TAG Heuer Watches - A Brief History of an Iconic Brand

TAG HeuerImage via Wikipedia

What is today TAG Heuer Watches was originally founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer and his two sons Jules-Edouard and Charles-Auguste. Although they only introduced their first 'wrist chronographs' in 1914, they already had a widely recognised reputation for the production of chronographs and sports timing equipment, such as stopwatches, split-second timers and timing systems.

TAG Heuer Carrera automatic chronograph with t...Image via Wikipedia

The foundations on which TAG Heuer has built its strength over the last hundred and forty or so years were in place very early on. Entrepreneurship, innovation and an obsession with ultimate precision are qualities that the three Heuer men introduced that have come to be synonymous with TAG Heuer still today. For this reason TAG Heuer watches are quite often at the forefront of watch-making technology, and have been since early on. For example, as far back as 1916 the oscillating pinion added to the Mikrograph made this model the World's first mechanical stopwatch that has proven to be accurate to one hundredth of a second.

Heuer watch-makers always offered an extensive range of chronographs and watches. In the 1930s they launched a range of chronographs for pilots. The triple calendar chronographs were introduced in the 1940s, and more rugged and robust watches in the 1950s, including dashboard timepieces that were very popular amongst many leading rally teams.

In 1969 Heuer broke with tradition and created the first square-cased, water-resistant watch: the Monaco. This watch is also widely accepted to be the World's first automatic chronograph. This claim has been contested, as a number of watch makers were working to produce an automatic watch around the same time. But, it was Heuer, Breitling and Hamilton-Buren that were the first manufacturers to produce and distribute automatic watches, the Monaco for Heuer, for markets around the world.

The Monaco is definitely one of their most iconic models. This particular model became an instant hit when in 1970 the Hollywood actor Steve McQueen wore a Monaco watch in the classic car racing film, Le Mans.

Heuer Autavia Chronograph, with Valjoux 92 mov...Image via Wikipedia
Like most of the prestigious Swiss Manufactures Heuer was hit by the quartz-boom and the cheaper 'Japanese watch invasion'. In 1984 the Heuer company was sold to the Akram Ojjeh TAG-Group and the brand name changed to TAG-Heuer. Heuer models were replaced with new ones, and TAG-Heuer changed from being from a manufacturer that specialised in chronographs, stopwatches and sporting events timing, to a luxury watch manufacturer with an emphasis on 'avante garde' design; hence the name 'Techniques d'Avante Garde'.
In 2009 TAG Heuer celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the iconic Monaco watch with a new watch. TAG Heuer have produced the first watch to be belt driven, and as a homage to the original Monaco timepiece they have named it the Monaco Linear System. This newer model draws on the company's longstanding traditions and retains many of the original Monaco features, such as the once groundbreaking square case. This new Monaco model demonstrates unequivocally that   TAG Heuer watches are still at the forefront of innovative and record breaking watch-making.

 By Thomas Dowson

About the author of this article:

Thomas Dowson is freelance writer, writing here about luxury watches for The Watch Gallery, their London-based shop can be visited online at http://www.thewatchgallery.co.uk

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