We’re in a weird transition period with Android smartwatches, and that means you should be very careful about buying a Wear OS smartwatch right now—especially ones like the limited edition Super Mario smartwatch that Tag Heuer announced today.
Tag Heuer’s Super Mario Connected smartwatch is a whopping $2,150. For that price, you’re paying for exclusivity—Tag will only be making 2,000 of these. As for the Super Mario part, you’re getting subtle hardware touches like Mario-themed pushers and watch faces. According to Tag Heuer’s press release, there’s also a gamification system where you see special animations when you hit 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of your daily step goal. When the clock hits 3 p.m., Mario gets big with a Super Mushroom. He travels down a pipe at the 6 o’clock position, a Super Star at 9 o’ clock and climbs the Goal Pole when you hit 100%. Tag Heuer says this is inspired by the “famous Easter egg concept” that gamers go bonkers for.
But aside from the Mario theme, this is a fairly basic smartwatch. It’s got a 45mm case, it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters and lasts about a day on a charge. Since it’s a Wear OS watch, you’ll get the usual features like Google Assistant and access to the Play Store for third-party apps. Tag Heuer is also including its own Sport, Golf, and Wellness apps. There are also basic sensors, like a heart rate monitor, compass, and accelerometer. Luxury smartwatches have been around for a while, so it’s not like this is the first to overcharge for a name brand. Montblanc, Louis Vuitton—they’re all guilty of it.
But Google and Samsung announced in May that they were working on a new, unified version of Wear OS that will launch later this year. It was a massive announcement that will likely alter the smartwatch landscape. As far as we know right now, the first watches that are confirmed to feature the new unified platform will be two forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Watches. (If rumors are to be believed, we may get an official glimpse as soon as Aug. 11.) This likely means this limited edition Mario smartwatch will be running the current, soon-to-be-outdated Wear OS. Nowhere in Tag Heuer’s press materials does it say whether it’ll support an upgrade to the new platform. Gizmodo reached out to Tag Heuer to clarify these details, but didn’t immediately receive a response.
That makes things tricky. We currently don’t know which smartwatches running the current Wear OS will get an upgrade. Any smartwatch running the Qualcomm Snapdragon Snapdragon 3100 or 4100 processors should be able to handle the new software, but that doesn’t mean existing Wear OS smartwatches with compatible hardware will get the new platform. For instance, Fossil just outright said its existing Wear OS smartwatches will not get any upgrade. Fossil smartwatches are much more affordable than Tag Heuer or other luxury smartwatches, but they still fall into the same design-first category. Google itself has also remained vague as to eligibility, timelines, and how much support existing Wear OS smartwatches will get once the new unified platform launches. And look, while we always love to see extended software support, it’s not reasonable to expect Google to half-heartedly support the current Wear OS indefinitely—especially not after its been criticized for years for neglect and incremental updates.
It bears repeating: Be super skeptical of any new Wear OS smartwatch launches right now. Be even more skeptical if the company doesn’t clarify whether the watch will be eligible for upgrades to the new platform. If you’re interested in an Android-friendly smartwatch, you’re much better off waiting to see where the dust settles before making a buying decision. Or, if you don’t have much faith in the new platform, at least Samsung’s committed to three years of support after launch for its Tizen OS smartwatches.
So taking all this into account, who the hell is this Super Mario smartwatch for? Rich people with no ounce of tech savvy? Also, according to Engadget, there’s a possibility that the Mario watch faces will become available to other Tag Heuer Connected watches down the line. So some of this stuff may not even be exclusive to this particular watch. At the end of the day, you’re really paying $2,150 for subtle Super Mario hardware finishes on a smartwatch that may not last you a very long time.
It’d be one thing if this was the most elegant Super Mario smartwatch to ever exist. But it’s not. At a glance, it looks like nearly every other round-faced smartwatch I’ve ever seen, with fewer features, and not-so-great battery life. Let me save you some trouble and some money: Here are some adorable Seiko watches with a retro Mario theme on eBay. Go wild.