A guide to TAG Heuer's motorsport models

TAG Heuer is a famous company in F1 and the watches are worn by racers!

I think many people have this image.

But how did this company, TAG Heuer, come into being, and at what point in history did it become accepted by the public?

I guess not many people know this.

Today, I will not be talking about the history of Heuer as a whole, but rather I will be focusing on the point in time when Heuer first came to the forefront and the watches that were popular during that time.

1. A brief explanation of the appeal of Heuer

2. Heuer’s development of automatic watches in the 1970s

3. A brief explanation of the alliance brand

4. List of Heuer sports models

5. From Heuer to TAG Heuer

It is as follows.

1. A brief explanation of Heuer's history and appeal

If I had to describe the watch brand Heuer in one word, it would be that it is a watch company for racers.

A good way to remember this is that Breitling is for pilots and Heuer is for racers; this will make it easy to imagine and remember even for those who are new to watches.

To put it simply, Heuer was originally a company capable of making highly accurate stopwatches.

In the 1920s and 1930s, chronographs capable of measuring to within 1/100th of a second became popular and were used as watches for the Olympic Games.

(1920 Antwerp Olympics, 1924 Paris Olympics, 1928 Amsterdam Olympics)

However, because Heuer was primarily known as a stopwatch company, it was unable to jump on the bandwagon when the era of wristwatches began.

Of course, that doesn't mean Heuer didn't make watches.

Since the 1940s (due to World War II), the company has supplied small numbers of military watches to various countries, and the Swiss luxury jewelry house Thuler also commissioned Heuer to manufacture watches.

For a product to be adopted for military use, it must have the appropriate level of technical capability and reliability.

The same is true when we receive requests from high-end jewellery stores.

By the way, the reason why we received the request from Thuler is that the founder was a man named Edward Heuer, who originally bought minerals (precious stones) from Australia, processed them, and sold them.

So I think there was a connection with Thuler.

So it was definitely a company with strong technical capabilities.

However, back then, they weren't what we might imagine today as a watch brand for racers, but rather a stopwatch company that was a step above the many other watch brands out there.

That was the extent of my understanding.

Therefore, in the history of wristwatches, Heuer watches came into their own in the late 1960s, and until then, although Heuer had been successful with its stopwatches, it was still not a well-known company.

Therefore, when looking at Heuer watches, I think it will be enough to understand the watches made in the late 1960s to 1970s (if they are not for racing, I think it would include the 1940s to 1960s).

The models produced around this time are popular models from Heuer and have become its signature works.

So let's take a look at how Heuer actually got into the firelight.

2. Heuer’s development of automatic watches in the 1970s

Eager to shed its image as a stopwatch company, Heuer turned its attention to the golden age of sports car racing.

In the 1950s, motor racing became popular and brands such as Omega and Rolex began to participate in motor racing watches, and watch companies began to build close relationships with them.

Around the same time, Omega's Speedmaster was adopted by NASA for the first time, further increasing Omega's popularity.

Meanwhile, Heuer was making a foray into the racing industry with the automatic chronograph, a technology that was the subject of fierce competition in the watch industry at the time.

Development of the automatic chronograph began in the 1940s, but it took nearly 30 years for it to become a reality, as it required packing many more components into the already small space of a watch.

Therefore, Swiss watch brands, realizing that it would be difficult to develop the product alone, decided to form an alliance and carry out development.

3. A brief explanation of the alliance brand

This is about an alliance of Swiss brands, but there is one company that has been developing the product on its own from the outside.

This was in 1969, before the quartz shock, the first automatic chronograph was released outside of Switzerland.

This was SEIKO, Japan's strongest brand.

In response to this, two Swiss automatic chronograph associations were formed.

The first one is

Heuer (Leonidas)-Breitling Alliance

Leonidas is a sister company of Heuer.

To this was added Buren and its parent company Hamilton, and the chronograph manufacturer Dubois-Dépraz, which developed the chronograph mechanism, completing the alliance of these four companies.

This is the Cal. 11, which is installed in the Chronomatic, a model of Breitling that we all know.

The second one is

Movado Zenith Alliance

Both companies were manufacturers capable of making their own movements, so they brought together their best technology and spent seven years on design and research to create the high-end automatic movement El Primero.

This is caliber 3019PHC.

These two companies, one Japanese and one Swiss, simultaneously released the automatic chronograph in 1969.

There are various opinions on which was the first, so I won't go into detail here.

4. List of Heuer sports models

With this race to develop the world's first automatic chronograph as a backdrop, let's take another look at Heuer.

Since this automatic chronograph was also being produced by a rival company, we needed to come up with a way to make our product easily recognizable at a glance.

These model names are "Autavia," "Monaco," and "Carrera."

Heuer Autavia

First, let me introduce you to the Autavia.

These watches are designed so that at a glance they are clearly automatic chronographs.

It has a crown on the opposite side compared to other watches.

The basic crown is on the left side as opposed to the right.

This design allowed them to differentiate their watches from those of other companies and make it clear at a glance that they were automatic chronographs.

If you look at Heuer's designs, you can see that about half of them have this left-side crown, giving you a sense of their spirit in taking on the challenge of motorsports with automatic chronographs.

The name of this model, Autavia, comes from the fact that the "Autavia" was the first dashboard timer installed in an automobile or aircraft at the time.

As explained earlier, Heuer was not originally a watch company, but had strengths in other products, and in 1933 it began making dashboard timers for automobiles and aircraft.

The name of the dashboard is a combination of the two names "AUTomobile" (automobile) and "AVIAtion" (aviation).

So, the name of the dashboard timer has been brought over to a wristwatch.

By the way, since the Autavia was born in 1933, before the automatic chronograph, a mechanical chronograph was made and released in 1962.

Manual winding chronograph Heuer

Now, let's take a look at the motorsport models that have been derived from the Autavia.


Heuer Carrera

Compared to the Autavia, the tachymeter on the bezel is embedded into the dial.

The name Carrera comes from the legendary race "Carrera Panamericana Mexico", which was held only five times since 1950.

The event was a grueling race that involved driving approximately 3,000 kilometers on public roads over five days.

To give you an idea of ​​how far 3000 kilometers is, it's 1000 kilometers from Tokyo to Fukuoka.

So think of it as repeating that three times over a five day period.

No, that's too harsh, lol

The company's then-president, Jack Heuer, found this race romantic and thrilling and named the car Carrera after the race.


Heuer Monza

In Italy there is the Monza Circuit.

This circuit is so large that it is even used to host the F1 Grand Prix.

It feels similar to the Suzuka Circuit in Japan.

The MONZA was born in 1975 to celebrate the victory of Ferrari's popular driver, Niki Lauda, ​​in the World Championship .


Heuer Montreal

This name is also taken from the name of a racing circuit; there is a circuit in Canada called the Montreal Circuit.

The Montreal Circuit is also very large and is where the F1 Grand Prix is ​​held.

Its distinctive feature is the use of an oval case, which is something that very few companies still use these days.

The Montreal was born in 1972, but it is said that this model remained popular until the 1980s.

That being said, even now, it's still a cool and advanced design.

Now, let's introduce some of the rectangular models that everyone loves.



The Heuer Camaro was produced for a relatively short period between 1968 and 1972, and its name was derived from the Chevrolet Camaro, which was the pace car for the Indy 500 (a Formula One race held in Indiana, USA) at the time.

A pace car is a car that leads the race participants, guiding them around the course before the actual race begins.

Imagine it as something like a police motorcycle in a relay race.

It features a cushion case that is slightly larger than the Carrera of the time , and some models are equipped with the Valjoux 72, a hand-wound chronograph that was used before automatic winding watches were invented.

It's square, so it feels sturdy and cool, doesn't it?


Heuer Monaco

And finally, I would like to introduce Monaco, which you all know.

This one is also named after the Monaco Circuit.

Two years after its launch in 1969, in 1971 the Monaco was on the wrist of racing driver and brand ambassador Jo Siffert.

Jo Siffert

* Jo Siffert

In the same year, Steve McQueen played Siffert in the film Le Mans, which brought him further attention.

Steve McQueen

* Steve McQueen

By the way, think of Steve McQueen as an American version of Kimura Takuya.

In 2001, there was a drama called "HERO" starring Kimura Takuya.

At that time, the down jacket that Kimutaku was wearing was really cool, so I wondered what brand it was from.

And so, Moncler quickly became popular in Japan.

This is how the watch worn by McQueen in the glorious Le Mans film gets the most attention.

The main feature of the Monaco was that it achieved a practical level of waterproofing in a square case, something that had previously been thought to be impossible.

With such practical capabilities, its entry into motor racing, which was at the peak of its boom at the time, and events such as ambassador contracts with racing drivers to produce films, Heuer established itself as a well-known brand of motor racing watches.

5. From Heuer to TAG Heuer

The name of the current company will be preceded by a tag.

From here, let's take a look at the process of Heuer changing into TAG Heuer.

This is true for any Swiss watch brand, but the Seiko quartz shock of 1971 caused devastating damage to watch brands that focused on mechanical watches.

Although the popularity of racing watches remained strong, Heuer was unable to resist the tide of quartz and its performance gradually began to decline.

As a result, in 1982, the company became part of Piaget.

However, three years later in 1985, the company was put up for sale by Piaget and was revived with financial assistance from the TAG Group.

At this time the brand name was changed to "TAG Heuer".

In 1999, the company became part of LVMH in order to further strengthen its management.


When I talk to customers who are Heuer fans, we come to the conclusion that the watches from the Heuer era before it became TAG Heuer are really great.

I often hear this story.

I tend to sympathize with the opinions of customers, as many of the Heuer watches from the 1940s to the 1970s are ones that exude the spirit of "We're going to make a living no matter what!"

Perhaps it is because I know the brand's history that I can empathize with it and understand how hard it has worked to establish itself to this point, but all of that may be what makes the watch so appealing.