TAG Heuer: Avant-Garde Since 1860
Swiss watch manufacturer TAG Heuer is the chronograph specialist. They have been producing high-quality timepieces for over 150 years. The brand is synonymous with motorsport and made its film debut in the 1971 classic Le Mans starring Steve McQueen.
On the Racetrack with Steve McQueen and Other Drivers
In 2012, the Heuer Monaco that Steve McQueen wore in the 1971 film Le Mans sold at an auction put on by Profiles in History, an auction house that specializes in Hollywood memorabilia. This square chronograph reached a record sum of 799,500 USD, making it one of the most expensive Heuer watches of all time.
The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer maintains a strong connection to motorsport to this day and serves as the official timekeeper of various sporting events. While the brand's two top models, the Carrera and Autavia, cost far less than McQueen's watch, they are just as highly coveted. This is also true of TAG Heuer's most recent innovations: carbon watches made of the same high-tech material as Formula 1 race cars and smartwatches that resemble the Carrera, but house state-of-the-art technology. In fact, TAG Heuer was the first Swiss luxury watch brand to venture into the world of smartwatches.
How much do TAG Heuer watches cost?
|Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T||12,500 USD||Tourbillon|
|Monaco Calibre 11||4,400 USD||Square case|
|Autavia Calibre 02||3,900 USD||A 60s-inspired design, in-house movement|
|Carrera Calibre 1887||3,400 USD||In-house movement|
|Carrera Calibre 16||3,400 USD||Chronograph with the Valjoux 7750|
|Aquaracer Calibre 16||2,800 USD||Water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft)|
|Aquaracer Calibre 5||2,000 USD||Water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft)|
|Connected||1,700 USD||Luxury smartwatch|
The Heuer Carrera: Legendary Chronographs since 1963
The Carrera is one of TAG Heuer's most famous and successful collections. Jack Heuer, great-grandson of company founder Edouard Heuer, named this collection after the Mexican Carrera Panamericana rally. The first watches debuted in 1963 and were powered by the manual caliber Valjoux 72. Early timepieces with three subdials and the reference number 2447 sell for around 8,900 USD today.
Models with two subdials were also available in the 1960s. These chronographs bear the reference number 3647 and use the manual caliber Valjoux 92. If you're interested in this Carrera, be prepared to spend about 8,600 USD.
The 60s also saw Heuer team up with Breitling, Büren, and Dubois Dépraz to develop the modular caliber 11 with a micro-rotor. This mechanical movement sets itself apart by placing its crown on the left-hand side at 9 o'clock. There's also a date display at 6 and subdials at 3 and 9 o'clock. Prices for this early automatic Carrera sit around 5,300 USD.
Prices for Modern TAG Heuer Carreras
The original Carrera from 1963 is still one of TAG Heuer's most popular watches. Today's collection contains various chronographs, three-hand automatic watches with date displays, and top models that combine a chronograph function with a tourbillon. The in-house caliber Heuer 02T powers the most complicated models. It features a tourbillon at 6 o'clock that makes one full rotation per minute. Thanks to a skeletonized dial and sapphire glass case back, you can view this movement at work from both sides.
The 45-mm TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T comes in titanium or ceramic and is water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). Those with a rose gold bezel and lugs are especially elegant and cost anywhere from 19,500 to 27,000 USD. The titanium edition demands around 11,000 USD new, while a ceramic watch will set you back some 12,500 USD.
One of this Swiss watch manufacturer's top models is the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Nanograph . In addition to having an impressive tourbillon and chronograph function, this timepiece's state-of-the-art carbon composite hairspring is the first of its kind. Like silicon, this material is not only extremely light and completely antimagnetic, but it's also robust and able to withstand extreme temperatures. The movement's aluminum balance wheel is also fascinating: It features white gold inserts, and part of its rim is coated with SuperLuminova. Introduced in 2019, this Carrera has an official list price of 25,500 USD.
The Carrera Calibre 16 is one of the collection's most classic models. It gets its power from the time-tested Valjoux 7750, the most widely used chronograph caliber. The movement provides this timepiece with a 42-hour power reserve, a small seconds dial at 9, a 12-hour counter at 6, and a 30-minute counter at 12 o'clock. The Carrera Calibre 16 is available in a number of designs, from sporty and modern watches to elegant timepieces on an alligator leather strap. If you're interested in this chronograph, plan to spend between 2,000 and 3,400 USD depending on the condition.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 is this collection's entry-level model. This automatic three-hand watch comes with a date or day-date display. It comes with a 39 or 41-mm case made of stainless steel or a combination of stainless steel and rose gold. You can purchase the Calibre 5 for about 2,000 USD new and 1,600 USD pre-owned.
How much do Carreras with an in-house caliber cost?
TAG Heuer has been outfitting certain Carrera models with in-house calibers since 2010. Their very first in-house movement, the Calibre 1887, is actually based on the design of the Seiko 6S78. The more recent Calibre Heuer 01 is very similar and appears in their sporty modern chronographs. A skeletonized dial lends these timepieces a particularly futuristic look. The Carrera Calibre 1887, on the other hand, has a more classically elegant design. Both watches sell for anywhere from 2,900 pre-owned to 3,400 USD new.
The Carrera Calibre Heuer 02 also features an in-house chronograph caliber. Its movement boasts an impressive 80-hour power reserve and displays the date between 4 and 5 o'clock. Unlike the calibers 16, 1887, and 01, the Calibre 02 has its 12-hour counter at 9, 30-minute counter at 3, and small seconds dial at 6 o'clock. The stainless steel model has a list price of 6,350 USD. The version with an additional GMT function costs about 110 USD more and can be purchased in mint condition on Chrono24 for as little as 4,500 USD.
The TAG Heuer Monaco: A Square-Shaped Icon
The TAG Heuer Monaco enjoys a cult following thanks to its iconic design. It first rose to world fame after it appeared on Steve McQueen's wrist in the film Le Mans. Current models with a blue, white, and red dial look so similar to the original that you'd be forgiven for mistaking the two.
The Calibre 11 features a crown on its left-hand side. Each movement is based either on the Sellita SW300 or the ETA 2892 and has an extra chronograph module. This modular construction dates back to the original Monaco watches from the 1970s. The Monaco Calibre 11 tends to retain its value, with new pieces costing around 4,400 USD and pre-owned watches selling for roughly 4,300 USD.
If you prefer watches with a crown on the right side, you should take a closer look at the Monaco Calibre 12. Its movement is also based on the Sellita SW300 or ETA 2892. Mint-condition pieces change hands for about 6,300 USD, while used watches cost around 3,700 USD.
Vintage watches from the Monaco's early days demand much higher prices. The reference 1133B with a blue, white, and red dial often sells for more than 16,500 USD. On the other hand, the version with a gray dial and the reference number 1133G requires an investment of "only" 9,900 USD.
One of the Monaco collection's highlights is the Bamford Limited Edition. Only 500 copies exist of this fantastic timepiece. TAG Heuer collaborated with Bamford Watch Department to develop this carbon watch. Its black dial features a light blue minute scale and matching hands. A standard Calibre 11 ticks away inside its high-tech case. Plan to spend over 12,500 USD on a mint-condition timepiece.
The TAG Heuer Connected: A Luxury Smartwatch
The Connected was the first smartwatch ever made by a Swiss luxury watch company. Its design resembles that of the Carrera, and its different virtual dials – known as watch faces – take their cues from various historic models. Unlike its predecessor, the Connected lacks a mechanical movement. Instead, it uses an Intel processor and the Android Wear operating system. You can even pair it with your iOS or Android device and download thousands of apps. For example, you can use the Connected to navigate, pay for items via Google Pay, listen to music, translate phrases, or track your exercise.
The TAG Heuer Connected has a 41 or 45-mm case and is largely made of lightweight titanium. However, there are also models with rose gold-plated or ceramic bezels and lugs. Watches with diamond-studded bezels and lugs are particularly luxurious and are geared mainly toward women. When it comes to the band, you can choose from a leather or rubber strap or a ceramic or titanium bracelet.
A 45-mm titanium Connected with a black ceramic bezel costs roughly 1,700 USD new and 1,400 USD pre-owned. Those with a ceramic bezel and bracelet demand between 2,300 and 3,100 USD. The gold-plated edition is the most expensive: It sells for around 3,900 USD new. However, you can find used watches for about 3,100 USD. If you prefer the version with a 41-mm case in solid titanium, expect to pay almost 1,500 USD for a never-worn timepiece and 1,100 USD for a pre-owned example.
Water-Resistant to 300 m: The TAG Heuer Aquaracer
TAG Heuer doesn't limit themselves to the racetrack, as demonstrated by the Aquaracer. As its name implies, this collection contains wristwatches for water sports enthusiasts and divers. Creating water-resistant watches is far from uncharted territory for TAG Heuer. In fact, they've been producing such timepieces since the late 19th century.
The Aquaracer's design includes everything you'd expect from a diving watch: There's a rotatable bezel with a 60-minute scale and luminous hands and indices. You'll find both classic three-hand watches as well as chronograph models. The latter is powered by either the proven Valjoux 7750 or a highly precise quartz caliber. These quartz chronographs are 43 mm in diameter and water resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), making them the ideal diving companion. You can purchase one of these timepieces on a stainless steel link bracelet for around 1,600 USD in mint condition and 1,500 USD pre-owned. On the other hand, an automatic chronograph on a stainless steel bracelet sells for between 2,200 and 2,900 USD.
The three-hand Aquaracer with a date display is also available with an automatic or quartz caliber. Quartz models cost a few hundred dollars less than their mechanical counterparts. An automatic Aquaracer with a 43-mm case and a ceramic bezel demands about 2,000 USD new. You can save around 340 USD by purchasing a pre-owned timepiece. Prices for the version with a stainless steel bezel range from 1,100 USD pre-owned to 1,700 USD new.
In 2009, TAG Heuer teamed up with actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio to create a limited edition Aquaracer. Part of the proceeds from every watch purchase was donated to environmental protection organizations. At its release, it had an official list price of around 2,600 USD. Today, well-maintained timepieces change hands for about 1,700 USD.
How much does the TAG Heuer Autavia cost?
The Autavia completes the trilogy of legendary TAG Heuer chronographs. Its name is a portmanteau of the words "automobile" and "aviation." It originally debuted in 1933 as a dashboard clock for race cars and aircraft. Heuer would later transform it into a wristwatch, which they then released in 1962. Vintage Autavias from the 60s are extremely highly coveted today and can demand prices over 28,000 USD. However, depending on the watch's condition, some models sell for as little as 11,000 USD.
Vintage Autavias from the 1970s and 80s are much more affordable. Their prices begin around 4,500 USD. That being said, some watches cost upward of 11,000 USD. Heuer first equipped the Autavia with the automatic chronograph caliber 11 in 1969. You can recognize this movement by the position of its crown at 9 o'clock. These timepieces have oval cases, thus setting themselves apart from the manually-wound watches from the 1960s.
In 2017, TAG Heuer reintroduced the Autavia with an in-house caliber. Its design bears strong resemblance to chronographs from the 1960s. A bidirectional bezel with a 12-hour scale, a reverse panda dial, and a 42-mm case define this retro timepiece. The three white subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock serve as a 30-minute counter, small seconds dial, and 12-hour counter, respectively. The date display sits within the small seconds dial at 6. What's more, the automatic caliber Heuer 02 provides this watch with a 80-hour power reserve, stop-seconds mechanism, and quick-set date. You can purchase the version on a leather strap for about 3,900 USD in mint condition. The edition on a stainless steel bracelet costs about 110 USD more.
TAG Heuer released a special edition Autavia in celebration of Jack Heuer's 85th birthday in 2017. Since Heuer was born in 1932, this timepiece is limited to a run of 1,932 pieces. Features include a silver dial with black subdials, a bidirectional bezel with a 60-minute scale, and a polished case back with an engraving of Jack Heuer's signature below the Heuer family crest. If you're interested in this limited edition, be sure to have between 4,300 and 5,000 USD on hand.
Expert Timekeepers with Many Famous Fans
TAG Heuer has always fostered a close relationship with motorsport. From the development of their first stopwatch in 1882, to watches meant for travel and ultra-modern chronographs, this Swiss company is the chronograph specialist.
This wasn't lost on Steve McQueen, who wore a square Heuer Monaco in 1971's Le Mans. After making its debut on the silver screen, this watch with a dark blue dial quickly transformed into a cult icon. However, Heuer's widespread popularity wasn't limited to the Monaco. Racing legends like Aryton Senna and Bruce McLaren relied on the precise timekeeping of their Carreras. Even former president Barack Obama wore a TAG Heuer during his time as a senator, specifically a model from the 1500 series with similar features to the current Aquaracer collection.
The manufacturer from the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds enjoys a reputation for fine watchmaking to this day. They've never shied away from innovation either, releasing the first smartwatch from a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer – the Connected – in 2015.
The Story of TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer's story began in 1860, when 20-year-old Edouard Heuer founded his then-tiny business in the Swiss town of Saint-Imier. Four years later, Heuer was so successful that he moved his company to an impressive building in Biel. In 1882, Heuer patented his first stopwatch and production began that same year. He developed the so-called oscillating pinion, a revolution in chronograph production, five years later. The mechanism is comprised of a movable stem and two pinions, with one pinion constantly engaged with the second wheel.
In 1902, Charles and Jules Heuer took over the family business. Under their leadership, the company focused on producing specialty watches, such as the dashboard chronograph Time of Trip in 1911. This chronograph measured in at 11 cm in diameter and was perfectly suited for installation on car and airplane dashboards. The large central hand told the time while the small pair of hands at 12 o'clock timed periods up to 12 hours.
Heuer achieved another milestone in 1916 with the Mikrograph, a chronograph able to measure time in increments of 1/100th of a second . The delicate second hand only required three seconds to make a full revolution, and its balance wheel vibrated at an unbelievable frequency of 360,000 alternations per hour (A/h), or 50 Hz. This "super timer," as Heuer called it, was perfect for measuring the flight time of artillery projectiles.
In the early 1930s, Heuer introduced the Time of Trip's successor, the Autavia, a dashboard clock for cars and aircraft. It has a central second hand and two subdials for the 60-minute and 12-hour counters. The stopwatch was often paired with its counterpart, the Hervue dashboard, on a solid base plate. The Hervue had a power reserve of eight days and a movement from Revue Thommen. In 1962, exactly 30 years after the Autavia premiered, Heuer debuted a wristwatch chronograph under the same name.
TAG Heuer Milestones
- 1860: Edouard Heuer founds the business
- 1882: Introduction of their first stopwatch
- 1887: Heuer invents the oscillating pinion
- 1911: Dashboard chronograph "Time of Trip" patented
- 1916: Stopwatch Mikrograph runs at 360,000 A/h
- 1962: Wristwatch Autavia released
Mergers and a Change in Ownership
In January 1964, the family business Ed. Heuer & Co. S.A. merged with Leonidas Watch Factory Ltd. However, the Heuer family continued to run the show. During the quartz crisis, the production of mechanical watches was almost completely discontinued. This resulted in the company adding quartz watches, such as the Chronosplit, to their portfolio.
In 1982, then-head of the company, Jack Heuer, was forced to sell his shares in the company. The watch manufacturer Piaget then took charge from 1982 to 1985. In 1985, Techniques d'Avant Garde (TAG) entered and took the reins. In 1988, the company was renamed TAG Heuer S.A., and in 1996, they went public. The French luxury concern LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE) has owned the company since 1999. Zenith and Hublot are also owned by LVMH.
A Record Breaker on Your Wrist
TAG Heuer set a record with the Carrera Calibre 360 in 2006. This timepiece pays tribute to the Mikrograph pocket watch from 1916. The Carrera Calibre 360 has two movements: one for the time display and another for the chronograph. Like the Mikrograph, the chronograph module with a flyback function and 30-minute counter ticks at a staggering 360,000 A/h. This was the highest rate ever achieved by a wristwatch until 2012. The main movement for the time display is the chronometer-certified ETA 2892.
The company outdid themselves only six years later. The Mikrotimer Flying 1000, a prototype, can measure times to within a thousandth of a second. By comparison, the Carrera Calibre 360 is "only" accurate to within a hundredth of a second. The Mikrotimer's automatic caliber features two separate gear systems, each with their own escapement and oscillation system. The average time display ticks at 28,800 A/h (4 Hz). However, this chronograph system ticks at a jaw-dropping 500 Hz, or the equivalent of 3.6 million A/h. Only the Carrera Mikrogirder, also from TAG Heuer, offers more accuracy: It can measure in increments of 5/10,000ths of a second.