Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
TAG Heuer has a long-standing relationship with sports and this is no coincidence, a manufacturer of fine timepieces for over 150 years, the company has forged their history on chronograph innovation. Founded in Saint-Imier, Switzerland, by one Edouard Heuer in 1860. Son to a Swiss shoemaker, Edouard decided to embark on a conquest to create some of the world’s finest chronograph timepieces. Edouard from an early age was dazzled by the dream of not only creating timepieces that could record time but also imprisoning it in ever-more precise and advanced mechanical timepieces. From his apprenticeship at the age of just fourteen, Edouard was obsessed with innovation as he chased ever-greater accuracy. In 1882, as sports became more competitive, he introduced his first chronograph timepiece and just a few years later in 1887, he upgraded this timepiece to incorporate the famous Oscillating Pinion patented component, which was a true milestone in watchmaking history and is a mechanical component still used today by many major watch brands.
By the early nineteenth-century, mere fifths and tenths of a second were already common play but Heuer had by this time created a new balance wheel oscillating at a stunning speed of 360,000 vibrations per hour. Heuer had created a mechanical stopwatch – the Microsplit – that was capable of recording elapsed time to the nearest hundredth of a second. This was an important achievement in the era of modern sports and anybody who is an avid Formula 1 spectator knows just how important these hundredth are. Though this achievement was not only applicable to F1 but any sport where time needed to be mastered and beaten.
In 1966, Jack Heuer, would see great-grandson of the founder, make his mark with a miniaturized electronic Microtimer, which was accurate to 1/1000th of second. But 1969 would see (TAG) Heuer introduce the world’s first-ever automatic chronograph – the infamous calibre 11 – in the iconic Monaco, Carrera and Autavia lines all at the same time, contrary to the belief it was exclusive to the Monaco. So by now it is evident to see that when it came to pioneering chronographs, TAG Heuer was at the forefront but in the race to see who would create the worlds first self-winding chronograph is somewhat debatable.
The debate often arises as to whether it was actually Zenith or Seiko who first unveiled the self-winding chronograph before Heuer, however, there is no simple answer to this but does it really matter considering Heuer created arguably one of the most iconic self-winding chronographs ever! When the Monaco made its appearance on the wrist of one of the most iconic actors of that era – Steve McQueen – in the film Le Mans, it cemented its place as an iconic chronograph.
In 1985 (TAG) Heuer announced the acquisition by TAG, who are manufacturers of high-tech products for Formula One race cars. And in 1999 TAG Heuer accepted a bid from Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A (LVMH). These acquisitions by no means diminished their drive to conquer time. TAG Heuer today are still producing timepieces with ground-breaking technological advances, which I’m sure will continue long into the future as their motto says Avant-Garde since 1860.