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The TAG Heuer Brand Story

From the history of the Swiss-made TAG Heuer brand, to some of the most iconic TAG Heuer watches out there, we discuss all in our TAG Heuer brand story.

19 February 2021 EDITOR - ERNEST JONES

Impeccably designed, expertly crafted and oozing luxury Swiss style, it’s no wonder that TAG Heuer is one of the most sought-after watch brands in the world. From their reputation for timekeeping excellence to becoming synonymous with motorsport, particularly the glamorous world of Formula 1, TAG Heuer is all about bold innovation, contemporary design, and undeniable style.

Here we’ll explore this iconic brand’s history, from its humble beginnings in 1860 to becoming the innovative powerhouse of Swiss technical excellence that we know today. We’ll also identify who owns TAG Heuer, look at some of the very best TAG Heuer watches and touch upon which vintage TAG Heuer watches are the most collectable.

TAG Heuer: a history

In 1860, and at the tender age of just 20, Edouard Heuer set up his eponymous watchmaking company, Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG, in the Swiss municipality of St-Imier. At this time, the company was exclusively producing pocket watches. But it wasn’t long before young Edouard Heuer began to demonstrate his ability to innovate, with the first of many patents being granted in 1869, for a keyless, crown-operated winding system.

Spotting the emerging demand for the highly precise timekeeping required for sporting events, the company designed its first pocket watch chronograph in 1882. Five years later, Heuer made a seminal breakthrough with a pocket watch that could start and stop timing using just one button. His improved oscillating pinion, a module used in chronograph devices, is still in use today. At the beginning of the 1900s, Heuer was granted a patent for the ‘Time of Trip’ the very first dashboard chronograph, a rugged design for planes and cars.

The ambition and innovation of Heuer led to many remarkable engineering feats. A key development that was to shape the business, was the launch of one of the first chronograph wristwatches in 1914. Another great accomplishment came in 1916, with the production of a stopwatch capable of measuring to 1/100th of a second.

Such precision and expertise were widely recognised by many sporting events, and Heuer was appointed as the official timekeeper at three Olympic games, from 1920 in Antwerp through to Amsterdam in 1928. This was just the beginning of the company's long and illustrious relationship with sporting bodies and events, which was to become even more prominent in the ensuing years.

Current day partnerships include a wide range of sports events, teams, and individuals, with brand ambassadors including the likes of leading golf professional Tommy Fleetwood, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová and racing driver Jean-Eric Vergne.

What does TAG Heuer mean?

Heuer, and many other luxury Swiss watchmakers who crafted high-quality mechanical watches, were hit hard by the invention of quartz movements in 1969. These battery-powered movements were much cheaper to manufacture and didn't require hand finishing, so they could be sold profitably at much lower prices.

Over time, Swiss watches lost market share and, ultimately, TAG Heuer was formed when Techniques d’Avant Garde, known as the TAG Group, acquired Heuer in 1985. Today, TAG Heuer honours the work of the four generations of the Heuer family who had nurtured the brand. So much so that Jack Heuer returned as Honorary Chairman in 2001.

TAG Heuer: The Golden Years

When Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of Edouard, took over the running of the family business in 1958, the company began to focus exclusively on the design and manufacture of chronograph wristwatches, stopwatches, and dashboard instruments. An association with many forms of motorsports quickly followed, which is famously reflected in most of the stunning watch models Heuer designed from the 1960s onwards. Vintage watches from this era have become very sought after by collectors.

Where are TAG Heuer watches made?

When Edouard Heuer first set up his watchmaking business, it was initially located in the Swiss municipality of St-Imier, at his family’s farm. Today, the company has a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where all watches by TAG Heuer are precision engineered to remarkable tolerances and using only the very finest materials. After exhaustive testing of the movement and casing, each watch is carefully and expertly finished by hand. TAG Heuer watches showcase Swiss engineering at its finest.

How to identify a real TAG Heuer watch

As an official retail partner, purchasing a TAG Heuer watch from Ernest Jones is your guarantee of authenticity. But if you’re contemplating buying a pre-owned timepiece and are wondering how to tell if a TAG Heuer watch is authentic, there are certain considerations to take into account. You can reduce the risk of being sold a fake by dealing with a reputable dealer, who is also likely to provide you with proof of authentication for extra peace of mind. It’s also best to do some thorough online research to know exactly how the watch should look, including the details of the hands and display. If you are buying a second-hand model, then bear in mind that luxury watches are made with only the very finest materials and are manufactured to the highest standards. So, although older watches can show signs of ageing, the piece's overall quality shouldn't be compromised.

Although serial numbers are not a guarantee of any given watch's origins, it is still a useful check. The serial number is unique to each individual timepiece and includes the year of manufacture and the model number. You'll find the serial number on the back of the case of almost all TAG Heuer watches, save from a few antique models. You'll most likely see two rows of numbers. The top row is simply the generic model reference, whereas the bottom row, usually comprising two or three letters followed by four digits, is the unique serial number that you should look for. You can check this number against an official TAG Heuer database.

Which TAG Heuer watch should I buy?

Customers sometimes ask us ‘are TAG Heuer watches good?', and the answer is a resounding yes! Not only are they expertly crafted and innovatively designed, but the stylish range of TAG Heuer ladies’ watches and TAG Heuer men’s watches has something for everyone. From the uber-cool retro styling of Monaco to the classic Carrera, modern Connected smartwatch, stylish and contemporary Formula 1 range, and the sophisticated diver’s watch Aquaracer, you really will be spoilt for choice when deciding which TAG Heuer to buy.

TAG Heuer Carrera

A total classic, the Carrera is one of the world’s most famous sports watch designs. With its name taken from the Carrera Panamericana road race, this iconic model was first issued in 1963 and was designed by Jack Heuer himself. After formalising a relationship with the Ferrari F1 team in the early '70s, Heuer gifted each team driver a solid gold Carrera. Modern designs include the Carrera Porsche Chronograph, an exciting new collaboration between two legendary brands.

Shop TAG Heuer Carrera

TAG Heuer Aquaracer

The Aquaracer, a classic diver’s watch, is based on the Series 2000 collection that was first launched in 1982. Relaunched in 2004 as Aquaracer, the current model is packed with innovative features, including a stylish 12-facet bezel, water resistance to 300m, and a unidirectional bezel. Oozing that sophisticated sports watch style and available in a striking array of coloured dials and either automatic or quartz movements, this stunning collection for men and women offers high-performance timepieces that are suitable for all occasions.

Shop TAG Heuer Aquaracer

TAG Heuer Formula 1

The brand’s rich history with motorsport, particularly Formula 1, is reflected in this iconic series. It was the first new launch after Heuer’s acquisition by Techniques d’Avant Garde in 1986, and although the synthetic case and bright colours of the very early models are a far cry from the current Formula 1 range, it was an instant hit. Relaunched in 2004, the Formula 1 collection is sleek, super-tough, and undeniably stylish, making it the ideal partner for ladies or gents looking for a sophisticated, sports-luxe timepiece.

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TAG Heuer Monaco

Images from 1971 of Steve McQueen in the Hollywood blockbuster film, ‘Le Mans’, wearing the famous square Monaco model and a racing suit emblazoned with the Heuer logo have become truly iconic. The Monaco watch, named after the Formula 1 race, has been re-issued several times including some sought after limited editions. A real testament to Heuer’s innovative design.

Shop TAG Heuer Monaco

Shop TAG Heuer today

Whether you are treating yourself to your dream watch or looking for the perfect luxury gift for a loved one, with their stylish designs, high performance and impressive precision, a TAG Heuer watch would make a brilliant choice. Browse the entire collection of TAG Heuer watches online today at Ernest Jones or book an in-store or virtual appointment with our friendly experts who’ll be happy to show you the range and answer your questions. Want to know more about all things TAG Heuer? Head over and explore our TAG Heuer Watches Buying Guide to help you find the perfect timepiece.