The Classicist: Celebrating TAG Heuer's 150th Anniversary
Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer celebrates its 150th anniversary making horological history this year, marked by the publication of a brilliant new book by Nick Foulkes from Assouline. TAG Heuer begins in the middle years of the 19th century when a Swiss shoemaker's son called Edouard Heuer made the decision to "turn his life over to the conquest and calibration of the passing hours, minutes, seconds and fractions of seconds; marking their passage with the tiny incremental movements of the blued steel hand of a chronograph against the crisp white enamel dial of the pocket watch." From childhood Edouard was "dazzled by the dream of conquering time and imprisoning it in ever more precise and advanced mechanical timepieces," Foulkes writes. In 1882 Heuer introduced his first chronograph, setting a benchmark for extreme accuracy that continues today, and by the early 20th century he had moved the chronograph from the pocket onto the wrist.
TAG Heuer was the first watchmaker to master chronographs with an unsurpassed precision of 1/10th, 1/100th and 1/1,000th of a second. From the Olympic Games in the 1920s to its role as official timekeeper for the legendary Indy 500 and involvement in actor Steve McQueen's racing film Le Mans, to its quarter-century partnership with Formula 1 team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, it has a long established connection to the world of sports. However, Foulkes notes, the brand's identity has also "always been influenced by the biggest names in architecture, art, and avant garde design of each generation." Organized by year, each page of the book offers a stunning view of a TAG Heuer timepiece and its historic counterpart interspersed with vintage photographs of the founding and making of the famed brand.
Gallery: 150 Years of TAG Heuer
These days TAG Heuer is part of the LVMH luxury empire with celebrity spokesmodels like Leonardo DiCaprio and tennis champ Maria Sharapova, yet stays true to Edouard's legacy. A privileged member of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), the most exclusive club in the Swiss watchmaking industry, it's newest innovation is the Calibre 1887, a Swiss manufactured integrated column-wheel chronograph movement paying tribute to the original Heuer oscillating pinion of 1887, one of the brand's first patents and a major benchmark in modern watchmaking. Other new ventures include a collection of eyewear and the sponsorship of first-ever round-the-world trip in a 100% electric car designed specifically for TAG by Tesla Motors, which my colleague Ariel Adams wrote about earlier this month.