TAG Heuer is one of only a very few Houses in the Haute Horlogerie sector to have such a clear orientation. It may owe this to the fact that it was a family-run business for most of its History, managed by various members of the Heuer family, who all shared a passion for Haute Horlogerie alongside a love of motor sports and speed.

    Since 1985, whereupon it was taken over by TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) and renamed TAG Heuer, its ‘helm’ was ‘steered’ by people who truly respected and evolved its true DNA, opening up new prospects for it for the future.

    Today, 151 years after its establishment, TAG Heuer is a key player in the sports watch sector while, in recent years, it has also begun exhibiting impressive activity in the area of the technological evolution of their movements, which would be envied by even the most well-established, historical Houses of the Haute Horlogerie sector. It thus frequently creates cutting-edge technology and innovative models, which it is difficult for other brands even to emulate, since they necessitate an exceedingly complex and costly infrastructure, but also a level of technical expertise that only TAG Heuer possesses! Let’s take its History from the beginning…

    1860. In the very pretty small town of Saint-Imier in the Jura region of Switzerland, the 20-year old Edouard Heuer, avid lover of all new trends of the time, founded a small workshop, which was the first ‘seed’ in the creation of what is now the almighty TAG Heuer. 6 years later, he moved his business to Bienne. In 1869, Edouard Heuer registered a patent for one of the first pocket watches with a winding crown. It is certainly difficult for us today to understand the way of life of some people at that time, when modern-day conveniences but also simple things that we now take for granted, did not exist. And yet, people imbued with such a pioneering spirit, such as Edouard Heuer, 150 years ago lived a life that was intense, even by today’s standards. Thus, during his travels in 1870 to Great Britain and the United States (!) of America, Heuer admired the industrialisation of production, but also noted the great extent to which the public loved and followed equestrian racing. Heuer drew inspiration from the new era dawning at the time for the operation of his company, but also for the timepieces he would create. He opened the subsidiary E.D. Heuer in London in 1876 while, two years later, his daughter Louise Honorine begins participating in the management of the company.

    From as early as 1882, he was among the first to introduce industrial mass production in the field of pocket chronographs. The immediately following year, 1883, these chronographs will win the silver medal at the Amsterdam International Exhibition. In 1887, Heuer applies for another patent, this time of historical value, for the invention of the oscillating pinion, which permitted, for the first time, the instantaneous initialization of the chronograph’s mechanism: in less than 2/1000ths of a second! Through this invention, Edouard Heuer’s company already offered the watch exceptional ‘speed’ in measuring time, at a period when the car was still only a… carriage without horses! His daughter died during the same year and Edouard, saddened, transferred the management of the House to his son Jules-Edouard. In 1888, he applied for a patent for a minute repeater mechanism while, the following year saw the Paris International Exposition, in which the Heuer pocket chronographs received the silver medal. In 1890, his younger son, Charles-Auguste, having completed his studies in London in watchmaking, gemology and business administration, also begins working for the family business while, two years later, Edouard Heuer passes away at the age of 52.

    One of the first patents referring to a water-resistant pocket watch case is applied for, in 1895! In 1902, gem sales record a very steep increase and in 1908 a new patent allows the measurement of a person’s heartbeat. In 1911, another patent gives the opportunity to the watch’s user to learn the exact date on which a pregnant lady is due to give birth! An extensive collection of ladies’ watches is also presented during the same year, while for the first time the company logo appears in block capitals. 1911 is also marked by the passing away of Jules-Edouard.

    As was natural, the members of the Heuer family were car owners from as early as the turn of the previous century and closely monitored the evolution of this new and revolutionary means of transport, which gained many friends, power and speed over the course of the following years. The Heuer House, thanks to the infrastructure it had put in place, was able to offer its support to car drivers and manufacturers, providing them with all necessary functionalities: the first chronograph of the House, named Time of Trip, will be incorporated into aeroplane and car dashboards from as early as 1911. In 1913, Heuer publishes its first advertisement in a newspaper, while in the following year, 1914, the first wrist-worn Heuer chronograph is powered by a Valjoux movement and has its crown at 12 o’clock. The overall arrangement of this chronograph attests to its direct relationship with the House’s pocket watches.

    1916 was a landmark-year for the House, as it saw the presentation of the Mikrograph, the first chronograph capable of measuring time with an accuracy of up to 1/100th of a second, as well as of the Microsplit, which also offers the option of a split chronograph, while the Semikrograph and Semicrosplit that beat at precisely half the speed, measuring time with an accuracy of up to 1/50th of a second, will also be unveiled in that same year. The Zeppelin R 34 flies over the North Atlantic for the first time in 1919, with the valuable help of the Time of Trip on its dashboard, while, the following year, the British Army Corps and Post Offices submit an order for 2,200 Time of Trip. Heuer’s split or standard pocket chronographs, thanks to their accuracy, manage to secure the deal for Timekeeping the Antwerp Olympic Games. Four years later, Heuer will once again be entrusted with Timekeeping for the Paris Olympics.

    Hubert Heuer begins working for the House in 1923, while his father, Charles-Auguste, dies during that same year. In 1924 Heuer decreases the production of pocket watches and increases that of wristwatches, since the Heuer family was among the first to believe in this product, which was still new at the time. In 1928, Heuer became the Official Timekeeper both of the Amsterdam Olympic Games, as well as of skiing or race-car driving events. In 1929, Hugo Eckener achieves an important exploit, circumnavigating the Globe in 20 days and 4 hours in the Zeppelin, using the Time of Trip as his navigational tool. The wristwatches of the House also acquire a water-resistant case in 1930. The following year, the town of Bienne will give a golden Heuer chronograph to Auguste Piccard (grandfather of Bertrand Piccard) for having achieved the feat of being the first person to have ever gone up into the stratosphere!

    The legendary name Autavia (which encompasses aviation as well as automobiles) first became known in 1933 and would later also give its name to a very beautiful wristwatch. It refers to an instrument found on the dashboard of aeroplanes and race-cars which, along with the Hervue, will adorn the dashboards of the fastest race-cars for more than two decades. The following year, 1934, Heuer participates in the first Basel Watch Fair, showcasing wristwatches, timers and instruments for automobile and aeroplane dashboards. The first watch for pilots, with a rotating bezel, was presented in 1935, while wrist-worn chronographs also acquire a water-resistant case in 1938. In 1942, Heuer’s chronographs are accompanied by a written warranty, while the triple date indication (day of the week, date and month) first makes its appearance in 1945. In that same year, General Dwight Eisenhower purchases a golden chronograph of the House, and comes back and purchases a second one the following year! He will be followed by the President of the United States of America, Harry S. Truman and by Prince Willhelm of Sweden, in 1947. Heuer’s first self-winding timepieces are also presented in 1947, while the Auto-Graph model, which is a chronograph with a tachymeter scale, is presented in the following year, 1948.

    The Solunar, the first timepiece in the world with the ability to predict tides, is presented in 1949. The Mareograph model, which combines the tide indication with the sailing-type chronograph with a 5-minute countdown function, was manufactured during that same year, but was presented in 1950. In America it became known by the name of Seafarer. In 1955, Heuer registers a patent for Twin Time, a GMT timepiece with simultaneous time indication in two time zones. The Ring-Master is unveiled in 1957. It is a chronograph with the option of housing 7 different rings, depending on the sport we wish to time.

    1958 was yet another important year for Heuer, as it marked the taking up office of Jack Heuer, who continues to be the Honorary President of TAG Heuer up to this day. This same year also sees the presentation of a highly significant and characteristic double instrument for automobile dashboards. Its name is Rally Master and it is made up of two separate instruments: the Monte-Carlo and the Master-Time. The former has a central 60-minutes hand and a ‘jumping’ 12-hour indication, while the latter is a timepiece offering 8-day autonomy when fully-wound. The Rally-Master was used for timing long-distance races. This ‘chase’ after accuracy and recording the ever-increasing car speeds, which necessitated this quest, will be prolonged throughout the entire 20th century and, naturally, will take on ‘unreal’ dimensions in our time! During this same period, the Auto-Rally car dashboard instrument was redesigned and the Super-Autavia car dashboard chronograph was presented for the first time. In 1959, the Game-Master was addressed to radio, cinema and TV directors. Later, in 1964, the Film-Master will be created especially for Hollywood directors, while in 1966 the TV Film-Master is addressed to their colleagues in the television industry. Special provision had been made for 16 or 35mm cinematographic cameras! In 1962, the great commercial success of its car dashboard instruments will lead Heuer to present the Autavia wristwatch. In that same year, the astronaut John Glenn will wear this timepiece during his triple circumnavigation of the Earth, which lasted 5 hours and 40 minutes, thus endowing this Heuer model with the title of the first Swiss watch to have ever been worn by a person in Space.

    In 1963, Jack Heuer, who is a sports car enthusiast, launches the Carrera collection, as tribute to the very difficult Carrera Panamericana Mexico race, with characteristics that are directly reminiscent of the tough use during car rallies, such as the large crown, easy reading of the time or small holes on the leather strap.

    In 1964, the House merges with its main competitor and is renamed Heuer-Léonidas S.A. In 1966, the Microtimer is the first (electronic, of course) watch to be able to measure the time with an accuracy of up to a thousandth of a second, endowing rallies around the world with prestige, but also offering Heuer an even closer ‘bond’ with the foremost race-car drivers and, of course, great commercial success. In 1967, the Intrepid sea vessel wins the America Cup, which is the most important sailing competition, with the help of Heuer’s chronographs. The Autavia GMT and the Camaro, a military-type chronograph built for the German Army, are presented in 1968.

    This brings us to 1969, a landmark-year both for TAG Heuer, as well as for the History of all chronographs, since this year was marked by the near-simultaneous presentation of the first automatic chronographs. The one manufactured by Heuer was named Chronomatic Calibre 11 and it found an ideal ‘home’ in the magnificent and timeless – totally innovative for the time – square case of the Monaco collection. Another two bold details were adopted for the occasion: the blue dial with the orange seconds’ hand, as well as placing the crown at 9 o’clock!

    Its collaboration with the most prominent race-car drivers also began in that year. This was kicked off by its successful Chairman at the time, Jack Heuer, and the first race-car driver to have collaborated with Heuer was Jo Siffert, while he was followed by the foremost race-car drivers, such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jacky Ickx, Clay Regazzoni, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, David Coulthard, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Mika Häkkinen and many others. 1970 saw the addition of actor and Hollywood legend Steve McQueen to Heuer’s ‘Gold List’, who is in a category all on his own. He had starred in the cinema production ‘Le Mans’, a film that is an ideal expression of the passion for long-distance race-car driving, in the framework of which the charming actor was… charmed by the blue dial of the Monaco model and the characteristic uniform of the icon at the time, the race-car driver Jo Siffert, and decided to wear them himself, thus making the Monaco a cult-object around the globe until today !

    Moreover, this collaboration with the top race-car drivers is not confined solely to an advertisement that the specific driver wears a timepiece of the House, but also extended to the contribution of these top drivers to the design of the company’s watches, basing the design and manufacture of the watches on the criterion that they should meet the demanding standards of a high-speed race.

    TAG Heuer’s collaboration with the foremost race-car drivers could not but also be extended to historic teams, which number millions of fans throughout the planet, such as the Ferrari or Mercedes-McLaren teams. Its collaboration with Scuderia Ferrari achieved phenomenal success, since it brought the House 7 important victories during the 1971-1979 period when it was in effect!

    At this point, it must be noted that, at that time, electronic means of communication had not evolved to the extent they have today, so it was very difficult for important Formula 1 teams to verify their drivers’ performance during the race with the degree of accuracy demanded for such high speeds.

    Thus, in the framework of its collaboration with the Ferrari team, Heuer created the Le Mans Centigraph electronic chronometer, offering a timekeeping precision of 1/1000th of a second! The team’s victories corroborate its value: Niki Lauda is crowned World Champion twice (in 1975 and 1977), Jody Scheckter once (in 1979) while Ferrari won the Manufacturer of the Year Award, for four consecutive years (1975, 1976, 1977 and 1979)! The Montreal, Temporada and Microsplit 800 models were presented in 1972. The Silverstone and Monza models were unveiled in 1975.

    The next target of the House was the incorporation of the technology and performance of the Microtimer into a wristwatch. This effort culminated in the Chronosplit model in 1975, which is the first wristwatch to simultaneously offer two digital indications and to electronically ensure an accuracy of up to 1/100th of a second. The elegance, absolutely stunning design for the time, as well as the performance of this distinctive model, led Enzo Ferrari to order a strictly limited edition of 15 timepieces, carved with the characteristic prancing horse!

    The Chronosplit Manhattan GMT will be the first timepiece in the History of Horlogerie to combine analogue with digital indications, in 1977. The year 1980 sees Heuer as the Official Timekeeper of the Winter Olympics held at Lake Placid and of the Summer Olympics held in Moscow, while in 1982 the mouvements manufacturer Lémania S.A. took over Heuer-Léonidas S.A. The 1000, 2000 and 3000, as well as the Golden Hours collections, were presented during this period…

    In 1985, Heuer was acquired by TAG company, which added its name to the renowned logo while, during the same year, TAG Heuer simultaneously began its collaboration with McLaren Mercedes Racing Team. The irreplaceable contribution of TAG Heuer once again paid off and, during a collaboration spanning 26 years, the team achieved 120 (!) victories, while the title of World Champion was won by one of its race-car drivers on 9 occasions: namely by Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Mika Häkkinen, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. All of them, one of a kind! And all of them, TAG Heuer’s Ambassadors…

    In 1986, TAG Heuer unveiled the first watch of the highly commercially successful Formula 1 collection, which will impress with its beautiful colours, while over time it will prove to be a very interesting selection for a first-time buyer of its watches. The S/el collection was presented in 1987. The Tristar model was presented in 1988, which also marks the onset of its collaboration with Ayrton Senna and Carl Lewis. 1997 saw the unveiling of the Kirium model, which was beautifully designed by the highly significant Jorg Hysek. The Monaco collection acquired a new look in 1998, which was made available in a limited edition of 5,000 individually numbered pieces. In 1999, the Alter Ego ladies’ collection achieves commercial success and TAG Heuer is taken over by LVMH, the top luxury goods Group! The first timepiece in 5-degree hardness titanium, the Kirium Ti5, is released in 2000. That same year, Jean Christophe Babin takes up office as President and Chief Executive Officer. The new edition of the historic Monza model, as well as the Link Searacer, are presented in 2001. In 2002, the Micrograph F1 offering time-keeping accuracy of 1/100th of a second (with a quartz movement, of course), wins the best design of the year award at the Geneva Grand Prix d’Horlogerie. That same year, the models Targa Florio, Monza Calibre 36 and Link Calibre 36 share the same mechanism, offering an accuracy of a tenth of a second.

    2003 is marked by the relaunch of the Autavia and the 2000 Acquagraph and the electronic Mikrotimer, a very beautiful watch guaranteeing digital time-keeping accuracy of one-thousandth of a second, launch. Its collaboration with Tiger Woods, the foremost golf player, as well as TAG Heuer’s participation in the Louis Vuitton Cup via the Oracle BMW sailing team, also begin during the same year. In 2004, the House’s relationship with the automobile sector is in its ‘heyday’. We thus see it being awarded the title of Official Timekeeper of the legendary Indianapolis 500 rally, in collaboration with Indy Racing League. Moreover, 2004 is also marked by the launch of the very beautiful SLR chronograph, which can only be acquired on condition that you already the owner of a Mercedes SLR! Of course, that year the event that left the biggest mark on TAG Heuer, but also on Haute Horlogerie in general, was the presentation of the highly innovative Monaco V4.

    The first timepiece in the world to use a belt-system for the transfer of energy, as well as ball bearings and a counter-weight engaged in linear motion for powering its mechanism, ‘stole the show’ at BaselWorld and paved the way for the subsequent, totally unexpected concept timepieces of the House. It took six years for TAG Heuer to move from the first prototype that had been the product of Jean François Ruchonnet’s imagination, with the invaluable help of Philippe Dufour, to a limited edition available for sale, but these years offered unique experience and prestige to the House. During the same year, TAG Heuer won the Geneva Grand Prix d’Horlogerie in the design category with the Monaco Sixty Nine, which has a rotating case, while on one side it allows us to measure time with an accuracy of 1/1000th of a second, of course electronically.

    The next year it is the turn of the – inconceivable – women’s Diamond Fiction watch, with the indication of the time formed for the first time through the use of diamonds, to win the same prize in the women’s watch category. Moreover, the first gold watch is also presented, the Professional Golf Watch by Tiger Woods and the Calibre 360 Concept Chronograph, the first mechanical timepiece with an accuracy of 1/100th of a second. 2005 sees the launch of TAG Heuer’s collaboration with Uma Thurman, Brad Pitt, Kimmi Räikönnen, Juan Pablo Montoya and Maria Sharapova.

    Its distinctions at the Geneva Grand Prix d’Horlogerie (GPHG) continue into 2006 with the Carrera Calibre 360 in the sport category, while the same year is also marked by the unveiling of the Monaco Calibre 360 LS. In 2007, in terms of new Ambassadors for the House there is the addition of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, while in terms of new models there are the Grand Carrera, Link Calibre S and Aquaracer Calibre S Regatta. In 2008, the Grand Carrera Calibre 36 RS Caliper Concept Chronograph wins in the GPHG sport category, while the TAG Heuer 360 Museum is also opened in the same year and the House becomes a member of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. At the same time, a stir is created by the House’s first mobile phone, the luxurious Meridiist.

    2009 was the year marked by the 40th anniversary from the presentation of the historical Monaco model, as well as of the first automatic chronograph movement, Calibre 11. TAG Heuer took this opportunity to present the limited edition Monaco Calibre 11 and the Monaco Twenty Four Concept Chronograph, as well as the highly successful Aquaracer 500M Calibre 5. The new star who associates his name with the House is Leonardo DiCaprio.

    In 2010, on the occasion of its anniversary marking 150 years of its History, TAG Heuer presented a plethora of important timepieces, among which the new Carrera Calibre 1887 chronograph bearing the ‘in-house’ chronograph movement by the same name, the new Aquaracer 500M, as well as the ceramic Formula 1 models.

    The Grand Carrera Pendulum is of special significance, as it is a concept watch which is the first watch in 300 years not to have a balance spring! The watch functions through the simultaneous action of 4 magnets. From its first presentation, we all realised that this concept model was set to play a major role in forthcoming models. And we didn’t need to wait long. A few months later, in March 2011 at BaselWorld, the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 will represent the next ‘big’ step made by TAG Heuer, based on the technology that was first used in the Pendulum, among others.

    Today, TAG Heuer, by making use of the most cutting-edge technology, is in a position to time any high-speed race, with an accuracy of 1/10,000th of a second! And it is the only House that possesses this technology. From 1992 and for 11 consecutive years, it was the Official Timekeeper of the Formula 1 Grand Prix around the world, but also for the teams we have previously mentioned. In this framework, it has provided 18 tonnes of technological material, 20 kilometres of special-type cables, 19 antennae that are incorporated into race tracks and 20 technicians who simultaneously monitor the 20 super-cars on 150 monitors!

    Everything ran smoothly for 175 F1 racing events and there was not even a single objection or subsequent amendment!

    A basic tool for measuring time to such a high degree of accuracy is the TAG Heuer Lynx Photo Finish Camera, specially-made by TAG Heuer in collaboration with the top specialist in the field, Lynx Systems Developers. The French Federation of Automobile Sports (Fédération Française du Sport Automobile, FFSA) offered valuable help towards its design. The incredible amount of information recorded by the camera are confirmed by the respective high-definition photographs, while all information is transmitted to as many PCs as we connect it to via wireless connection, allowing judges the opportunity to immediately decide on anything that may happen, in real time. The design and fabrication of the camera took 2 years, and in the end the FFSA suggested that the trials take place during the French Championship in the GT category held in Albi. The difference between the first driver, Marc Sourd, and the second driver, David Hallyday, was a mere 15/1000th of a second, and the high-definition photo-finish photograph was necessary in order to corroborate this result! Its image-capture capacity is 40,000,000 pixels/sec, while its wireless-connectivity range with an external PC is 2km and its safe operation temperature range is from -20 to +50ºC.

    This same technology also later brought TAG Heuer the world record, of the smallest difference between a first and second driver ever recorded in a car rally. It happened in France in 2006, specifically at the Champions Rally, which gather champions in various categories on the same track. TAG Heuer recorded a difference between the winner Mattias Ekström and runner-up Heikki Kovalainen, of 0.0002 seconds, namely 2/10,000th!

    This difference, when translated into distance, corresponds to a difference of a centimeter, between two cars racing at 350km/hour!

    At the same time as its far-reaching relationship with the car-racing world (which has, for many years now, also been extended to encompass skiing, horse-riding and motorbike racing), TAG Heuer also conducts certain other, better or lesser known, activities in this area. It has already developed a specialised technology for timing the world’s fastest cars in the GT category, such as the Audi R8 or the McLaren MP4-12C. Moreover, TAG Heuer also takes a special interest in the dissemination of electrically-powered cars and, in this framework, it collaborated with Tesla Motors based in the US Silicon Valley in 2010, for the production of a car 100% running on electricity, under the name TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster, which has an acceleration rate of 0-100km/hour in 3.7 seconds! The car went around the world last year, to mark the anniversary of the 150 years of the House. Its passage through all the towns along its itinerary was a breaking news story, while important personalities were to be found at its wheel, such as Stirling Moss during its presentation in London.

    The primary goal of this tour was to promote TAG Heuer’s philosophy: innovation leads to unprecedented performances!

    A new collaboration between TAG Heuer and Audi Sport also commenced in 2010, with the latter selecting it as its Official Timekeeper and associate. The three Audi Sport/TAG Heuer teams that were the result of this collaboration, achieved great success in the most famous race of the entire planet, namely the Le Mans 24 Hours, with its drivers wearing the uniforms in TAG Heuer’s colours and the Carrera on their wrists, precisely like numerous of the most important race-car drivers of all times. TAG Heuer, however, does not confine itself to just time-keeping to demanding standards of accuracy or to the production of exquisite timepieces. Especially for the tough conditions of the Le Mans race, it created special eyewear, which allowed drivers to be sheltered against the glare of the sun by day, but also offering them enhanced vision in the dark!

    As we have already mentioned, TAG stands for ‘Techniques d’avant-garde’, and ‘Techniques d’avant-garde’ means ‘Innovative Techniques’!... And TAG Heuer is the living embodiment of its name, creating innovations, at the speed of… one thousand!...


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