TAG Heuer has long been held as one of the most eminent Swiss watch-makers. With endorsements by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tiger Woods, Uma Thurman and Brad Pitt, sponsorship of sporting events from the Olympic Games to the Formula One Grand Prix as well as a rich history dating back to the 1860s, TAG watches have long been a mark of elegance and timeless style.
In recent years, however, TAG has come to represent more than just timepieces, expanding into other areas of men’s fashion including accessories, eyewear and, most recently, mobile phones. The brand has recently announced the launch of their latest smartphone, the new ‘MERIDIIST,’ which will become available in September. The phone is described as “the high-end classic design and finishes of a luxury TAG Heuer watch, the finest materials of horology, artisan expertise and avant-garde engineering.”
Clearly the brand is attempting to break in to the smartphone market, which is quickly becoming one of the most significant luxury products. But with a price tag of $3,700 (and up), what is the consumer actually buying? Without having used the phone, I cannot comment on the usability of the device. However, let us assume that the “powerful Android operating system” is up to current smart-phone standards. The phone comes equipped with an 8-megapixel camera, 16-million color-screen resolution and a shockproof construction operating on the Android OS. Thus, in terms of both software and hardware, the phone seems on par with the highest of smart-phone standards. Additional options include custom crocodile skin, jewels and other accessories.
What is disappointing is the design. TAG have clearly tried to amalgamate elements of their classic watch design into the aesthetics of the phone. With a large silver frame, a vaguely hexagonal shape and an auto-lock button in the form of a traditional watch crown, the phone is indeed reminiscent of a TAG timepiece. Yet this is not a watch: it is a phone. The emphasis should be on the effectiveness and usability of the touch screen, not the structure of the phone itself. TAG’s odd phone-watch amalgamation looks chunky, awkward and uncomfortable to use. It is far removed from the thin, sleek and stylish designs of the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4, the leading competitors in the market.
When it comes to luxury items the question ‘Is it worth it?’ is not something that can really be asked. Ultimately what the consumer is purchasing here is status, luxury and elegance – ideals that are priceless. Yet with hefty price tags (upwards of $6,000 with options), one expects high-class design. And sadly the Meriidist is a sad disappointment. Whether the TAG brand name is enough for luxury consumers to overlook poor design choices, only time will tell.