TAG Heuer: The Chronograph that Paved the Way for the 1/100 World

TAG Heuer: The Chronograph that Opened the Way to the World of 1/100th Time



For those who love watching sports, the red and green emblem of TAG Heuer may be familiar to you. The TAG Heuer mark is displayed proudly alongside other major sponsors at international sporting events such as tennis and auto racing.


The ambassadors are a distinguished group of individuals who wear watches with sophisticated designs that have a long history.

Ayrton Senna, known as the "Sonic Prince," is a legendary racer in the world of motorsports who remains extremely popular today.

Steve McQueen, Hollywood legend, famous for the movie "Le Mans."

Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid forward, is currently considered the best soccer player in the world.

And the ambassadors aren't just sports superstars.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who won an Oscar for Best Actor.

Among Japanese players, Kei Nishikori, who has risen to become a top tennis player, and Shinji Kagawa, who is active in the German Bundesliga, are ambassadors for TAG Heuer.


The catalyst for the close relationship between sports and long-established watch manufacturer TAG Heuer was the chronograph, a signature watch that has astonished the world with its unique technological developments.


Here, I would like to trace the glorious history of TAG Heuer and its chronographs, which are as full of romance as the development of auto racing, while introducing some of its history.




The History of TAG Heuer



TAG Heuer is a long-established Swiss watch manufacturer with fans all over the world. Its history is very long, dating back more than 150 years.


As the company name TAG Heuer suggests, the founder's name was Edouard Heuer . He was just 20 years old when he founded the company in 1860 in the Swiss town of Saint-Imier. The company 's name at the time of its establishment was " Ed. Heuer & Co. " It was a very small watchmaking workshop.

Saint-Imier, the birthplace of Heuer, is a town in the mountains of Switzerland. It is a place where the watchmaking industry is thriving, even among the many watchmakers in Switzerland. Saint-Imier is also the birthplace of Longine, and Breitling, which gained fame in Geneva, was originally founded in this town.


 " Swiss Avant-Garde since 1860 "

( Literally "Swiss Avant-Garde since 1860 " )

TAG Heuer has this phrase as its company motto.
This can be felt in the watches they produce, which are the result of the company's spirit of constantly pursuing high design quality and the latest technology.



Numerous innovations

In 1869, Edward invented and patented the first stem winding system for pocket watches. Edward's next focus was motor sports, which were gradually gaining popularity at the time. It is no exaggeration to say that this focus created the "Tag Heuer identity" that followed. This was the catalyst for the company's efforts in chronographs.


In 1886, he attempted to improve mechanical chronographs with an "oscillating pinion" and obtained a patent for it. In 1889, he released the world's first pocket watch equipped with a split-second chronograph mechanism, and in the same year, Heuer's pocket chronograph collection won a silver medal at the World's Fair held in Paris.


In 1908, the company received a patent for the pulsometer dial, a prototype of technology still used in medical devices today, and also introduced the world's first clock with a dual function dashboard timer and journey time indicator for automobiles, which as the name suggests is a clock that is attached to the dashboard.

Heuer's rapid advance in technological innovation showed no signs of slowing, and in 1916 they released the Mikrograph, a high-performance watch that revolutionized sports. The Mikrograph was the first watch at the time to be able to measure to 1/100th of a second, and after its release, they were chosen as the official timepiece for the Antwerp Olympics in 1920. This marked the start of Heuer's widespread recognition of its accuracy, backed by advanced technology. It subsequently became the official watch of international sporting events.

This achievement was a testament to Heuer's unique technical capabilities, and it marked the beginning of the company's close relationship with time-based sports.



Technical capabilities shining through auto racing

TAG Heuer watches first became popular in auto racing, and between 1950 and 1970, the company continued to improve its watches, producing timepieces that were both accurate and beautiful.


It is said that it began in the 1930s. TAG Heuer released the Autavia in 1933. The Autavia was a dashboard watch equipped with a speed recorder, and was used in automobiles and aircraft after its release. The name Autavia is a combination of the words Automobile and Aviation .



In 1958, the Rallymaster was born, a watch that could run for eight days without needing to be wound. This watch was used in long-distance races and international rallies.


In 1964, the Carrera, a masterpiece that represents TAG Heuer, was born.


The Carrera, which became popular not only for its performance as a watch but also for its beautiful and sophisticated design, was inspired by the Carrera Panamericana Mexico car race.


This race took several days to cross the Pan-American Highway ( public road ) that connects Mexico's southern border with Guatemala to the northern border with the United States, and was called the toughest race in the world at the time. The Carrera watch, which was born from this popular race that was held for five years from 1950, is characterized by its clean, easy-to-read design as well as its high level of functionality.


In 1962, the company developed the Autavia chronograph, and two years later, Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio won the race. The chronograph, which is said to have contributed to this victory, has become synonymous with TAG Heuer.


In 1966, they developed a new clock that boasted an astonishing accuracy of 1 part per thousand.


Five years later, Steve McQueen, known as the original cool Hollywood handsome man, wore a Heuer Monaco watch in the movie "Le Mans," and it became the second most popular watch after the Carrera. The model worn in this movie is also known as the Steve McQueen Monaco Edition.


After the glory of this movie, Heuer was acquired and the company name was changed to TAG Heuer. TAG stands for T (Techniques) , A (d'Avant) , and G (Garde) , and it is the company motto.


In 1992, it was certified as the official timepiece of the prestigious F1 race, and in 2004, it developed the world's first ultra-high-performance chronometer capable of measuring to within 1/10,000th of a second for the Monaco V4 race.

As the company continued to improve its performance, it was acquired by the luxury brand Louis Vuitton, and began to have a side as a luxury brand. For example, the haute couture line that was launched around the same time released luxury watches studded with diamonds.


Currently, in addition to the Olympics and auto racing, it is also used in alpine skiing and sailing.



What is a Chronograph?

Mechanical chronographs have a very complicated structure, so even when pocket watches were mainstream, there were few companies that designed and produced them in-house, making them a valuable business. Therefore, in those days, most companies purchased watches from manufacturers that specialized in chronographs, such as Valjoux , Lemania , Venus , Angelus , and Excelsior Park , and then incorporated them into their own designs or improved them.
( In fact, the luxury watch brand Patek Philippe also uses Valjoux and other calibers as their base caliber. )


It was Heuer who, through repeated improvements to these complex watches, created the world's first watch capable of measuring to 1/100th of a second.


Heuer began commercializing chronographs at the end of the 19th century, when pocket watches were still mainstream. In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution led to the development of transportation methods such as railroads, and watches required accuracy down to the minute.


Simply put, a chronograph is a highly accurate watch with a stopwatch function.


Chronographs can be broadly divided into three types.


A type that allows you to start measuring immediately
The hour, minute, and second hands that indicate the time are all independent, making it easy to check the time even while measuring. The chronograph second hand is always waiting at the "0" (12 o'clock ) position, so you can start measuring immediately when you want to start.

A type that switches the watch mode to chronograph mode
This is a multi-function analog watch that has a chronograph function as well as an alarm and local time function. Each function can be switched to the mode you want to use.

Digital display type ( also known as multi-function chronograph )
This watch is a multi-function watch that displays both analog and digital time. The digital display is a chronograph. This type of watch is characterized by its ability to display split times and measure long periods of time, such as over an hour.




TAG Heuer Chronograph


The Carrera, a masterpiece of TAG Heuer, was designed by Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of founder Edward. The Carrera's sophisticated design has captivated watch fans around the world. The dial is large in size as a result of the pursuit of easy viewing. It features a design that stretches the dial to the very edge of the case and extended lugs to balance the watch on the wrist.



Other models include the Monaco and Formula 1 , which are designed for motorsports, and the Aqua Racer, which is designed for marine sports. One of the characteristics of TAG Heuer is that the origin of the watch is easy to understand from the name.

Celebrities who love TAG Heuer

Steve McQueen

Hollywood actor Steve McQueen, who served as TAG Heuer's second ambassador, was known to be a big fan of the brand, and was particularly fond of the Monaco.


Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna, the legendary F1 racer known as the "Sonic Prince," became the third ambassador after McQueen.



Leonardo DiCaprio

Hollywood actor DiCaprio, who became popular in Japan after his role in Titanic, is also known to be a TAG Heuer fan. He wore a Carrera 1887 Chronograph on the red carpet at the Japanese premiere of the movie Inception.

Finally, a bit of trivia.

The main character of the third part of the popular manga "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure", Jotaro Kujo, is said to wear a Tag Heuer watch. ( It seems out of place for a delinquent high school student. ) The model has not been identified, but fans have speculated that it may be a Formula 1 watch, since the author, Hirohiko Araki, is a die-hard F1 fan.