TAG Heuer - The watch for winners
Not all TAG Heuer wearers have a fast car – but a lot of very fast cars have worn TAG Heuer.
The connection between precision watches and speed was first made in 1911 when clockmaker Edouard Heuer patented ‘Time of Trip’ – the first dashboard chronograph. You attached it to the dashboard of your car or aircraft and it gave you both the time of day and the elapsed time on your current journey. When asked what people who didn’t have a personal car or aircraft should do, Herr Heuer suggested they patronise another watchmaker.
Heuer’s first wrist chronograph arrived in 1914. Then, two years later, the company introduced improvements that took accuracy to 1/100th of a second. Remarkable for a mechanical device.
Heuer continued making clocks and timers for racers and rallyists (pausing in the 1930s to produce chronographs for Luftwaffe pilots) and became the leader in dashboard timepieces. You saw Heuer chronographs everywhere you looked in motor racing, rallying and even skiing events.
Unsurprisingly, non-competitors started to want a Heuer watch and, by the 1950s, Heuer had become a desirable brand. Their watches were sold in the USA, some branded Heuer and some Abercrombie & Fitch.
The Heuer ‘Seafarer’ watch of the period showed high and low tides, and could be used to track the phases of the moon. The ‘Autograph’ had a tachymeter scale on the dial and a hand that could be preset to a specific point. This helped you determine how your rally car was performing over a measured mile. The extra hand was also good for keeping track of golf scores!
In 1962, Heuer became the first Swiss watchmaker in space. John Glenn wore an Heuer stopwatch when he piloted the Mercury Atlas 6 spacecraft on the first US manned space flight to orbit the earth.
Perhaps the most famous Heuer model is the Carrera, first introduced in 1963.
Until this time, all Heuer watches had been manually wound, but in the 1960s, facing competition from Japanese watch makers for the first time, Heuer and another company called Breitling jointly developed an automatic movement.
They called it the Chrono-Matic (OK, this was the 1960s). This was a great success and Heuer continued to sew up the race and rally section of the market by producing special chronographs, often based on the Carrera, for Silverstone, Daytona, Montreal, Monza, Monaco, Audi Sport, Champion Spark Plugs and even the Italian Air Force.
The brand became TAG Heuer in 1985, when Techniques d’Avant Garde, a maker of ceramic turbochargers for F1 cars, bought Heuer.
15 or so years later, the watches truly became international luxury items when the company was bought by LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Moet Hennessy).
As you’d expect with such a well-connected brand, some very famous people have worn TAG Heuer watches, among them Ayrton Senna, Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Fernando Alonso, Leonardo di Caprio, Maria Sharapova, Lewis Hamilton, Uma Thurman and Cameron Diaz.
Movie watch-spotters might like to know that Steve McQueen wore a blue TAG Heuer Monaco in the 1971 movie Le Mans (with this model now being known as the "McQueen Monaco").
Of course, all this attention from the super-rich would soon stop if the watches became simply luxury trinkets, so TAG Heuer’s technical development has, if anything, accelerated in recent years.
The current Monaco V4, for example, has a movement that’s driven by belts rather than gears. The Carrera Calibre 360 was the first mechanical wristwatch to measure and display time to 1/100th of a second.
In 2011, TAG Heuer announced the Mikrotimer Flying 1000, a mechanical watch accurate to 1/1000 of a second – only to follow it a year later with the world’s fastest chronograph, the Mikrogirder 1/2000th!
They also released the limited edition Carrera MP4-12C watch, to commemorate the launch of the McLaren MP4-12C supercar. TAG Heuer has partnered the McLaren F1 team for over 26 years.
When you browse our collection of beautiful pre-owned TAG Heuer watches, you’ll note the wide spread of prices. TAG Heuer is a brand that’s accessible as well as desirable. You can pay less than £500 for a quartz movement Formula 1, or you could wear a mechanical automatic Grand Carrera or similar for around £2,500.
TAG Heuer ladies watches are well worth a look and feature a range of case sizes. There are dress watches at 27mm and more sporting models, such as the female F1, at 41mm.
Whatever your budget, we recommend that you insure your watch for more than you paid. Our prices are very good, and you could well have to find considerably more to replace your watch should it be lost or stolen.
We’re sometimes asked about the investment value of prestige watches, and we always say that there are no guarantees. It may well be true that a cared-for pre-owned watch could be a better investment than a new watch, because the initial jeweller’s mark-up is no longer in the equation. It can also be the case that if you keep a good watch for a number of years, its value is unlikely to fall and you may even make a profit.
One customer who bought a £500 TAG Heuer from us a few years ago brought it in to trade up the other week and was pleasantly surprised to find that we offered him more than he originally paid. He was pleased to have had a first-class watch on his wrist for all that time – free of charge!