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TAG Heuer – Elegant Sportiness & Relentless Ruggedness

History, Mission, Manufacture, Movements, Reputation, Ranking & Pricing

TAG Heuer Brand Review By Alexander – Founder and Owner of swissdiverswatches.com


A Review of TAG Heuer’s history

TAG Heuer Formula 1(Image By The Watch Gallery)

In 1860, in St-Imier in Switzerland, Edouard Heuer established Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG – the forerunner of the modern TAG Heuer. In 1985 Heuer was purchased by TAG Group Holdings S.A. and became TAG Heuer. Since 1985, the company has been referred to as TAG Heuer. TAG stands for Techniques d’Avant Garde and Heuer stands for the family name of Heuer.

Today, TAG Heuer is wholly owned by the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton/Moët Hennessy). TAG Heuer is still a Swiss brand since it fulfills all the criteria for being Swiss: the movements are manufactured and assembled in Switzerland, and the final inspection takes place in Switzerland.

In 1860, Edouard Heuer established a watchmaking workshop called Heuer in St-Imier, in Switzerland.

In 1869, Edouard Heuer patented his invention: keyless pocket watches, operated with a crown winding system.

In 1876, Edouard Heuer opened a subsidiary in London.

In 1883, the legendary Swiss watch manufacturer won a silver medal at the Amsterdam International Exhibition.

In 1887, the brand patented the oscillating pinion, which is a device used for chronograph watches.

In 1888, the company was awarded a patent for a repeater watch with an entirely automatic chiming.

In 1889, the producer is awarded a silver medal for their pocket watches, at Universal Exhibition in Paris.

In 1891, Charles-Auguste Heuer joined the firm.

In 1892, the founder of the Heuer company – Edouard Heuer, passed away.

In 1895, Heuer was awarded a patent for a water resistant pocket watch.

In 1908, the luxury brand obtained a patent for its Pulsometer dial.

In 1910, with the assistance of Henri Freund & Bros., Heuer started distributing its products in the USA.

In 1911, the luxury watch manufacturer received a patent for its Time of trip, which is a dashboard chronograph watch designed for automobiles and aircraft.

In 1912, the company launched their first lady wristwatches.

In 1914, Heuer launched its first wrist worn chronograph watch.

In 1916, Heuer invented the first sports stopwatches with a precision of 1/100th of a second. The sportswatches are called Mikrograph and Microsplit. Due to Heuer’s technical prowess, it became the official timekeeper of the 1920 Olympic Games.

The same year, in 1916, Heuer launched additional chronographs with a precision of 1/50th of a second. The chronographs are called Semikrograph and Semicrosplit.

In 1920, Heuer became the official timekeeper at the Olympic Games.

In 1923, Charles-Auguste Heuer’s youngest son, Hubert Heuer, joined the family business.

In 1924, the brand’s split second pocket chronograph watches were used at the Paris Olympic Games.

In 1928, their chronograph watches were used at the Amsterdam Olympic Games.

In 1930, Heuer designed chronograph wristwatches for pilots.

In 1933, the company created dashboard instruments for automobiles and aircrafts. The dashboard is called Autavia which is a contraction of AUTOmobile and AVIAtion. The same year, Heuer created an 8-day watch movement that would run for 8 days without winding.

In 1939, the brand launched a water resistant wrist chronograph.

In 1945, the legendary American WW2 war hero, General Eisenhower, wore a Heuer chronograph wristwatch. Two years later, Prince William of Sweden, and American President Harry S. Truman, wore Heuer watches.

In 1948, Heuer launched a chronograph wristwatch equipped with a tachymeter, called Auto-Graph.

In 1949, the company launched the Solunar watch which was equipped with a tide indicator.

In 1950, the luxury brand launched a chronograph wristwatch called Mareograph which was the world’s first chronograph wristwatch with a tide level instrument.

In 1955, the watchmaker launched an automatic wristwatch called Twin-time equipped with an indicator showing a second time zone. I get the feeling that this was Heuer’s/TAG Heuer’s first attempt at building a GMT – watch. The watch however had no GMT-hand.

In 1957, Heuer launched a chronograph/stop watch, capable of Reading 1/5th of a second. The watch is called Ring Master Stopwatch.

In 1958, Charles-Edouard Heuer’s son, Jack Heuer, joined the family business.

In 1959, Jack Heuer sat up a Heuer subsidiary in the USA, called the Heuer Timer Corporation.

In 1960, Heuer invented a split-second stopwatch/chronograph called The Sebring.

1962: Omega and Breitling are not the only Swiss watchmakers that have been to space. Heuer/TAG Heuer was actually the first Swiss watchmaker in space! In 1962, USA sent John Glenn to make the first manned American space flight. Mr Glenn was wearing a Heuer chronograph wristwatch.

In 1963, Jack Heuer launched the legendary chronograph watch Heuer Carrera, which was a tribute to the Carrera Panamericana Rally of the 1950s.

In 1966, Heuer invented the world’s first Electronic timing instrument called Mikrotimer with a precision of 1/1000th of a second.

In 1968, the company launched the Heuer Camaro Chronograph. The name Camaro refers to a sports car called Chevrolet Camaro.

In 1969, the luxury brand launched the Heuer Autavia which is a chronograph watch equipped with a GMT function. The blue and red bezel of the watch, and the mere fact that it’s equipped with a GMT function, does in fact indicate that Heuer got its inspiration from the famous Rolex GMT-Master. The old Rolex GMT-Master too has got a “Pepsi-dial”.

The same year, in 1969, Heuer launched an automatic chronograph movement with a miniature rotor.

In 1970, the famous Hollywood actor Steve McQueen wore the famous Heuer Monaco in his movie Le Mans.

In 1971: From 1971 until 1979, the Ferrari Team in Formula 1, picked Heuer as their official timekeeper.

In 1972, the company launched the Heuer Temporada Chronograph.

In 1973, Heuer launched the world’s first battery operated pocket sports timer with an accuracy equivalent to 1/100th of a second.

In 1974, the watchmaker launched the Heuer Silverstone Chronograph.

In 1975, the watch manufacturer launched the first pocket-sized LCD stopwatch in the world.

In 1976, Heuer launched the Heuer Daytona Chronograph. What is interesting is that in 1963, Rolex launched a watch called Rolex Daytona, which is also a chronograph watch. It seems that Heuer was inspired by Rolex once again.

In 1977, the company launched the world’s first wristwatch chronograph equipped with both an analogue and digital display. The watch is called Heuer Chronosplit Manhattan GMT.

In 1978, the luxury brand became the official timekeeper at the Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid in the USA.

In 1980, the watchmaker became the official timekeeper at the Summer Olympic Games held in Moscow in the Soviet Union.

In 1983, watch producer launched the Heuer 2000 Collection which consists of chronograph sports watches.

In 1985, Heuer was purchased by TAG Group Holdings S.A., ceased to be called Heuer, and became known as TAG Heuer. TAG stands for Techniques d’Avant Garde and Heuer stands for the family name of Heuer.

In 1986, TAG Heuer launched the Formula 1 Collection.

In 1989, the company became the official timekeeper for the Ski World Cup.

In 1991, the luxury watch manufacturer launched the famous slogan “Don’t crack under pressure”.

In 1992, TAG Heuer became the official timekeeper for Formula 1.

In 1995, the brand presented its crew to the America’s Cup – a competition between sailing yachts.

In 1997, the watch producer launched the TAG Heuer Kirium Collection.

In 1999, the watchmaker presented a new collection called TAG Heuer Alter Ego which is a collection of ladies’ watches.

In 2000, TAG Heuer launched a collection called TAG Heuer Kirium TI5 which is a very particular collection, because these are polished titanium watches, where the titanium was manufactured by McClaren’s F1 factories.

In 2001, the company launched the TAG Heuer Kirium F1 which is a Collection of watches, that consist of analogue dial hands and a digital chronograph.

In 2001, the luxury brand launched a movement called Monza 36.

In 2002, TAG Heuer reinvented and relaunched the Mikrograph watch, which became Mikrograph F1 and won the Watch Design Award, at the Geneva Brand Prix d’Horlogerie.

In 2002, the watch producer launched the famous slogan and campaign called “What are you made of?”. The slogan refers to the spirit of the TAG Heuer brand, at its intimate assocation with sports.

In 2003, the watch manufacturer became the official timekeeper at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships, in St Moritz, in Switzerland.

The same year, in 2003, TAG Heuer launched the TAG Heuer Mikrotimer which is a digital watch which is accurate to 1/1000th of a second.

In 2004, TAG Heuer released and invented a watch which most likely belongs in the world of Haute Horlogerie Higher Watchmaking. This was a radically new concept timepiece called TAG Heuer V4 Concept Watch. The movement of the watch is unusual insofar that the movement utilizes belts for keeping time.

In 2004, TAG Heuer released its world famous divers watch collection TAG Heuer Aquaracer.

In 2004, the brand launched the famous TAG Heuer Indy 500 Chronograph. The name “Indy” refers to the Indy Racing League and the Indy 500 Race, where TAG Heuer is the official timekeeper. The watch’s accuracy is a staggering 1/10,000th of a second.

In 2005, the company launched the 360 Movement which is the first mechanical chronograph wristwatch with an accuracy of a 1/100th of a second.

In 2005, the watch manufacturer launched a professional golf watch.

In 2006, the luxury watchmaker launched the Monaco 360 LS Concept Chronograph at Baselworld.

In 2007, the luxury brand launched an electro-mechanical movement called Calibre S.

In 2007, TAG Heuer launched the Grand Carrera Collection.

In 2008, the corporation launched its first museum, called the TAG Heuer 360 Museum.

In 2009, TAG Heuer launched the TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty-Four Chronograph Watch which is a tribute to the original Monaco Collection. The new Monaco watch is highly shock resistant.

In 2010, the brand released another new radical concept watch. This collection is referred to as the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept which relies on a magnetic oscillator without a hairspring, which is capable of providing a torque equivalent to a hairspring.

In 2013, TAG Heuer launched yet another radical new concept watch. It’s called TAG Heuer Carrera Mikropendulum which is a wrist chronograph timepiece, where the movement is adjusted and regulated by magnets.

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A Review of TAG Heuer’s mission

TAG Heuer Carrera(Image By Personey)

TAG Heuer’s mission is to manufacture and build rugged, robust and sporty looking Swiss luxury watches in a relatively affordable price range.

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A Review of TAG Heuer’s manufacture

Below: Concept watch by TAG Heuer.

TAG Heuer Concept Watch(Image By Micky Aldridge)

TAG Heuer is probably the one and only brand that comes to my mind, where I can find inherent discrepancies of startling and enormous proportions.

What truly characterizes TAG Heuer more than any other brand:

The lion’s share of their watches are found in a relatively affordable price range, available to most people. These are the watches that you’ll find online or at your local retailer.

At the same time, TAG Heuer produces a very limited number of radical new concept watches or extreme luxury watches, that could be classified as Haute Horlogerie – higher watchmaking. These watches contain complications and radically new movement technologies. These watches aren’t mass produced and aren’t ideal for daily usage.

TAG Heur does manufacture some in-house movements, but most movements utilized by TAG Heuer, are generic ETA/Valjoux movements, procured from Swatch Group.

In similarity to other Swiss luxury watch brands, and manufacturers, TAG Heuer mass produces their watches and movements with highly modernized and industrialized manufacturing methods, while master watchmakers are needed to assemble the mechanical and automatic movements by hand.

The brand is known to manufacture practical, robust, elegant, versatile and shock resistant watches in a relatively affordable price range.

TAG Heuer has won several Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix Awards.

The most commonly used material by TAG Heuer is stainless steel. TAG Heuer either uses brushed or polished metal.

TAG Heuer’s research and development department is known to reinvent the fundamental movement technology that runs a watch – this is done specifically for TAG Heuer’s extreme luxury watches. The ordinary or “common” TAG Heuer watches, rely mostly on conventional and generic ETA/Valjoux movements.

For example: regulation, energy and transmission, are reinvented several times by TAG Heuer’s research and development department. TAG Heuer’s radical concept extreme luxury watches are often equipped with this radical new technology.

TAG Heuer is also known for its quality tests that involve:

  • Water resistance.
  • Traction resistance.
  • Shock and dropping resistance.
  • Vibration resistance.
  • Analysis of materials.
  • Analysis of the functions’ resistance to ageing.

When the watch has passed these tests, the TAG Heuer watch needs to be inspected one last time by a master watchmaker. When the testing and the inspection have been successfully completed, TAG Heuer releases their watches to the retailers.

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A Review of TAG Heuer’s movements

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Chrono(Image By Juho Eskelä)

Some of TAG Heuer’s movements are in-house made but the brand relies mostly on ETA/Valjoux movements, which it procures from Swatch Group.

Both their chronographs and non-chronographs rely primarily on ETA/Valjoux movements.

TAG Heuer relies on both quartz/battery movements and automatic movements.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer:

  • TAG Heuer ETA 955.112 Quartz, with 3 jewels, 32,768 vph.
  • TAG Heuer Ronda 5040B Quartz, with 13 jewels, 32,768 vph.
  • TAG Heuer Ronda 6004B Quartz, with 5 jewels, 32,768 vph.
  • TAG Heuer automatic Caliber 5, base movement ETA 2824-2 with 26 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 38 hour power reserve.
  • TAG Heuer in-house automatic Caliber 5, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 38 hour power reserve.
  • TAG Heuer in-house automatic Caliber 7, with 21-25 jewels 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve. This movement is used for the GMT function.
  • TAG Heuer automatic Caliber 16, base movement ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.
  • TAG Heuer in-house automatic Caliber 72, with 26 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.

TAG Heuer Formula 1:

  • Swiss Quartz Movement.
  • TAG Heuer electromechanical movement Calibre S with 28 jewels, 32,768 vph. An electromechanical movement is a battery movement, in which the battery is charged by a rotor – which exists in automatic movements. The hand and arm movements will set the rotor in motion which in turn will charge the battery. The second hand moves in a fashion characteristic of a battery driven watch. Electromechanical movements are very rare.
  • TAG Heuer in-house automatic movement 6, with 27 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 44 hour power reserve.
  • TAG Heuer automatic Caliber 16, base movement ETA/Valjoux 7750, with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph, and a 42 hour power reserve.

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A Review of TAG Heuer’s reputation

TAG Heuer Carrera(Image By Micky Aldridge)

TAG Heuer has a very good reputation – it’s among the most famous and reputed luxury watch brands available on the commercial market today. This is indeed an immensely popular brand. TAG Heuer offers their watches at several retailers all over the world.

I’d rank TAG Heuer as the 23rd most prestigious luxury watch brand in the world. TAG Heuer absolutely ranks above Tissot, Certina, Victorinox, and I’d say that TAG Heuer absolutely ranks higher than most other brands out there – Swiss and non-Swiss alike.

What truly characterizes TAG Heuer more than any other brand:

The lion’s share of their watches are found in a relatively affordable price range, available to most people. These are the watches that you’ll find online or at your local retailer.

At the same time, TAG Heuer produces a very limited number of radical new concept extreme luxury watches, that could be classified as Haute Horlogerie – higher watchmaking. These watches contain complications and radically new movement technologies. These watches aren’t mass produced, and aren’t ideal for daily usage, and usually aren’t available at luxury watch retailers. If they indeed are available, they are extremely rare – that’s for sure!

Speaking of achievements and accomplishments, TAG Heuer has won several Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix Awards.

The watch brand is famous and immensely popular, but as far as price point, prestige, movement technology, movement complications, innovation, independence, and impact on watchmaking history are concerned, TAG Heuer isn’t playing in the same league as Omega, Breitling or Rolex.

On the other hand, TAG Heuer sells a considerably larger volume of timepieces than the abovementioned brands, due to the watch manufacturer’s relative affordability.

The manufacturer doesn’t belong to the most expensive or prestigious watch brands in the world, but does indeed belong among the most famous ones.

TAG Heuer is famous because it’s a Swiss luxury brand that offers relatively affordable Swiss luxury watches with a distinct, rugged and sporty look to them.

TAG Heuer is primarily associated with marine activities, golf and motorsports, such as Formula 1. Since the Summer Olympics in 1920, TAG Heuer has consistently been a major sponsor of sails, sport events and motorsports. TAG Heuer has been for a long time the official partner of Formula-1 events until 2003.

Many celebrities endorse TAG Heuer, such as Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Tiger Woods.

In the past, the famous actor Steve McQueen promoted TAG Heuer as well. Back then, it was called Heuer without the “TAG” prefix.

TAG Heuer is an old Swiss brand. It was originally called Heuer and was established in 1860. In 1985, Heuer was purchased by Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG), and thusly became TAG Heuer. It has been called TAG Heuer ever since 1985. If you take a look at vintage “TAG Heuer” watches, you’ll see that they are actually just called Heuer.

The reason Heuer was purchased by Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) in 1985, is attributable to the quartz crisis or quartz revolution – depending on how you see it.

Japan was developing cheap and affordable battery/quartz watches and many traditional Swiss luxury watch brands and luxury watch manufacturers, that made automatic and mechanical watches, either went bankrupt or were severely hit, financially speaking, by the competition from Japan. That’s why Heuer was purchased by Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG).

Since the 1980s, the world market has become increasingly interested in automatic and mechanical watches again, and automatic and mechanical watches are almost synonymous with luxury watches. Today, there is a huge global demand for automatic and mechanical watches!

Today, TAG Heuer is wholly owned by the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton/Moët Hennessy). TAG Heuer is still a Swiss brand since it fulfills are criteria for being Swiss: the movements are manufactured and assembled in Switzerland, and the final inspection takes place in Switzerland as well.

Most of the movements employed by TAG Heuer are actually standardized ETA/Valjoux movements, manufactured by Swatch Group – which happens to be a competitor of TAG Heuer’s owner – the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton/Moët Hennessy).

TAG Heuer’s fame, if you ask me, is first and foremost attributable to marketing and not necessarily to the technology or the technological prowess of the TAG Heuer brand.

TAG Heuer rarely makes its own movements (TAG Heuer does make a few in-house movements) and rarely makes any complications. TAG Heuer likes to stick to the basics: hour -, minute -, and second-hands, and a date window. On the other hand, that’s what most people need and want.

As far as movements are concerned, TAG Heuer isn’t necessarily “better” than say Tissot, Certina or Longines. Yes no doubt, TAG Heuer belongs to the higher tier among affordable Swiss luxury brands, but the higher price point alone doesn’t suggest any immediate technical advantages – maybe except for its build quality.

I can personally attest to the fact that TAG Heuer is usually better built than more affordable brands, such as Tissot, Certina and Victorinox.

As far as build quality is concerned, I’d say that TAG Heuer and Longines are pretty much equal – I haven’t noticed any major differences between these two brands. TAG Heuer tends to be slightly more expensive than Longines though, but this is probably attributable to TAG Heuer’s marketing, fame and popularity, and a larger demand for TAG Heuer.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer and TAG Heuer Formula 1, are known to be sturdy, and can be used for sports, physical activities, and water activities, such as swimming, snorkeling and diving.

If you want a durable, sturdy and sporty looking Swiss luxury watch, in a relatively affordable price range, then I can say with complete certainty that TAG Heuer is the right choice.

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A Review of TAG Heuer’s ranking

My ranking of TAG Heuer: 23rd.

It’s debatable how you actually rank a brand, and a ranking is never objective, but the best way to turn a subjective ranking into an “objective” one is to rely on certain criteria. My ranking criteria of course are entirely subjective, and they aren’t set in stone.

I use 14 criteria in determining the ranking of a particular brand, such as (1) a long and respected history, (2) limited supply and large demand, (3) reputation/status/prestige, (4) whether the brand is independent or not, (5) pioneering spirit and innovations, (6) impact on watchmaking history and modern culture, (7) general in-house production, (8) whether the brand relies on in-house made movements or not, (9) whether or not the brand makes movement complications, (10) steel grade, (11) build quality, (12) price range, (13) good resale value, and (14) market presence.

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Prices for TAG Heuer Watches

  • TAG Heuer Aquaracer can be found in the $1,000-$6,000 price range. Most of these watches, can be found in the $1,000-$3,000 price range.
  • TAG Heuer Formula 1 can be found in the $900-$3,000 price range. Most of these watches, can be found in the $900-$2,000 price range.

TAG Heuer Carrera(Image By Personey)


TAG Heuer Official Website


 

2 thoughts on “Buy a TAG Heuer watch

  1. Paul

    Hello Alexander!
    I immensely enjoyed this in depth article on TAG Heuer!
    Currently, I’m contemplaying buying my first true and serious luxury watch (I mostly had Seikos and Citizens in the past), and it seems that TAG Heuer and Longines are pretty much equal, from what I understand. So my question to you is which of these two brands is preferable and which is relatively speaking the “better” brand of the two – TAG Heuer or Longines?

    Thank you!
    Paul

    Reply
    1. Alexander Post author

      Hello Paul and a very warm welcome to swissdiverswatches.com.
      Both brands are excellent, have a comparable build quality, use the same 316L stainless steel and rely mostly on generic ETA/Valjoux movements, so the preference given here is largely an aesthetical one. TAG Heuer is a sportier brand while the Longines exudes a feeling of classic and elegant timelessness.

      My recommendation for you is to pick a watch that appeals to your feelings.

      Cheers
      Alexander

      Reply

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