The Complete Calibre Guide To TAG Heuer
The Watches of Switzerland Group | 8 minute read
Since 1860 the Heuer name has been synonymous with technical innovation and precision timekeeping. Edouard Heuer forever changed the course of history for the watch industry with his inventions, gifting the world of horology with the first crown-operated winding mechanism and his ultra-precise chronographs.
Heuer went on to patent a wealth of technical innovations over his lifetime, and the brand is no stranger to firsts. The oscillating pinion, developed by Edouard Heuer in 1887 to improve his chronographs, was the first of its kind and it is still in use today. In 1962 a Heuer stopwatch became the first Swiss-made timepiece to orbit the earth, aboard the first US-manned spaceflight.
However, it took almost a century, and the arrival of Edouard’s great-grandson Jack Heuer at the helm before the company settled into its niche and made a name for itself. Strapped to the wrist of Steve McQueen in the 1971 film Le Mans, the distinctive square-cased Monaco catapulted the brand to worldwide success. Partnerships with Formula One and Ferrari would forever link Heuer to the fast-paced and sophisticated world of motor racing.
Steve McQueen wearing the TAG Heuer Monaco
With an understated cool and innovative spirit, it’s no surprise that TAG Heuer watches are regularly spotted on the arms of elite sports stars and Hollywood royalty. The brand has a long list of ambassadors and fans, including Christiano Ronaldo, Brad Pitt, Ayrton Senna, Maria Sharapova, Lewis Hamilton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tiger Woods, and most recently Chris Hemsworth.
In this guide to TAG Heuer, we’ll take a look at the brand’s celebrated history, and explore some of its most iconic pieces.
The Story Of TAG Heuer
In 1860, at the age of just 20 years old, Edouard Heuer opened his watchmaking shop. Based on the family farm in Saint-Imier, he became known for producing pocket watches under the Heuer name. Over the next few years, Heuer would move his company first to Brugg in 1864, and then onto Biel in 1867, where the business would remain for over 100 years.
Technical innovation came naturally to Edouard, and he submitted his first patent in 1869 for a crown-operated, keyless winding system. Prior to his invention, a small key had been required to wind a pocket watch and keep it running. This new innovation proved to be popular amongst buyers and makers alike and helped to change the course of watchmaking forever.
In 1882 Edouard patented his first chronograph, and by 1887 he had perfected it with his patent for his improved ‘oscillating pinion’. He deemed this invention the “the perfected chronograph”, and it is still used by major watchmakers to this day.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the demand for more precise and accurate timings had reached a critical point, thanks to advancements across the fields of science and technology. Heuer rose to this challenge, producing and patenting a range of chronographs that were fit for the job. The Sphygmometer pocket chronograph, patented in 1908, revolutionised medical timing by allowing a doctor to determine a patient’s pulse rate after counting heartbeats for just 20 seconds.
The world’s first wrist-worn chronograph was released by the company in 1914. And in 1916 Charles-Auguste Heuer, son of Edouard, created the Mikrograph and Semikrograph. These stopwatches were able to accurately display timings of 1/50 and 1/100 second, a huge advancement on the 1/5 second displays of current stopwatches. Heuer’s mastery of precision timing led to the brand becoming an official supplier of chronographs for the Olympic Games.
The arrival of Jack Heuer as the brand’s new owner in 1958 marked a golden age for the company, and it was during his time overseeing the business that some of Heuer’s most famous models were born – the Autavia, Carrera, and Monaco. Jack turned the company’s focus to wrist chronographs, stopwatches, and dashboard timing instruments for use in motor racing. By carving out a well-defined niche for the brand, Jack would lead his company into a number of motorsport sponsorship deals, including one with the prestigious Ferrari Formula One team, cementing the brand’s influence in the world of sport.
In 1982 the family-owned firm was sold to a consortium led by Piaget and Nouvelle Lemania. Three years later the TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) Group purchased a majority stake in the company and renamed the brand TAG Heuer.
Today TAG Heuer is owned by the French luxury goods corporation LVMH, which includes brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Zenith.
The first of Heuer’s watches to sport a collection name, the Autavia was also the first wristwatch created by Jack Heuer for the company. Its inspiration, and namesake - a combination of automobile and aviation, was the legendary dashboard timers created by Heuer in the 1930s.
First released in 1962, the Autavia became known for its highly-legible black dial and rotating bezel, which allowed its wearer to track minutes or hours, to indicate speed or track a second time zone. The style was developed into a number of different variants, which helped to make it all the more interesting to collectors. Variations include models with two or three counters, different scales on the bezel, a GMT model, and diving and military versions amongst others.
The Autavia graced the wrists of some of the greatest Formula One drivers of the 60s and 70s, including Jo Siffert who was known to wear a signature white-dial Autavia with black registers.
TAG Heuer Autavia
The Carrera was created in 1963, after Jack Heuer set out to craft the ultimate racing watch. His idea was simple, to produce an ultra-legible and highly reliable instrument to measure time and speed during a race.
Drawing inspiration from the Carrera Panamericana road race, the style’s gently curved steel case and sporty chronographs captured the romance and danger of racing. The clean and undeniably masculine design helped to make it an instant hit. Features including water resistance and unmatched durability, while shock resistance ensured it was highly practical and fit for a life on the road.
Since its introduction, it has remained one of TAG Heuer’s most popular styles and vintage models are especially collectable. Over the years the Carrera has evolved and adapted in style, but it has always retained its original spirit – as a timepiece crafted for racing drivers and with a strong focus on practicality. To date the brand has produced over 10 generations and 130 models of Carrera watches.
TAG Heuer Carrera Senna
The timepiece that placed Heuer firmly in the international spotlight was the Monaco. Created in 1969, it was revolutionary in the world of horology for not only being the first automatic chronograph but also the first square-cased chronograph too. The distinctive design with its bold square case, and red accents on the hands and dial made for a sporty yet avant garde look, placing it apart from the other styles of the time.
In the 1971 film Le Mans, Steve McQueen chose to wear a blue Monaco for his character of Michael Delaney. This association quickly made the Monaco one of the most iconic and recognisable sports watches in the world. Such is the enduring legacy of this timepiece that one of the two Monaco watches worn by McQueen in the film sold at auction in 2020 for a record breaking $2,208,000 – making it the most expensive TAG Heuer watch ever sold.
Steve McQueen and the TAG Heuer Monaco
Born from the brand’s close ties to motorsport, the The Formula 1 was released in 1986 and was the first new release after the brand officially became TAG Heuer. The model became known for its bright colours, and its innovative fibreglass-coated stainless steel case with a notched bezel. Over the years the collection has become more refined and sophisticated, opting for a sleeker look and a less bold colour palette. Cutting-edge design elements and materials such as titanium carbide, easy-grip screw in crown, and a unidirectional bezel make these pieces perfect for those with a fast-paced lifestyle.
The collection has seen a number of well known collaborations and has been promoted by some of the greatest Formula 1 drivers, including Kimi Raikkonen and Ayrton Senna.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Red Bull Quartz
Launched in November 2015, TAG Heuer’s Connected watch was the first Swiss luxury smartwatch introduced to the market.
A blend of old-school style and modern technology, the Connected is housed in a Carrera-style case, with a sleek bezel and selection of digital dial options. Inside, state of the art technology allows for an experience that goes beyond simply telling the time. The Connected is an all-purpose gadget fit for the modern age.
TAG Heuer Connected Golf
Our Buyer’s Highlights
“TAG Heuer recently celebrated a milestone anniversary, as they saw in their 160th year. To commemorate this momentous feat in watchmaking, the brand relaunched a range of iconic Carreras, the Sports chronographs that are set to become a part of the racing DNA that the brand is synonymous with. Inspired by the legendary Carrera Panamericana race; a border to border sports car racing event on the open roads in Mexico. TAG Heuer’s new Sports Chronograph collection is both sporty and elegant, housing the Heuer 02 movement, an automatic column-wheel chronograph in house movement, with the added benefit of an 80 hour power reserve. My favourite connotation is the blue dial, which features a 44mm polished steel case with a ceramic blue tachymeter fixed bezel.” Faye Soteri, Senior International Buyer
“TAG Heuer Connected is one of the most luxurious Android Wear smartwatch collections in the luxury Swiss market. This is the third generation of TAG’s Connected collection which improves on previous models with improved fitness tracking, software, and a more refined design. The 45mm chronograph-inspired timepiece combines horological tradition with digital technology to deliver the most luxurious smartwatch available on the market today. Powered by Google’s Wear OS, the Connected watch a TAG Heuer case design and new fitness focus, with GPS and heart-rate monitor capabilities, as well as a new and improved TAG Heuer Sports app for tracking a myriad of activities from running to golf. It is a watch every tech, fitness and timepiece enthusiast will love.” Elizabeth Millward, Watch Buyer for UK
“To celebrate the union of two icons of design quality and innovation, TAG Heuer and Porsche have launched two new Carrera Porsche Chronograph models. The Porsche colours of red, black and grey are incorporated throughout the watch and the ‘Porsche’ name is engraved on the black ceramic tachymeter bezel, on a 44mm case. The models feature Arabic numerals in the unmistakable Porsche font, the strap is embossed black calf leather with the stitching echoing the Porsche interior. Both models are powered by the in-house Heuer 02 automatic chronograph movement, giving the added benefit of an 80- hour power reserve, with a re-designed oscillating mass, as a tribute to Porsche’s celebrated steering wheel. The obvious choice for the Porsche Fan, Porsche Customer or Porsche Collector, but a fantastic looking watch for any motorsport enthusiast.” Elizabeth Millward, Watch Buyer for UK
“Inspired by the popular chronographs from the 60s and driven by innovative quartz movement, these bold Formula 1 timepieces feature a 43mm stainless steel case with an azure unidirectional rotating bezel. Sporting a textured racing road asphalt dial, these models are available with orange highlights on a stainless-steel bracelet or lime highlights on a textile strap.” Elizabeth Millward, Watch Buyer for UK
To keep your TAG Heuer watch in perfect working order, take a look at our recommendations for taking care of your luxury timepiece, or enquire about a service with our specialist technicians.
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