In the mid 1980s, Heuer were storming along with diving watches as well as their new digital LCD timers like the Kentucky, the Senator and the Chronosplit. TAG – the Saudi-owned Techniques d’Avant Garde – were keen to buy the firm. The first watches from the new TAG Heuer company were the F1s – a series firmly linked to motorsport. They’re still going strong today, something underlined by TAG Heuer’s launch of four new models for the start of the F1 racing season. And, let’s face it, watches are the only interesting thing about F1 nowadays (hill, die on, don’t @ me etc). Editor’s note: Bahrain Circuit’s turn 4 notwithstanding.
You have a choice of a three-hander and three chronographs, all with 43mm diameter steel cases and quartz movements. The F1 has always had good genes. The first Eddy Burgener-designed watches were bright, easy to read and even a bit irreverent in a usually starchy industry. Burgener’s original F1 trademark was a prominent, unidirectional plastic bezel, these new watches stick with the bezel but up the quality by using tougher ceramic.
The three-hander, in the best tradition of the robust F1 series, looks like it’ll take a beating. Screw down crown, crown guards and an orange and grey stitched nylon strap that’ll survive plenty of abuse and come up, well, nylon-looking but happy. TAG Heuer tells us, perhaps a little optimistically, that the nylon strap “…recalls the harness inside a cockpit.” It’s probably the clearest to read of the quartet with white and black hands and markers standing out well against the orange dial.
Apart from dial and strap options, the three chronograph models are identical. Each dial has a grey base with a stippled texture that contrasts against the brighter hands and dial markers. You can pick bright yellow, along with a yellow stitched nylon strap, the same yellow but with a brushed bracelet and red with the same brushed bracelet.
Although TAG Heuer haven’t specified it, we’re guessing the whole plot is powered by the stone reliable 13 jewel Ronda 5040D quartz movement.
Some of the earlier incarnations of the F1 chrono haven’t been too easy to read (I’m looking at you, CAH1112 with your silver hands against silver subdials) but these new watches are all paragons of clarity. The lumed dauphin-style hands stand out well on the grey.
In terms of chrono functions, you get running seconds at 2 o’clock, 10ths at 6 (that then starts counting seconds after half an hour) and a thirty minute counter at 9. Chrono seconds gets taken care of by the centre seconds hand.
There’s always been a lot to like about TAG Heuer’s F1 watches. They were designed to be robust and functional but not take themselves too seriously. These four new models follow in the tradition very well indeed. Pricing on the new models starts at $1,400 for the time and date model, and goes up to $2,000 for the chronograph on bracelet. TAG Heuer.