My Car Quest

April 1, 2020

Timing Is Everything For Tag Heuer

by Mike –

Usually people who admire classic cars also have an affinity for fine mechanical watches.

There is a history connecting the automobile and mechanical watches and few, if any, watch manufactures can claim a more important place in that history than Tag Heuer.

Tag Heuer Formula 1

Tag Heuer Formula 1

Founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer in Switzerland. Heuer was responsible for many watch innovations including the “Oscillating Pinion” which is still used today by all the leading mechanical chronograph makers. The patent has long expired.

Other achievements by Heuer:

* The “Time of Trip” is a 1911 patented dashboard mounted chronograph for cars and airplanes to keep track of the trip duration (we now have computers to do this).

Time of Trip by Tag Heuer

Time of Trip

* The first watches accurate to 1/100th of a second in 1916 (we still do not really need this accuracy for our personal watches but it was helpful in racing).

* John Glenn wore a Heuer chronograph on his first trip into space on February 20, 1962.

* Heuer introduces the “Carrera” chronograph in 1964 in honor of the Carrera Panamericana road race.

Carrera by Tag Heuer

A Modern Carrera

* The first miniaturized electronic timing instrument accurate to 1/1000th of a second in 1966.

* The first automatic chronograph in 1969.

The “Monaco” was the first automatic chronograph and the first water resistant watch in a square case. It was made famous by Steve McQueen in the 1970 movie Le Mans. The “Monaco” is named after the Monaco Grand Prix but was made famous in a movie about the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ironic?

Steve McQueen in Le Mans

Steve McQueen in the Movie Le Mans

This placement of the “Monaco” in Le Mans by Steve McQueen was not a paid product endorsement, as far as I know, but was very fortunate for Tag Heuer and one of the most valuable product placements in movie history, up there with the Aston Martin DB5 in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

Monaco by Tag Heuer

Monaco With a Gray or Blue Dial

Tag Heuer continues its relationship with racing through Formula 1 endorsements, Indy Racing League, the Indy 500 and Audi for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Plus there are probably more that I do not know about.

Another Swiss watch maker with a heritage of involvement in sports is Tissot. The Tissot Visodate model translates nostalgia into contemporary timepieces dedicated to detail. Tissot watches were used for downhill skiing in Switzerland in 1938 and the Davis Cup in 1957.

Below is a “Time of Trip” mounted on the dashboard of Steve McQueen’s former Siata 208-S. The Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500 were yesterday. Is this synchronicity or what?

Time of Trip on McQueen Siata

Time of Trip on Steve McQueen's Siata

TAG Heuer

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