Racing watches

TAG Heuer Carrera

Timekeeping is essential in top-level sport and in motorised sports, where everything happens at high speed, this factor is crucial. If today we associate equipment such as transponders, antennas and photocells with the measurement of lap times and speed, the wristwatch - the racing watch - has long been the answer to this requirement.

For drivers and their teams, or for aficionados who passionately follow motor racing in an environment where everything is measured in tenths, hundredths and thousandths of a second, these watches have always been working tools rather than mere fashion accessories.

Mechanical performance and high precision are common to motorsports and racing watches, with successive refinements since the 1950s, when precision timekeeping in Formula 1 was, to give you an idea, in the tenths of a second...

However, three features have remained unchanged on these watches: the chronograph function to measure times and distances, a tachymeter to measure speed, and a highcontrast dial to enable fast reading at high speed.

The dials were and are mostly white or black, with the counters - two or three - in reverse colour to the background. This gave rise to nicknames such as Panda, and others still used by connoisseurs to designate historical references that are today sought-after at auctions all over the world.

Of the haute horlogerie brands that have created iconic watches, few are as closely linked to motor racing as Heuer, then TAG Heuer. In the 1960s, Heuer developed racing watches much appreciated by drivers:

TAG Heuer Autavia

The AUTAVIA (AUTomotive + AVIAtion), launched in 1962, with rotating bezel in different versions: 60 minutes, 12 hours, GMT or diving with two types of scale.

TAG Heuer Carrera

The CARRERA, which appeared a year later and owes its name to the Carrera Panamericana, a race held in Mexico over six days and considered at the time the most dangerous in the world. It debuted with a 36mm diameter and a very simple dial, which favoured ease of reading over any other factor, and was for decades the brand's most successful model.

TAG Heuer Monaco

Finally, in 1969, the MONACO saw the light of day, evoking the Monaco Grand Prix, and became one of the brand's classics after being worn, in 1971, by the king of cool: Steve McQueen, in the film Le Mans.

TAG Heuer Formula 1

In 1986 TAG Heuer launched the Formula 1, reaffirming the brand's tradition and links to motor sport.

Although the watches in the 1st series were not racing watches - they were quartz coloured watches, 3 hands, in steel and fibreglass, with diving bezel - Formula 1 was the common ground between Heuer and TAG. The former had sponsored Ferrari and the latter had been a sponsor of Williams, before buying 50% of McLaren International at the end of the 1981 season. As well as having funded the development of the 1.5-litre Porsche turbo engine that would power the McLaren-TAG cars to consecutive world championships in 1984 and 1985.

Ayrton Senna, the mythical Formula 1 driver, was an ambassador for the brand, which launched a first tribute watch, the 6000 model, in 1994. Since then different limited editions have come out bearing his name.

And even if today you don't wear one of these watches to time lap times and speed, it will always be one of the most passionate pieces of haute horology, which carries in its heritage a mix of risk, speed and a touch of understated luxury.

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