It’s not an exaggeration to describe Tag Heuer as a heavy hitter when it comes to the overall evolution of the modern chronograph. Through meticulous craftsmanship, it’s made meaningful and important contributions by devising the Calibre 11 and developing the oscillating pinion. When anything involves elapsed time, then motorsports usually are not far off. In the same vein, TAG Heuer isn’t lagging behind either. The brand is synonymous for racing sports and adventurous bravado fused together with sentimental yearnings of past times.
In the 70’s and 80’s, widely considered the golden age of Formula 1, all the famous daredevils such as Gilles Villeneuve, Ayrton Senna, and Niki Lauda flamboyantly displayed their Carreras, Monacos, Silverstones, and Autavias on every occasion. For many people, TAG Heuer is connected to Steve McQueen, since his Monaco is glamorously featured in the film classic Le Mans. It was a screen appearance that launched the fame of the rectangular sports watch, even significantly helping it to achieve a cult-like following.
What’s changed since then? Other than that TAG Heuer’s most prominent emissaries are now Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkönnen as well as its perpetual involvement in motor racing, not a whole lot. Since 2015, the TAG Heuer Monaco Steve McQueen is once again equipped with the renowned Calibre 11 and ready to roar on your wrist while zipping along personal motorways. It’s been tuned-up for a modern day market while still staying in-sync with the original and makes the eyes of collectors, nostalgists, and racing sports enthusiasts’ alike shine with renewed passion.
Rich in testosterone and as edgy as the spoiler of a Porsche 917, in which the Monaco in the movie Le Mans achieved cult status. During its introduction in 1969, the chronograph was already an eye-catcher. Today the Monaco, due mostly to the symbolism of racing sports and its personification embodied in Steven McQueen, is legendary and just right for all the watch wearers that are as unique as this timepiece itself.
Next to the Monaco, the Carrera is the second legendary chronograph series that is also represented in their most recent collection. In comparison with its rectangular contemporary and the elliptical Autavia, the visual appearance is more natural. It isn’t just a pure sports model, but also a watch that can handsomely compliment a business suit. Next to the Carrera chronographs, there are multiple three handed watches without a stop function in the most recent series. With their sporty characteristics, they stand out as the visual embodiment of racing sports.
TAG Heuer possesses a technically mature savoir faire for the production of robust sports watches, which serves its water and diving sports enthusiasts with its Aquaracer. However, diving watches aren’t just a representation of charting new territory in the recent past. The fabrication of water resistant watches reaches as far back as the late 19th century. At that time, waterproof pocket watches were constructed and assembled by Heuer long before Rolex brought its first one out on the market. Keeping the Aquaracer in mind, it’s apparent that its design closely follows in the footsteps of its well-known fellows from Omega and Rolex.
In 2012, TAG Heuer presented the most accurate mechanical watch of the world, the Carrera Mikrogirder. It is capable of depicting time intervals up to 5/10,000 of a second. The most accurate electromagnetic stopwatch is even more precise. It was used for the first time in 2004 at the Indy 500. In 2006, it presided over victory and defeat with exactly 2 ten thousandths of a second. For the sake of comparison, a mechanical watch that swings with the standard of 28,800 oscillations only measures exactly an 8th of a second.
The Heuer Stopwatch was firmly on the wrist of the American Astronaut John Glenn as he journeyed 3 times around the globe. Having said that, this time keeper wasn’t the first to complete such an incredible feat, yet it still was the first Swiss watch in space.
From 1920 until 1928, the keeping of all time at the Olympic Games was conducted by TAG Heuer. It more than proved its merits a total of three times before Omega regularly took over.
The calibre 11, in a collaborative development between the brands TAG Heuer, Breitling, and Buren and Dubois?Dépraz was one of the first three automatic chronograph movements (next to the Zenith El Primero and the Seiko 6139). Special features of this calibre are the fixated crown on the left side and the local micro rotor (we’ve already reported all about micro rotors here).
In the year 1887, Edouard Heuer developed the oscillating pinion, which simplified the production of chronographs significantly. This was decisive in forging ahead in the mass production of modern chronographs. Just imagine the oscillating pinion as a type of clutch that affects the movement either with the stopped time or with the ongoing second.
1860: Heuer is founded in St. Imier by Edouard Heuer. It discovers early on athletic oriented precision time measuring.
1882: Heuer presents its first stop watch and Edouard Heuer patents this invention.
1887: Five years after Heuer patented his first creation, he develops the oscillating pinion, a milestone in the development of the modern chronograph.
1963: The Carrera becomes a part of the current Heuer collection.
1964: After an alliance with Leonidas, Heuer-Leonidas is created.
1969: The legendary Heuer Autavia wristwatch is launched.
1969: Collaborating together, Heuer, Breitling, and Dubois-Dépraz produce and present the Calibre 11 as one of the first 3 automatic chronograph movements. The Calibre 11 was also used in the Heuer Monaco.
1974: Silverstone becomes a permanent part of the Heuer collection.
1976: The Heuer Monza is launched due to Niki Lauda’s Formula 1 World Championship title in 1975.
1983: TAG Heuer presents the first worldwide quartz chronograph.
1985: Heuer-Leonidas fuses with TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) and forms the company TAG Heuer.
2010: The Calibre 11 enjoys a Renaissance. From this point on, TAG Heuer concentrates more on its heritage by resurrecting several classic timepieces. The use of the name Heuer demonstrates an air of this pre-TAG sentimentality.
2015: TAG Heuer launches the first Swiss luxury smartwatch with the newly introduced CONNECTED line.
2019: The Monaco collection celebrates its 50th birthday.
TAG Heuer, as an official sponsor and outfitter of the Ferrari Team had the good fortune to experience two world titles that Niki Lauda won. In 1976, Heuer honoured Lauda’s first championship by launching the Monza tribute. Just like Lauda, his team colleague Clay Regazzoni also displayed the Heuer emblem on the right side of his chest and wore a Silverstone himself. Typically, they were also present on the wrists of racers as fashion accessories both in and outside of the cockpits of Ferrari, Lotus, etc., not least of which was due to the good relationship the racer Jo Siffert enjoyed to Jack Heuer. At the time, they were widely considered a fashion accessory in and outside of the cockpits of Ferrari, Lotus, and Co. Ambassadors for the brand, among others, were Gilles Villeneuve, James Hunt, and Ayrton Senna.
TAG Heuer is still the first choice of racing pits in Formula 1. Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raiköönen, Fernando Alonso, and Jenson Button are all admirers of the brand. Jack Heuer himself once visited Rolex in the United States. He saw the flagship store walls decorated with celebrities happily showing off their luxurious timepieces. It wasn’t long before he quickly came to the realisation that famous personalities still like to be flashy and show off their expensive watches even when they aren’t on the raceway, on the big screen, or in a concert hall.
The list of dedicated Heuer fans is long and distinguished, whose more prominent examples include Leonardo DiCaprio, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mick Jagger, Tiger Woods, Cameron Diaz, and Maria Sharapova. TAG Heuer doesn’t even brake shortly before the White House’s chambers of power, and has managed to win over US President Barack Obama as a full-fledged fan. The President also regularly wears a TAG Heuer Aquaracer, next to his Jorg Gray, that was given to him by the Secret Service. What special features the watch might have (omitting a signal to Bo the White House dog that it’s time for dinner or having a red phone line directly to Putin) at President Obama’s sole discretion remains, top-secret.