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 dated internals. You’ll mostly be paying for the TAG Heuer and Nintendo name.
TAG Heuer’s website is still counting down the time to the 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 of RAM, 8GB of storage, a 1.39-inch, 454×454 OLED display, a 430 mAh battery, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, water resistance, and a heart-rate sensor. In terms of the computer hardware, you could get the same thing from a $300 Wear OS device.
What you are getting is TAG Heuer design and materials, like a steel watch body and a superhard sapphire touchscreen. The hardware has a few Mario-specific touches, like a mushroom, warp pipe, and a star for the 3, 6, and 9-hour indicators on the bezel. The watch crown and clasp have engraved “M” logos, just like Mario’s cap. There also seem to be two watchbands: one red rubber strap and another black leather strap with red highlights.
As for the software, there are four exclusive Mario-themed watch faces. The three icons around the bezel are actually part of a step-tracking mode. A ring starts at 12 o’clock and will wind around the perimeter 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 an appropriate animation play celebrating your step progress, and Mario will slide down a flagpole at the end (here’s a video).
As usual, we can’t overstate how old and slow Qualcomm’s smartwatch SoCs are. Qualcomm hasn’t improved the fundamentals of its smartwatch chips since their original release. In 2014, the first-ever Android Wear devices used four 28 nm ARM Cortex A7 CPUs, and seven years later (2021), this $2,000 watch is still using four 28 nm Cortex A7 CPUs. After six years of strangling the Wear OS ecosystem with poor hardware, Qualcomm did release the Snapdragon Wear 4100 with updated specs last year: a still-not-great four ARM Cortex A53 CPU on a 12 nm process. But by now, most vendors have left Wear OS, and the SoC has not seen great adoption.
Wear OS is also about to undergo a major upheaval later this year, which will probably leave the Mario watch in the dust. Samsung is dropping its Tizen OS and teaming up with Google to resurrect Wear OS for what’s being called “Wear OS 3.0.” With more modern smartwatch hardware featuring a Samsung-made SoC, Wear OS has a chance of being competitive again. With limited CPU power, it’s currently unlikely that 7-year-old hardware like this TAG Heuer watch will be able to make the jump to version 3.0 or that the user experience will be any good if it does upgrade. The last word from Google, in response to Qualcomm, was a chilly “User experience is a top priority for us. We have not confirmed eligibility or timeline on 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 any Nintendo merch “too expensive” after that $1.5 million Mario 64 auction the other day, and with only 2,000 units being made, Mario watches will certainly be rare items. The watch will go on sale tomorrow at TAG Heuer’s site and a few boutique retail stores. If you’re not interested in spending $2,000 but really want a Super Mario smartwatch in your life, consider setting a Mario image as the background on an Apple Watch.
Listing image by TAG Heuer