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To celebrate the beginning of a long-term collaboration between the two brands, TAG Heuer and Nintendo have created a limited-edition smartwatch featuring Nintendo’s most famous character: the energetic Mushroom Kingdom hero, Mario, who takes over the TAG Heuer Connected.

You might have thought “It’s-a-me! Mario” was just the catchphrase of your childhood, but it’s making an unexpected – and entirely welcomed – comeback into your adulthood too. The halcyon days of rushing through the Mushroom Kingdom and the repetitive strain from pressing the ‘A’ key resurface once more, this time not only  through the screens of a Wii or DS Lite and the holy grail of Pictochat, but through a new screen: the watch face.

TAG Heuer teams up with pop culture icon Super Mario

Changing the state of play in luxury watchmaking, TAG Heuer has announced a collaboration with Nintendo offering a limited-edition smartwatch featuring the digital protagonist himself. In the game of modernisation and the race to remain relevant, TAG Heuer raises the stakes by immortalizing the internationally acclaimed game with a daring offering to the avant-garde watchmaker’s collection. 

Like the energetic Mario splicing through fire and ice to reach victory, the Swiss watchmakers have underscored this sportive collaboration with pithy intentions. “Mario is the ultimate super-active character whose perseverance and tenacity get him out of every situation,” shares CEO Frederic Arnault. “The new hero watch face gives life to this iconic character and encourages users to team up with Mario to get out there and be more active. The TAG Heuer Connected is the perfect companion for a connected life and every active person’s best friend. With this Super Mario limited-edition smartwatch, they can add a bit of fun and originality to their activities and wellness.”

Maintaining the spectacle of Mario from screen to screen

For this limited edition line, TAG Heuer’s famous Connected watch faces have been reinterpreted with Super Mario special versions, four dials revisited to include special details associated with Super Mario. The Timekeeping watch face was reskinned using the retro elements from the 1985 version of Super Mario Bros. with Mario, all in pixels. Also, two versions of the Heuer 02 watchface were created exclusively for this edition: a fun rendition using Super Mario’s iconic red and blue colours, and a more classic one with subtle touches of Super Mario’s red cap. The bezel graduation, push buttons and crown logo were filled with Super Mario’s famous red cap’s lacquered colour, making the watch instantly stand out from the core collection. 

The bezel features three iconic symbols at the three, six and nine o’clock positions, in a nod to the Super Mario objects included in the dial animations that the user can unlock and discover only when achieving goals throughout the day. The new-look steel case also comes with two novel interchangeable straps, both featuring the signature Super Mario red colour: an elegant black leather on red rubber and a sporty alternative in matching red perforated rubber.

Encouraging wellness through coveted characters 

Motivating increased daily activity, users are rewarded for their success, much like the adored Mario honoring star coins and mushrooms when victory calls. With its watchface, which becomes livelier and more animated the more the wearer is active, this edition of the TAG Heuer Connected changes as its user makes progress, for a fun and motivating way of keeping active throughout the day. The animations are based on the gamification rewards system: Mario greets you with a welcoming salute in the morning and as the day progresses and you rack up your step count, you unlock rewards at each stage of your daily target – 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% – a different animation plays out on the dial. 

Utilising this cherished game as a means to encourage physical wellness, the fortuitous partnership is one that is bridging together different schools of technology, but broadening the meaning of luxury. This novel partnership comes after the launch of Seiko’s invigorating partnership with Pokemon last year, who released timepieces in the themes of Pikachu, Eevee and Mewtwo. Adding to the collection this year, Seiko returns with an evolutionary line including Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. 

While gaming might not seem the natural environment for traditional watchmaking houses, typically found in models such as Swatch and Flik Flak rendering animations on fabric watch straps, this new alliance acknowledges the credibility of the gaming industry.  In 2020 alone, according to technology research firm IDC, worldwide revenues resulted in around $205 billion, which was double the 2015 total. Proving that gamification isn’t simply a trend but a concrete media outlet, these playful models not only serve helpings of nostalgia but also dynamize an industry by bonding the past with the present. In the same way that Super Mario Bros. dramatically revived the video game industry after the 1983 crash – met with waning interest and market saturation –  by popularizing side-scrolling through these iconic characters, the merging of these two worlds helps to revive a historic market built around tradition, forcing watchmakers to level up.  

This edition limited to 2,000 watches will be available only in selected TAG Heuer boutiques and at www.tagheuer.com in some regions, from 15th July 2021.

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Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.