The TAG Heuer Formula 1 has a special place in the brand’s history, being the first watch released following the acquisition of Heuer by Techniques d’Avant Garde (“TAG”) in 1986. While Heuer had spent the late 1970s and early 1980s desperately trying to make money from mechanical watches that were designed for a very different competitive environment, the Formula 1 was a watch of its time. It was the first analogue Heuer/ TAG Heuer series to be quartz-only and to this day there has never been an automatic model.
The inspiration for the Formula 1 was the success of the Swatch watch, which had been launched at Basel in 1983. The quartz crisis of the 1970s had forced the Swiss to re-think how to engineer a watch to make money at a much lower selling price- the F1 was priced around 30-50% of the price of an Autavia.
While the F1 was not as cheap as the Swatch, it used the same ideological template: a synthetic case, bright colours, low-cost movements and simple sales packaging to try to tempt buyers back to Swiss watches. And like the Swatch, it was a huge sales success.