Section 1 – History
TAG Heuer is a well-known Swiss luxury manufacturer of high-precision chronographs and watches. In time, the brand became so famous for its association with precision and motorsports that it expanded its product range by entering into eyewear and accessories through licensees.
TAG Heuer’s original name was “Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG”, and it was founded in St-Imier, Switzerland by Edouard Heuer in 1860. The TAG name is an acronym for “Techniques d’Avant Garde” – a mission that is still present today in the company’s motto: “Swiss Avant-Garde since 1860”.
Eduard Heuer’s obsession was the precise tracking of time, and this comes out very clearly from the first steps of his company. He developed and patented his first chronograph in 1882, and in 1887 he introduced an oscillating pinion concept that is still used by watchmakers today.
In 1911 he patented the “Time of Trip”, the first dashboard chronograph, to be used in cars, and after that, in airplanes. And in 1914 he adapted his chronographer designs to the wrist, creating his first wristwatch.
In 1916, his son, Charles-Auguste, created the Mikrograph, the first stopwatch featuring a high-beat precision movement capable of tracking time to the 1/100th of a second, and later, the “Semikrograph”, which was accurate to the 1/50th but had a split-second function.
In the 1930s the Autavia was introduced, first as a dashboard timer designed for cars and planes (AUTomobiles + AVIAtion). They also began manufacturing Flieger chronographs for the German Luftwaffe. A line that expanded in the 1940s, with the introduction of two and three register models.
After WWII, the company continued to manufacture their chronographs and cooperated with Abercrombie & Fitch to manufacture their watches. Heuer’s expansion and specialization continued through the 1950s, until the 1960s, when astronaut John Glenn used a Heuer stopwatch in the first manned NASA spaceflight, making Heuer the first company to send a watch into space.
The Autavia wrist chronograph was introduced in 1962, and the Carrera, designed by Jack Heuer, debuted in 1963. Together with Breitling and Hamilton, Heuer created a line of in-house automatic movements during the end of the 1960s. This was the time of the Monza, possibly Heuer’s most famous chronograph, brought to glory by its association with actor Steve McQueen.
Over the years, Heuer became more and more associated with the world of motorsports, with their products acting as the official timekeeper of many racing events. The company officially became TAG Heuer in 1985 when it was bought by the TAG group, before eventually ending up acquired by the LVMH group in 1999.
The TAG Heuer of today is very busy reinterpreting the spirit of its origins, and introducing such industry records like the Carrera Mikrograph chronograph, precise to the 1/100th of a second, launched in 2011, and the world’s fastest chronograph, the Mikrogirder 1/2,000th, launched in 2012.
Section 2 – Iconic pieces
The company’s lineup of models features several references that mark highlights in the history of watchmaking. The company is mainly focused on sports watches, chronographs being the main model, but has produced other beautiful timepieces as well.
The most famous TAG Heuer watch is the Monaco, worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 movie Le Mans – a watch so famous that several F1 racers wear it even today.
Other notable models are the Autavia and the Carrera, two of the company’s hallmarks for over 50 years. Other notable references are the Aquaracer line of diver watches and the Formula 1 line.
1 – Carrera line
The Carrera line was designed by Jack Heuer in homage to the famous “Carrera Panamericana”, a legendary Mexican car competition, and entered into production in 1963, featuring a Valjoux movement.
From then onwards it continued to be one of the most successful models manufactured by the company.
The original chronographer line has been enriched today by several other versions, all of which respect the original design linked to the racing tradition of this iconic and greatly loved timepiece.
2 – Aquaracer line
The Aquaracer represents the quintessential diver’s watch by TAG Heuer.
It is a typical diver watch, but apart from its name, it displays a vibrant design that subtly links it to the world of above-water racing.
The collection is composed of three-hand models and chronographers, and also features some interesting limited editions dedicated to famous personalities who have become style icons.
3 – Monaco line
The Monaco changed the world of horology in 1969 with its distinctive square shape.
It was one of the first watches featuring the Type 11 movement developed by the TAG Heuer-Breitling-Buren-Hamilton-Dubois Depraz consortium, with its typical winding crown located at nine.
Dedicated to the most fascinating F1 race track in the world, the Monaco is world-famous for its association with Steve McQueen, who displayed it in the 1971 film Le Mans, featuring the story of a rivalry between two race car drivers.
4 – Autavia line
The Autavia line is the successor of the first chronographer created by Heuer, and has preserved its timeless and classy 1960s inspirations, linked to the development of the chronograph as a dashboard instrument first and as a wristwatch later.
The Autavia, along with the Carrera, are the two oldest watch model’s in TAG-Heuer’s lineup. While the Carrera looks a bit more sporty, the Autavia preserves a vintage look that renders it unique and timeless.
5 – Formula 1 line
The F1 collection was the first introduced after Heuer became TAG Heuer, and carries the vibe of modernity and dedication to the sports racing world in the design of the timepieces as well as in the materials used in their construction, which include titanium and ceramic.
In the beginning, this collection featured very colorful designs with plastic cases in bright yellow and red colors, but over time has become more serious and sports-focused.
The F1 line is extensive, numbering over 50 references, and its diverse models offer both quartz and mechanical versions, to satisfy the needs and budget of every TAG Heuer fan.
Section 3 – News
Not really the type to rest on its laurels, TAG Heuer has developed its first fully manufactured balance spring in its history – the Isograph – an exceptional component, raising the standards of scientific research.
It is a lightweight, anti-magnetic and extraordinarily resistant creation, due to its material, a carbon composite compound.
The group is composed of a spiral and a specially designed balance. The watches equipped with it combine high performance with unparalleled chronometric precision, as all the models equipped with the Isograph spring are COSC-certified chronometers.
Capable of adapting to most mechanical components while maintaining the same level of performance, the Isograph technology has been applied to the IWC-manufactured Calibre Heuer 02 Tourbillon movement and the new Autavia collection presented at the last Baselworld: a collection that combines a legendary timepiece with a unique innovation for a watch that is more avant-garde than ever before.
Section 4 – Gossip/Style
Everybody knows the killer stare of uber-model Cara Delevingne, and her assertive attitude – well, when you are on the top of the world you deserve it, don’t you?
Cara Delevigne is a TAG Heuer ambassador and embodies the attitude of their wearers. The all-black, special edition TAG Heuer Carrera watch that she wears was created specifically for her and shows her glam outlook with the tongue-in-cheek attitude of someone who knows how not to take herself too seriously.
Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the other personalities chosen for the brand’s ambassador program. Not only for his qualities as an actor but more importantly, for his well-known activities on behalf of nature.
His green activism has earned him wide accolades, and so the company found him to be the perfect testimonial for the campaign “What are you made of”. The royalties generated from the deal have gone to support the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Green Cross International.
Parisian David Guetta is a world-famous DJ, music programmer, producer, and artist who has sold over nine million albums and 30 million singles worldwide. He is considered among the first DJs to get into electronic dance music.
Guetta is a personality that embodies the TAG Heuer spirit – “Never crack under pressure”, as one of its most famous slogans said – the resilience that this then virtually unknown DJ has demonstrated while ascending to the lofty heights of stardom.
Section 5 – Current Most Popular Models
The TAG Heuer is dominated by a few models which have been the reference for a countless array of versions, generally based on chronograph movements, but which have also stemmed calibers without the stop-watch function.
The most iconic and well-known model by TAG Heuer is the Monaco, which is available in a large variety of models and references.
The Autavia and the Carrera represent the company’s tradition and offer beautiful timepieces of different designs, some with a vintage inspiration, which is bound to not pass unnoticed.
The Aquaracer is also a well-sought model, due to its hybrid look that mixes the classic diver watch with motorsports style.
Of the latter, the F1 line represents a perfect expression. The timepieces of this collection are among the most affordable of the whole TAG Heuer experience, and offer any fan the pleasure of entering into this world with a low entry barrier. These watches – especially the vintage models in plastic – can also be bought at a substantial discount, making them the perfect entry point watch.
Last but not least, the company offers the most affordable Swiss-made tourbillon watch you can find, the $17,000 or so Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon with the Heuer 02T caliber. An amazing timepiece that puts the “T” word in reach of a plethora of users who could not have afforded it before.
Section 6 – Current Approximate Price List By Line/Model
The Carrera Line
The Carrera series features the typical sports chronograph, with a definitely personal vibe due to a design that hasn’t changed over the years.
It has evolved in time to include several traditional three-hand references as well. Over the years it has mounted several calibers, from the Valjoux 72 to the current Calibre 18, based on the ETA2892, and the current caliber 1887, based on the high-end Seiko 6578, and featuring a column wheel and oscillating pinion, like the one patented by Edouard Heuer in 1887. You will also find the Heuer 02T with tourbillon in this line.
There are also several limited editions available, and some of the three-hand references mount interesting complications, such as GMT. The collection offers cases that can go from simple stainless steel to technical materials to yellow and rose gold, mounted on leather wristbands or bracelets.
Dress/ Luxury Sports Watch
Stainless Steel, Titanium, Ceramics, Gold
The three-handed references in stainless steel start from around $1,500 upwards.
The chronographs, in stainless steel, from around $2,500, with the most technical, skeletonized versions, and the ones featuring cases in titanium or ceramics, starting from around the $3,500 mark.
The tourbillon version can be bought from around $12,000, upwards for the more technical references.
The precious metal versions start from the bimetallic ones (steel and gold) at prices similar to the steel models and rise up to the $3,500 for a three-hands version and the $5,000 of the chronograph.
Prepare to pay from $19,000 upwards for the tourbillon version in gold and around $30,000 for the Mikrograph limited edition.
The Aquaracer Line
The Aquaracer line melds the sporty character of the typical TAG Heuer production with the typical needs of the divers watch. The result is a watch that displays a definite and unique character, features specs needed for serious underwater use, such as a unidirectional 60-minute bezel in steel, titanium or ceramics; hands and indices covered with lume; and water resistance of 300 m (30 bar) or 500 m (50 bar). With the added plus of being definitely affordable.
Luxury Sports Watch
Stainless Steel, Titanium, Bimetal
The line offers both quartz and automatic watches, so the entry point is very low, around $500 for the first and around $1,000 for the others.
The collection features some chronographs, which are available for around $1,500.
The collection also offers different materials for the cases, such as titanium and bimetal (steel and gold). The titanium versions start from $2,300, while the bimetal ones are cheaper, from $1,300.
The Monaco Line
The Monaco, designed by Jack Heuer, is the company’s most distinctive watch, period.
Its original square case and the iconic 1970s look still capture the fancy of horology fans worldwide.
It was so peculiar when it came out, that it was chosen for the 1971 blockbuster film Le Mans, where Steve McQueen wore it on his right wrist, and this exposure made it a cult object.
However, its horological qualities are on par with its fame, as its movement is still a milestone in watchmaking. During the years, the Monaco has been enriched by numerous versions, from chronographs to three-handers, of smaller and larger sizes, all of which stay true to the model’s original beauty and character.
Dress and Luxury Sports watch
Stainless Steel, Gold, Diamonds
Date/Day, Power Reserve, Moon Phase, Chronographer.
An original vintage Monaco, with its caliber 11 movement, characterized by the peculiar crown position at nine, can be found on the market for around $17,500, while the modern Heritage versions retail for around $4,500.
The caliber 12 movement mounted Monaco, with a traditionally-placed crown at three, retails for around the same amount.
The Autavia Line
The Autavia line is the oldest in the TAG-Heuer’s lineup, and its vintage design still offers the charm and character of the 1960s.
It differs from the Carrera for being less sporty and more dressy – so it also looks great with a suit. Its distinctive black and white dial still follows the original design which rendered it famous and appreciated worldwide.
Some of the versions mount the original caliber 11, with its distinctive crown based at nine.
Luxury Sports Watch
The Autavia is available in stainless steel, starting from around $3,200 upwards; the limited editions start from around $6,500.
The Formula 1 Line
More than other lines of the company, the Formula 1 line offers watches of a vast array of sizes, calibers, and designs, all displaying a distinctive sporty character.
In this series, stainless steel is accompanied by other materials like titanium, ceramic, and aluminum, some of them treated to achieve a matte finishing.
A few F1 models are also suitable as diving watches, as they feature a unidirectional turning bezel and are water-resistant to 200m Some limited editions, dedicated to characters of the racing world, are also available.
Date/Day, GMT, Chronographer.
Due to the vast number of versions, some are very affordable, starting for around $750 for the quartz versions, and around $1,000 for the automatic versions.
The chronographs start in the $1,700 range and can go well into the $2,500 for the most technical versions, especially the black-coated ones.
Section 7 – Q & A
Why aren’t Tag Heuer watches ever mentioned as good watches, on Quora?
The short answer is: because most of them are not good, just average, especially given their price.
The longer answer entails understanding the brand positioning of the different watch brands, and their technical contents, especially during the later (post quartz crisis) period. But before this, just take a look above.
What you see on top is a version of their most iconic model: the TAG Heuer Monaco. It is so famous because the original was worn by one of the cooler actors of the world, which was Steve McQueen, in the movie Le Mans, in 1971.
What are your opinions on TAG Heuer watches for everyday wear? Are they worth the money, or would it be better to spend more and get an Omega?
As an owner of both in the past I can say Omega are better in terms of build quality and customer service.
I have owned a Tag Heuer Carrera but when it was sent for a service it came back with no repair work and getting parts proved difficult. My Omega came back as good as new.
They are much better made watches.
Why is a TAG Heuer watch much more expensive than a similar-looking Citizen?
That is because of branding, my friend.
Citizen is a Japanese brand. TAG is Swiss. Swiss brands have traditionally more Ooomph than japanese ones, especially in the Western countries – and I have to add, they do not really deserve it, as Japanese watches are among the best you can buy if you consider price/features ratio.
Why is a TAG Heuer CARRERA costly?
The cost is relative. To some, it will seem expensive, to others a good value.
It’s a good quality watch. It’s expensive to design, manufacture, and market a luxury watch.
Purchasing a TAG Heuer Carrera is considered by some to be a rite of passage. The cost of the watch is meaningful in that it represents the achievement of a goal. It’s an “I’ve made it” kind of feeling when you can purchase the Carrera. A Rolex for others can serve the same purpose.
Is Tag Heuer considered cool?
It’s considered cool by those who don’t want to spend a lot more money on more expensive watches. They’re good watches but not hand-finished, and they’ve only recently introduced an in house movement. Certain models are well regarded. The Carrera is popular and well-styled, and the Tag ‘Steve McQueen’ Monaco is cool.