MasterHorologer

TAG HEUER

TAG Heuer, the leader in prestigious sports watches and chronographs since 1860, is one of the largest and fastest growing luxury Swiss watch brands. The Swiss watchmaking legend draws upon its active engagement in the world of sports to create the most accurate measuring instruments and sports watches in the world. TAG Heuer is the first watchmaker ever to master luxurious chronographs with an unsurpassed precision of 1/10th, 1/100th and 1/1,000th of a second.

From the Olympic Games in the 1920s to its role as official timekeeper to within 1/10,000th of a second for the legendary Indy 500, TAG Heuer, in a constant quest for innovation, excellence, performance and prestige, continues to aim ever higher, as reflected by its partnership with its partnership with some of the prestigious Formula 1 teams and their drivers.

TAG Heuer is a privileged member of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), the most exclusive club in the Swiss watchmaking industry.

History of TAG Heuer Watch brand

In 1860, at the age of 20, Edouard Heuer founded a watchmaking workshop in Saint-Imier, in the remote Jura Mountains of Switzerland. It was the start of TAG Heuer’s extraordinary story, which transformed the company originally named Heuer, after its founder, over 125 years into the company we know today.

At this period in time, all watches were wound with a key. In 1869, two years after he moved his workshop to Bienne, Edouard Heuer changed the course of watchmaking history forever with his first patented invention: a keyless, crown-operated winding system.

A huge success at the 1873 Universal Exhibition in Vienna, this new generation of timepieces soon became the most coveted in the world. When powerful American watch manufacturers moved aggressively into the European market, Edouard Heuer responded by pushing through innovations in every area of design, engineering, and manufacturing, thus helping to make Switzerland the world leader in the watchmaking industry.

As sporting competitions rapidly expanded—on water, grass, cinder running tracks, and roads—measuring time accurately became increasingly important. Edouard Heuer acted upon this and, in 1882, he became one of the first to produce pocket chronographs in large quantities. In 1887, he patented one of the most important innovations in watchmaking: the famous Oscillating Pinion still used to this day by leading manufacturers in the production of mechanical chronographs.

The revolutionary device has allowed the chronograph to function very neatly by replacing the two large wheels of the anterior movements. With this breakthrough invention, TAG Heuer became the reference standard in chronographs and timing instruments for high-level sports. In 1889, at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, the company was awarded a silver medal for its pocket chronograph collection. When Edouard Heuer died in 1892, his creative vision and passion for innovation had laid the foundation for a watchmaking dynasty.

After Edouard Heuer’s death, the company ownership passed to his two sons, Jules-Edouard and Charles-Auguste Heuer. Their daring and intuition brought TAG Heuer to the forefront of high-quality sports timing and chronographs. The two brothers were convinced that the company’s future would unfold outside Switzerland. They forged strong ties with local importers in other countries, such as Henry Freund in the United States.

By this time, they had also seen an opportunity in sports, where there was an even greater demand for precision in timekeeping. The Time of Trip, patented in 1911, was the first 12-hour dashboard chronograph for cars and aircraft. It indicated the time and the duration of the journey. This innovation was a great success with aviation clubs. In 1919, the Zeppelin R34, with a Time of Trip on board, made the first flight over the North Atlantic. In 1929, Hugo Eckener equipped his Graf Zeppelin with this instrument before completing the first round-the-world trip in an airship.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the timekeeping world was confronted with the challenge of increasing precision. Consequently, Charles-Auguste set a goal for his employees: “Make a stopwatch capable of a timekeeping precision five to ten times greater than anything that exists today.”

Thus, in 1916, the Mikrograph and Microsplit, and Semikrograph and Semicrosplit, were born. These were the world’s first mechanical stopwatches that were accurate to 1/100th of a second and 1/50th of a second, respectively. At that time, other timing instruments could only measure to the nearest 1/5th of a second. This new development revolutionized science, industry, and watchmaking, and made TAG Heuer the natural choice as an official supplier of chronographs for the Olympic Games in Antwerp (1920), Paris (1924), and Amsterdam (1928).

Thousands of Mikrographs were produced over the next six decades, until their discontinuation in 1969, thus providing TAG Heuer with a unique expertise in manufacturing movements that beat at 360,000 times an hour. The first alpine slalom and downhill ski races were timed by TAG Heuer, starting in 1928. Then, in the 1930s, the company proved itself, serving as the timekeeper of the speed-skiing race in St. Moritz and the Bobsleigh World Championship in Caux.

In 1931, Professor Auguste Piccard, a specialist of cosmic radiation, led the first stratospheric flight. To commemorate the world-record altitude of 15,781 meters in a balloon, the city of Bienne gave Professor Piccard a gold TAG Heuer chronograph. In 1947, TAG Heuer presented him with another chronograph featuring hands with no radium, so it would not interfere with the cosmic-ray measurements.

In 1933, the company launched the Autavia (a combination of “AUTomobile” and “AVIAtion”), the first onboard stopwatch for cars and aircraft. This instrument was often mounted with a Hervue watch on a chrome base and affixed to a dashboard.

TAG Heuer’s cutting-edge chronographs soon appeared on the wrists of famous people around the world, including Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry Ford, Prince William of Sweden, and King Bhumibol of Thailand. From the racetrack to the water, TAG Heuer continued to innovate. Since regatta timekeeping on Lake Geneva in the 1920s, sailing has inspired the company to use new materials and create new functions, as in 1950, when TAG Heuer unveiled its patented Mareograph, a unique sailing chronograph derived from the earlier Solunar watch, which let fishermen know when fish were feeding. Called the Seafarer in the United States, the new chronograph was the first with a tide indicator and a five-minute countdown function for sailing competitions.

In 1955, TAG Heuer unveiled the Twin-Time, a GMT model that displayed two time zones simultaneously. In 1958, the company presented its famous onboard timer, the Rally-Master, consisting of a Master-Time (eight-day clock) and a Monte- Carlo (12-hour stopwatch). The following year, Hubert Heuer and his nephew, Jack Heuer (son of Charles-Edouard), set up Heuer Time Corporation, a new American subsidiary based in New York. On February 20, 1962, American astronaut John Glenn wore a TAG Heuer stopwatch when he piloted the Friendship 7 spacecraft on Mercury-Atlas 6, the first manned U.S. orbital mission, making TAG Heuer the first Swiss watchmaker in space.

In 1963, Jack Heuer turned his creative focus to the world of cinema, designing the Film-Master, which measured film sequences in 16 mm and 35 mm. This made the brand a Hollywood and Bollywood favorite, with TAG Heuer timepieces worn in many movies and by today’s stars. The following year, Jack Heuer turned to his overriding passion for motor racing with the inaugural launch of the legendary TAG Heuer Carrera.

A tribute to professional motor racing’s most grueling road race, the legendary Carrera Panamericana Mexico of the 1950s, this stunning piece of unconventional watchmaking technology was worn by numerous racing drivers. It remains one of TAG Heuer’s most popular, timeless, and iconic creations. In 1965, Jack Heuer unveiled a prototype of the Slalom Timer at the Basel Watch Fair. It was the company’s first miniaturized electronic timing instrument accurate to 1/100th of a second. The electronic revolution had begun.

One year later, Jack Heuer stunned the watchmaking world again, this time by introducing the Microtimer, the world’s first miniaturized electronic timing instrument accurate to an extraordinary 1/1,000th of a second. The most famous sports event after the World Cup and the Olympic Games is the America’s Cup. TAG Heuer was the Official Supplier of chronographs to the Intrepid team, which won the America’s Cup in 1967.

In 1969, the Swiss driver Jo Siffert signed on as a TAG Heuer brand ambassador, becoming the first racing driver sponsored by a watch manufacturer. At the beginning of the ’60s, Jack Heuer reached an agreement with two other Swiss watch manufacturers to create the world’s first automatic chronograph movement. They gave their top-secret project the confidential code name “99.”

The new Chronomatic Calibre 11 was launched in 1969. This first chronograph movement with an automatic micro-rotor mechanism powered both the TAG Heuer Carrera and Autavia, and also the legendary Monaco. This original automatic chronograph with a square, water-resistant case achieved a near-mythological status when Steve McQueen wore it in the film Le Mans (1971).

In 1971, Enzo Ferrari asked Clay Regazzoni, Swiss winner of the Italian Grand Prix, to find timing instruments for the 24 Heures du Mans race. TAG Heuer technology was ideally suited to the task, as demonstrated by the Le Mans Centigraph, which was able to measure time to 1/1,000th of a second. As Ferrari’s Official Timekeeper from 1971 to 1979, the brand played a key role in the team’s unprecedented string of world-championship victories, and saw its name linked to Ferrari legends such as Gilles Villeneuve, Niki Lauda, and Jody Scheckter. Meanwhile, in Bienne, TAG Heuer continued to innovate.

In 1973, the Microsplit 820 was unveiled, the first pocket quartz timing instrument precise to 1/100th of a second. In 1975, TAG Heuer launched the Chronosplit, the world’s first quartz wrist chronograph with a double digital display LCD/LED. The LCD on top showed the time of the day and the LED showed the stopped time to a precision of 1/10th of a second. Enzo Ferrari personally ordered 15 of these special Ferrari models. Other famous customers, such as Paul Newman, soon joined the ranks of Chronosplit owners. Just two years later, the company presented the world’s first digital-analog chronograph, the Chronosplit Manhattan GMT, forerunner of the Kirium Formula 1 chronograph.

The launch of the 2000 series in 1982 reinforced the unparalleled sporting spirit of the brand. This contemporary sports watch became an industry benchmark due to its six features: water-resistance up to 200 meters, a unidirectional turning bezel, luminescent hands and markers, a screw-in crown with a double gasket to ensure water resistance, a double-safety clasp, and scratch-resistant, sapphire-crystal glass. In 1984, Mike Birch broke the world record for the greatest distance sailed in 24 hours in his Formule Tag, the first Kevlar®-and-carbon-fiber catamaran.

In 1985, TAG Heuer teamed up with McLaren Mercedes, forming what would become one of the longest-running and most successful partnerships in Formula One history; TAG Heuer was soon linked to some of the team’s most famous drivers, including Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, and Mika Häkkinen. Launched in 1987, the S/el (sport and elegance) watch made its mark in the world of watchmaking, thanks to its signature feature: a double S-shaped bracelet. This famous watch reinforced TAG Heuer’s position as the industry reference for sport, elegance, and prestige. The S/el was the favorite model of the legendary Ayrton Senna, who signed on as a TAG Heuer brand ambassador in 1988.

In 1989, TAG Heuer became the Official Timekeeper for World Cup alpine skiing events in the United States and Canada. In 1991, it also added the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and in 1992, the Formula One World Championship. TAG Heuer used the most advanced technology to achieve a level of reliability comparable to that of atomic clocks. The timing of Formula One races, for example, was controlled by a GPS-satellite detection system, ensuring precision to a millionth of a second. In 1995, TAG Heuer was part of sailor Chris Dickson’s challenge in the Louis Vuitton Cup, which reached the semifinals.

In 1991, TAG Heuer launched the advertising campaign “Don’t Crack under Pressure,” depicting the intense concentration exerted by athletes and emphasizing the mental, rather than physical, side of sport, pushing barriers to reach new heights of performance and greater standards of excellence. The next campaign, “Success. It’s a mind game,” began in 1995, and was not only striking but also entirely original. The advertisements depicted the mental pressure that athletes subject themselves to in order to win.

TAG Heuer relaunched three of its classic series: TAG Heuer Carrera in 1996, Monaco in 1998, and Monza in 2001. In 1999, the company introduced the Link series, a bold reworking of the hugely successful S/el design.

In 1999, LVMH group (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) acquired TAG Heuer.

Milestones

Jack William Edouard Heuer, Honorary Chairman of TAG Heuer

Jack William Edouard Heuer was born in 1932 in Bern, Switzerland, as great-grandson of Edouard Heuer, the original founder of TAG Heuer in 1860. He holds an Electrical Engineering degree and a master in production and management from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich. During his student years he was very active in sports, mainly in skiing, as a member for several years of the Swiss University ski team. His fascination with sports would allow him during his business life to follow in the steps of his father and grandfather who in the very early days of the firm already developed time pieces for sports applications.

Mr. Heuer joined the family firm as a young engineer in 1958. A year later he started the first Heuer sales subsidiary in the United States, the Heuer Time Corporation, which still exists today as LVMH W & J USA. In 1962 he became majority shareholder of Ed. Heuer & Co. SA. Two years later the company acquired its largest competitor, the Leonidas Watch Co., and subsequently the company changed its name to Heuer-Leonidas SA.

As managing director of Heuer-Leonidas he was instrumental in pushing for the development of the world’s first automatic chronograph which was launched on March 3rd, 1969. In that same year Mr. Heuer’s company became one of the first non automotive sponsors of the Formula One racing circuit as the means to promote the Heuer brand on a worldwide basis. In 1971 he started a very close and successful technical co-operation with Ferrari in Formula One, which lasted 9 years and sealed TAG Heuer’s position in the high technology auto-racing field.

Having anticipated that the technological revolution of solid state electronics would totally change the world’s watch industry, he was one of the very early entrants into electronic timekeeping and helped launch several of the world’s first electronic timing instruments, such as:
• The Microtimer (1966), a low-cost portable timing instrument measuring to 1/1000th of a second
• The Microsplit 800 (1972), a handheld quartz stopwatch measuring to 1/100th of a second
• The Chronosplit (1975), first quartz chronograph measuring 1/100th of a second
• The ACIT (1976), an Automatic Car Identification and Timing System which applied the principle of putting a radio emitter on every Formula One car, to allow for precise timing, lap counting and car identification. This System, although in the meantime modified and permanently improved is basically still the one used today in Formula One timekeeping.
• The Chronosplit Manhattan (1977), an electronic wrist chronograph with analog reading of the time of day and digital readout of the stopwatch function.

In 1982 Mr. Heuer left the company as a result of a major restructuring that took place in the Swiss watch industry when Heuer-Leonidas SA was acquired by the Piaget group. Piaget resold the company in 1985 to the TAG Group (Techniques d’Avant-Garde) which renamed it TAG Heuer SA.

Mr. Heuer thereafter joined a Swiss management consulting firm where he became a partner. In addition to his consulting activity in 1983 he started to build a European marketing organisation for a Hong Kong based consumer electronics group called IDT (Integrated Display Technology Ltd). At the time this firm employed only about 200 people. Over the years he opened sales offices for the IDT Group in Germany, Switzerland, London, Paris, Milano and Madrid and was appointed Executive Director for Europe. The IDT Group which employs around 5’000 people is traded today publicly on the Hong Kong exchange.

After retiring as Executive Director for Europe in 2000, Mr. Heuer continued to be active in an advisory role and as a board member of the IDT International Group in Hong Kong until 2005. Over the past years Mr. Heuer stayed in contact with the management team of TAG Heuer and has been instrumental in the preparation of its well known history book “Mastering Time”.

In 1999 the LVMH Group acquired TAG Heuer and subsequently Mr. Heuer was appointed in 2001 Honorary Chairman of TAG Heuer with a special advisory role concerning the history and technological heritage of the company in addition to adding the benefit of his long experience in the watch industry.

Official website: https://www.tagheuer.com/en

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