Tag Heuer invited 30 watch collectors from all over the world to come to a very special event: the first presentation of the new Heuer Autavia prototype. What an opportunity to get some great insights into one of the most intriguing Swiss watch brands, its factories, and get to see some stunning vintage pieces from some high-profile Heuer collectors, which we certainly don’t want to withhold from you. On the first day, the hashtag #heuercollectorsummit created quite an impressive media buzz worldwide.
Visiting TAG Heuer and its Factories
TAG Heuer did not just invite us for a 30 minute watch presentation. Highlights were the speech held by Jean-Claude Biver (CEO TAG Heuer, and Director of the LVMH Group) as the one from Jack Heuer when he talked about the Heritage of the Heuer brand. Tag Heuer also organized two full days of events and visits and took us around to their main factory in La Chaux de Fonds, as well as to their case manufacture in Cornol, which was a good two hour drive from Neuchatel, and the movement factory in Chevenez which was not too far from Cornol. About 200,000 cases are made in Cornol and 50,000 movements in Chevenez. The case factory was also making cases for Hublot as we could see. Production processes were very high tech, the machinery rather modern and new, with a lot of robotics, yet you could still see plenty of people doing handy work. Despite all technological progress and the inroads of robotics in watchmaking, certain things are still made by hand.
Heueristi and their Watches: 6 Highly Collectible Vintage Heuers
TThere was an insane amount of first, second and third execution Autavia reference 2446 and 3646 at this get together, especially considering the true rarity of these timepieces. I have never before seen as many in one location. Not only did people bring amazing Heuer timepieces, one collector brought an amazing extraction of his Breitling collection that we might be showing at a different occasion. But as of today, it’s all about Heuer.
1. Heuer Autavia GMT
The Heuer Autavia GMT should be a reference 1163 with brown dial and was probably the most amazing watch at the event. Why? Because of the condition. The dial is evenly brown, it is not a damaged brown people, but a dial in great condition which turned tropical. A true stunner. I don't know a second one like that. It should carry a Calibre 11 which is one of the earliest automatic chronograph calibers. And, it has a microrotor. In addition, this GMT has a 24 hours bezel, but it is not the bezel with all numbers from 1 to 24 on it.
2. Heuer Silverstone "Tropical Dial"
The brown dial, or tropical dial as many people call it, Heuer Silverstone had originally a blue dial. You can still see some blue left on the left side near 9 o'clock. I have never seen such a discolored Silverstone, but I cannot deny that it looks very cool. A lovely timepiece. With patina. More than enough patina.
3. Heuer Carrera Calibre 15 Blue Dial
Most Heuer Carreras have silver dials. That's what most of us know. This is the first blue dial Heuer Carrera I saw in the flesh, and believe me, the blue dial is stunning. Hard to capture, as we were sitting under a sunroof. This watch employs the movement Calibre 15.
4. TAG Heuer Mikrograph
The large gold chronograph is from the recent Tag Heuer collection. It is actually a quite sizable watch, but the dial looks truly beautiful in this combination with its brown center. Tag Heuer created some complicated watches a few years back, which included chronographs that were able to measure 100th of a second (the Mikrograph you see here), 1000th of a second and 10000th of a second. Not sure how many of the latter ones were truly sold. The Mikrograph definitely works and is an amazing piece, and I regret not having taken a video of its functionality. Seeing is believing.
5. Heuer Carrera Black Dial
The black dial Carrera should carry reference 2447 as far as I know. Funny enough, when I was shooting the prototype, one of the collectors apparently took this watch off to try the prototype Autavia. This gave me the opportunity to shoot this stunning Carrera with black dial. Definitely the most wanted dial on this watch by collectors.
6. Heuer Skipper Blue Dial
The blue dial Heuer Skipper is probably one of the most beautiful Heuer timepieces made in the history of Heuer. It is used for yachting which is why it has a multicolored totalizator.
In addition, I have seen Heuer watches which I didn't even know existed or which I have never seen before. There was a beautiful 18k yellow gold Carrera, an 18k gold Camaro (did not know they exist), an orange dial Autavia 1163 (prototype, but put together from authentic parts and not sure if one like that was ever produced, yet a stunning piece).
A Brand That Honours its Heritage: Vintage Watch Repair Department
As Tag Heuer took us around the manufacture, we were also taken to their recently created vintage watch repair service department. Three watchmakers are currently working only on vintage timepieces. Not only that, Heuer checked and ordered their vintage watch parts inventory, and to our surprise, they showed us some incredible stock of dials and handsets and parts for their vintage timepieces. This was a true surprise. In addition, Heuer is planning to collaborate and work with vintage watch collectors to share expert knowledge and support their watchmakers that way in acquiring knowledge and learning faster and more about vintage Heuer timepieces. This sounds like a great road to be on.
Last but not least, TAG Heuer entertains a very nice museum. The collection seems to be growing as this was my second visit to the museum.
An Outlook for TAG Heuer
I enjoyed this event for many reasons. It was fun to meet new collectors who share the same passion, and it was very interesting to see all the processes and the new vintage service department at Tag Heuer. According to the people at Tag Heuer, the company is doing exceptionally well and revenue is actually up from 2015 despite the current crisis mode in the Swiss watch industry. Knowing Mister Biver for a couple years now, I would not expect any less from him. And the outlook for Tag Heuer seems very rosy at this point.
Thank you to Tag Heuer and Mister Biver for such a wonderful event and invitation. I have noticed even on my own instagram the disappointment by some collectors who were not invited, but Tag Heuer will repeat their invitations going forward and invite more collectors and watch enthusiasts in the near future. So stay tuned, and good luck.
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