Tag Heuer, with its new pals Google and Intel, has just announced its first smartwatch: the Tag Heuer Connected, a premium Android Wear device that will set you back a whopping US$1,500.

That's leaps and bounds ahead of the nearest Android Wear competition in terms of asking price, although the Apple Watch has the Connected beat with its Edition models. And traditional Swiss watches can certainly be a lot pricier, depending on model and features.

Still, given the mostly identical software, is it worth it when you can buy a Moto 360 for considerably less? We went metacarpals-on to find out.

Large and in charge

The first thing you notice is that the Connected is surprisingly light. It's made from Grade 2 titanium, which Wikipedia tells us is pure, unalloyed titanium - good enough for medical implants, although obviously it's not recommended that you put this watch inside you.

The screen is made from scratch-proof sapphire crystal, but the strap is rubber. Having used the Apple Watch Edition extensively with a metal strap, we'd say these sound like sensible choices - you want a smartwatch to be light and snug on the wrist. And at a very robust 46mm across, it is definitely a man-watch.

There's an antireflective display, and when the Connect is in ambient mode, there's no backlight. It seems quite sensitive to movement in that the screen wakes very easily, relieving you of the need to flick the watch into waking up. The single side button has a softly confident click to it, one of those small but important details that help provide the difference between a mass-produced piece of consumer electronics and a fancy expensive watch.

Ritzy - or not

While the main body of the watch and its clasp are of futuristic aluminium, the rear is plastic. That definitely detracts from the idea that this is a fancy watch that will last for many years, particularly given the price. The rear is also free of sensors: with no heart rate monitor and no independent GPS, this is not a sports watch, although it is IP67 water resistant. 

A key part of the design - and what helps set the Connected apart from other Google-powered watches - are the three Tag faces that add a classic Swiss-watch overlay to Android Wear.

The Chronograph and three-hand faces are nice, but it's the Themed face that makes the most sense, with extra information such as alarm times or step count contained in the three small dials beneath the main hands.

Atom bomb?

Tag Heuer's watch is powered by an Intel Atom chipset, which is unusual for a smartwatch - the recently announced Fossil Q is the only other wristputer to run on an Atom. But the chip giant is clearly very keen on wearables, so expect to see more Intel-based watches in the near future. 

If you decide that you don't want a little computer in your watch, then when your two-year guarantee expires, you can take it into a Tag Heuer shop, pay another US$1500, and they'll give you a classic Carrera mechanical watch.

If this sounds a lot like you'd just be buying another watch, it's because that's exactly what you would be doing. But with a regular Carrera costing around US$3500, it's more that you're buying an expensive watch in instalments rather than just throwing it away and buying a new one.

Initial verdict

The Tag Heuer Connected won't be the last smartwatch you'll see from a luxury watchmaker. The traditional watch industry seems to have accepted the idea that its products are being replaced by smartwatches.

I'm not so sure, though. I think the real problem the expensive Swiss watch industry faces is not that its products are being superseded, but that expensive Swiss watches are no longer in fashion. The Rolex used to be a byword for manfulness and authority, but that age seems to be passing.

So is there value in spending big on a half-step between the two? I'm not fully convinced from my initial hands-on, but I'm eager to log more time with this big, boastful smartwatch to see if Android Wear's true luxury turn really is the Google watch's best face.

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Where to buy Tag Heuer Connected: