Partnerships The super collaboration story of the TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition

This is the story of a connected watch that’s got way more in store than mere technological genius. Teams worked day and night to create this watch; we’ll take you behind the scenes of a timepiece that's already a legend—and owes a lot to a certain mustachioed character. Follow the red cap!

It was a safe bet that sparks would fly if Super Mario and TAG Heuer united around a wrist. Merging the best of both worlds breathed new life into this limited edition watch that’s captivating gamers, watch enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to have fun while hitting their targets every day. Teams worked day and night to create this watch; we’ll take you behind the scenes of a timepiece that’s already a legend—and owes a lot to a certain mustachioed character. Follow the red cap!

Two worlds collide

It all began with a hunch. A hunch that motivated Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer, to strike up a conversation with Nintendo of Europe. He suggested they join forces to redefine the link between luxury and entertainment. They had to choose a character right away. Super Mario is a global celebrity, and it’s hard to imagine a better companion to get us through the day than this mascot who spans generations.

TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition (SBG8A13.EB0238)

Finding the right concept

The email threads got longer and longer during the year these two companies brainstormed concepts. It was still a very small team; only two people at TAG Heuer even knew about it. The idea was to find common ground that was also a playing field – where both sides wanted to give their very best. More reminiscent of a great game of tennis, many design ideas were suggested during the concept phase. This creative process was intentionally long, to foster understanding between two actors from completely different industries.

Designing the dial

Once the concept was approved, the next round was underway. The teams were now making progress on their respective sides, creating dials and the watch’s experience.

No fewer than four dials were specially developed for this limited edition.

  • TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition - Super Mario Watch Face (Animation)

Renditions

  • Animation: Animations were used to make this iconic dial highly interactive. This is where the team worked with Nintendo to ensure the watch faithfully captured Mario’s style and spirit. The difficulty was to make sure that Mario looked genuine, without losing creative freedom.

 

  • Timekeeping: The design team is extremely proud of these two dials because they are a reinterpretation of a beloved TAG Heuer chronograph display, inspired by the original Super Mario Bros. game. The beauty of collaboration!
  • Heuer 02: This one has two color schemes to satisfy keenly observant watchmaking fans. One is on the fun side and the other is more understated.

 

  • Orbital: For this limited edition, the very first dial on the TAG Heuer Connected was redesigned with Super Mario elements and exceptional animated transitions.

TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition (SBG8A13.EB0238)

The first prototypes

The physical watch was being designed as the dial came to life. They started creating this limited edition by meticulously customizing the original version of the 3rd generation TAG Heuer Connected, unveiled in March 2020.

No more classic indexes on the bezel at 3, 6 and 9. Instead, the famous elements from the Super Mario series: a Super Mushroom, Pipe, Super Star came onto the stage. The goal was to create a connection between the bezel and the dial’s interface, based on the same premise as the TAG Heuer Connected Golf, where the minutes are replaced with the number of holes on the green. It turned out to be an incredible feat of physical engineering, as the extremely detailed engraving was very complex.

Next, the gradations on the bezel, push button and crown were dyed in signature Super Mario red. The buckle and the crown were branded with the M symbol of Mario, and they created two versions of the strap: one in sleek black leather and a sportier one in red perforated rubber. The final touch was a signature on the back: “TAG Heuer x Super Mario Limited Edition.”

TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition (SBG8A13.EB0238)

One-of-a-kind interactive functionality

The entire experience of the TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition depends on user interaction, the likes of which have never been seen. It takes the standard features of a connected watch to a whole new level. Measuring is nice, but motivating is better! Every user has their own personalized Connected program that guides and encourages them to push health data in the right direction.

There’s nothing like starting your day with a good morning alongside a Mario full of smiles. As users rack up the steps, the gauge moves around the dial. Every time a milestone is reached, a surprise pops up. For example, the Super Mushroom makes Mario grow to 25% of the set goal, Mario comes out of the pipe at 50%, and at 75% the Super Star makes him invincible. A quick jog, a few flights of stairs… and watch Mario jump to the top of the Goal Pole.

While this watch was partly designed during the Covid lockdowns, it’s a tribute to the pleasure of moving freely, taking on a challenge and surpassing yourself. The team wanted to take this idea right down to the custom-made Travel Case, so you can travel with your watch and count steps on the other side of the world.

Checklist of features on the TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario

  • Diameter: 45 mm, thickness: 13.5 mm, weight: 86 g

 

  • Water-resistant to 5 bar

 

  • Battery life: one full day (6 hours in continuous sports mode)

 

  • Charging time: 90 minutes

 

  • All options on the TAG Heuer app (Sport and Wellness) with accurate readings on every workout: route, distance, duration, pace/speed, heart rate, calories and segments.

A feat of engineering: fluid motion AND battery life

A team of five developers were on deck to make the experience as flawless as possible. In a nutshell, the software had to be ultra-sparing and not hog the battery to give the watch maximum life, but also had to deliver fluid animation at optimum resolution.

The catch? It was technically impossible to use any of the video! So they had to take it apart, put it back together and find a custom solution to make the Super Mario limited edition super user-friendly. It took the team several weeks of research and development to finally strike the perfect balance.

 

“We had to push past the limits of what we knew and what’s been done in the world of connected watches.”

 

The second hitch? There were no ready-made animations, so they had to start from scratch and rebuild the character to achieve the interactions they wanted. Luckily, the developers and motion designers had great chemistry – and Mario came to life.

TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition (SBG8A13.EB0238)

From “top secret” to “here we go!”

The watch development process is always confidential, but this one was more secret than any other—and still is, as we’re writing this article! Communications were marked top secret, code names and heightened security were employed. Leaks were not an option, which made some stages of the project all the more exciting and complex, putting more than one developer in a cold sweat.

One thing is certain: the excitement that this watch created from day one made all the teams want to go above and beyond on the project. Many of the people working on the watch were born the same year as the original Super Mario Bros. game – and, in addition to their passion for watchmaking, many grew up with the games and count themselves as fans.

There are now 2,000 TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition watches for sale around the world, ready to motivate as many people to overcome their daily challenges. Here we go!