read even each time we checked.
Battery Life: Lasts a work day that started with a round
TAG Heuer advertises 25 hours of battery life for a Connected Golf Edition smartwatch in normal use. But playing golf is not considered normal use. When the Golf app is activated, the GPS zaps 12% of power per hour. So if you're slotted for an 18-hole, four-hour golf outing, you're going to use up about half your battery life. Jeff expected this from experience with his Garmin S20, which lasts about two full rounds on one charge.
Should you head to work or meetings afterward, the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition watch should still last the day. You'll see a significant difference in battery conservation when your watch isn't mapping your exact GPS location for hours straight. There's also a battery-saving mode if you're ever in a jam.
After it died, the TAG Heuer took about 2 hours to charge back to full power.
Value: Not for those on a budget
It's hard to justify bleeding $1,850 for the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition when there are excellent golf wearables for more than $1,000 less. The Garmin S20, for example, serves the same function on the links for $150.
TAG Heuer's edge comes with its Golf app, which costs $6.99 a month (or $40 a year) to use on a non-TAG Heuer watch. For a considerable sum less, you can play golf wearing an Apple Watch and pay the subscription price for the virtual caddy.
That being said, TAG Heuer has an elevated, reputable brand name and fan base. People who are loyal to TAG Heuer products might see the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition as an exciting splurge.
Plus TAG Heuer includes a two-year warranty with purchase, though that doesn't include damage to the crystal, leather bands or battery.
If you're tasked with gift shopping for a golf aficionado, you won't find anything nicer than the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition smartwatch. It's both practical and lavish, serving as an excellent golf caddy and designer wearable. It's perfect for the business person who squeezes in games between important meetings, or even takes those important meetings out on the links.
Jeff is not that person, though. He's smitten with the look of the TAG Heuer watch, but would opt for his no-frills Garmin for golfing and consider a cheaper wearable with a superior operating system for his day-to-day. And he's turned off by the watch's lack of a heart-rate sensor.
At $1,850, the TAG Heuer Connected Golf Edition is clearly designed with TAG Heuer enthusiasts in mind. Having the Golf app preloaded certainly ups its appeal. But for $40 a year on other devices, you can access those great features without buying the most expensive wearable we've reviewed.