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TAG Heuer: A Passion for Timing

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Keen on timing, enthusiastic about speed, the Heuer brand-known today as TAG Heuer-has always been a favourite for people whose priority is performance. A Heuer watch is worn by Steve McQueen in the Lee H. Katzin movie Le Mans, and Formula 1 drivers such as Ayrton Senna, David Coulthard, and Mika Hakkinen have also been brand ambassadors. Heuer’s allure lies in the values it conveys and its timepieces features among the collection of Barack Obama, incumbent President of the United States of America.

From the start, the brand chose to focus on the world of sport and top-level competition. Founded in Saint-Imier in 1860 by Edouard Heuer, the Swiss company soon realised it vocation. In 1880, it was one of the first manufactures to mass produce stopwatches, winning an award at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1889. Passionate about its work, it continued its mechanical research and caused a stir in the world of precision engineering in 1916, wen it launched the Mikrograph, a portable timing instrument accurate to 1/100th of a second.

In 1964, Jack Heuer, a young engineer on the motor racing circuits, designed the Carrera chronograph after hearing the story of the Carrera Panamericana Mexico. The brand’s love affair with motor racing was only just beginning when the prop man working on the movie Le Mans asked Jack Heuer to supply him with the chronometers he would use for the shoot. When Steve McQueen chose the Monaco chronograph, charmed by its square lines and automatic movement, he did not realise he was writing the company’s history. Their partnership would lastingly shape the image of TAG, which as TAG Heuer (following the TAG group’s takeover in 1985) became the official timekeeper of the world Formula 1 championship in 1992, after acting as Scuderia Ferrari’s timekeeper until 1979. This special relationship, which made the brand a legendary name worldwide, ended in 2004, when it decided to concentrate on timekeeping for the Indy Racing League.

Since then, its field of interest has broadened; along with watches, it now works on optical goods and mobile phones. Its marketing has refocussed on sports chic and glamour, with models such as the Monaco, which celebrated its fortieth birthday in 2009. The brand also takes a more modernist approach with its new Aquaracer 500 generation and sports chic collection-including the Grand Carrera. Powerful and graphic, these timepieces are worn by the company’s legendary, image enhancing ambassadors: sports giants, including Lewis Hamilton, and movie stars, such as Leonardo DiCaprio. Eager as ever to demonstrate its potential, the company should soon announce production of the long awaited Monaco V4 (a concept watch with a belt-drive movement) and the opening of a new factory for the brand’s 150th anniversary, which it is thought will be able to produce an exclusive chronograph calibre, conferring manufacture status on TAG Heuer.

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