Motor Racing & Watches

From the very first motor race in 1894 – the Competition for Horseless Carriages from Paris-Rouen – the link between motor racing and time keeping was firmly established. While the 127km race was timed in increments of only 30 seconds, the continued development of faster cars and closer racing saw the race to divide a single second into ever-smaller fractions. TAG Heuer has long been associated with motor racing and the progression in timing precision, from the “Time of Trip” Dashboard Chronograph in 1911, to the revolutionary 1/ 100th Mikrograph stopwatch in 1916, the electronic 1/ 1,000th Mikrotimer in 1966, and the ultimate- the 1/ 10,000th second timing system provided to the Indy 500.

TAG Heuer’s motor racing heritage comes not just from its timing equipment, but also from its link to the most famous Formula 1 teams and drivers. Heuer was the official timing partner for the Ferrari Formula 1 team from 1971-1979, where its watches were worn by the likes of Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve, Clay Regazzoni, Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti. Six years later, TAG Heuer’s parent companyTechniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) bought 50% of the McLaren Formula 1 team and supplied Porsche designed turbo engines to the team. The famous McLaren-TAG cars powered Niki Lauda and Alain Prost to World Championships, with other famous McLaren drivers including Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

In today’s TAG Heuer range, there are three models with direct links to motor racing – the Carrera, the Monaco and the Formula 1 series.

The Carrera was launched in 1963 and named after the famous Carrera Panamericana race, which was held in the 1950s across Mexico. Today’s Carrera Calibre 1887 shares the same design DNA as the original model: a stainless steel case with elegantly shaped lugs, a tachymetre scale (to allow speed to be calculated) and a Chronograph complication to allow events to be precisely timed. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Carrera, so expect TAG Heuer to pull out all stops to mark the milestone.

As well as being named after the most famous Grand Prix on the Formula 1 calendar, the square-case Monaco will forever be linked with actor Steve McQueen, who wore a blue Heuer Monaco in the motor racing film Le Mans. While you can still buy a Monaco that shares it design with the 1969 McQueen original, TAG Heuer has also reinvented the Monaco for the 21st century with the Monaco Twenty-Four, which takes its name from the 24-hours of Le Mans. The Monaco Twenty-Four uses the Calibre 36 movement, which is suspended in the case via four “shock-absorbers”.

To mark TAG’s partnership with both McLaren and TAG Heuer, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 series was launched in 1986, and ever since has been the most overtly sporting watch in the TAG Heuer range. The Formula 1 series was expanded in the last couple of years when the the Formula 1 Lady range was launched, the highlight being the Steel & Ceramic models. Available as a 3-hand watch or chronograph variant, it’s the combination of materials that sets this watch apart.

This model (Reference WAH1314) brings together stainless steel, ceramic and diamonds. The case alternates between polished and brushed stainless steel, which serves to emphasise and accentuate the polished surfaces. Contrasting the steel are the ceramic details- a polished ceramic fixed bezel and solid ceramic bricks in the bracelet. Giving the watch some sparkle are the 12 Wesselton diamonds on the dial that mark out each hour. Given the monochromatic-look of the steel and polished black ceramic, the diamonds stand out beautifully and give the watch a unique presence.

While different in design and materials, each of these TAG Heuer watches shares the same motor racing heritage – a passion that runs deep today at TAG Heuer, as evidenced by the internal specialist timing division dedicated to pushing the boundaries of precision. You can see the full range of both men’s and women’s motor racing inspired TAG Heuer watches and chronographs at the Watch Gallery.