2009: The TAG Heuer and Heuer Year in Review
Calling this a review of 2009 is a little indulgent given that the first Calibre 11 post only appeared in July, but nonetheless five hard months of blogging feels like time to take a look back over the year that was for TAG Heuer and Heuer collectors and put forward some thoughts on what we might see in 2010.
Five Most Popular Posts
1. Calibre 1887 Controversy: By some margin this was the most read story on Calibre 11- partly because the story was picked up here a few days before elsewhere, but in main because of the presence of TAG Heuer’s CEO who posted his response here and on a few other web-sites. Has a watch movement ever been so heavily scrutinised as the Calibre 1887? Experts poured over every detail trying to work out how much was from Seiko and how much from TAG Heuer. Now that all the facts are out, all that remains is for TAG Heuer to show us a watch with the movement. Perhaps a side-story to this was the (admittedly self-interested) view from blog editors that the issue demonstrated the ability of on-line websites, forums and blogs to drive and shape public opinion.
2. Patrizzi Auction- Live Updates: Calibre 11 provided live updates from the auction floor of Milan as the lots went under the hammer. The general view seemed to be that the collection itself was a little disappointing in quality (certainly not in number), but that prices were quite fair. Omegamania? Not even close. There’s talk of a major vintage Heuer auction next year with the full backing of TAG Heuer- fingers crossed.
3. Heuer/ TAG Heuer Super Professional: A bit of a surprise that this proved so popular- no reflection on the watch, but I was surprised to get so many hits for this one. This was one of a series of posts on the Heuer/ TAG Heuer diver series, all of which proved popular. TAG Heuer released a new Aquaracer 500m this year, but maybe its time for a flagship Diver watch.
4. TAG Heuer Silverstone launch: Actually, there were four posts during the year on Calibre 11 about the Silverstone, and if combined would have made this the year’s second most popular post. I’m proud to say that Calibre 11 was the first website to break the news that the Silverstone re-edition was coming and the first to provide details of just how close the up-coming model would be to the vintage Heuer Silverstone of the 1970s
5. Ayrton Senna TAG Heuer series: Perhaps popular as there is no other page on the web where you can see information about all of these watches in one place. Heuer’s reputation in the 1970s was greatly enhanced by the association with the great F1 drivers, and Senna certainly carried the torch into the 1980s. Its a little surprising that TAG Heuer seem to have given up their association with the Senna Foundation, allowing other such as Hublot to issue Senna Watches. The legend of Senna will only grow in years to come- and unlike other TAG Heuer Ambassadors, he was actually involved in the design of some of the watches. I’d love to see another TAG Heuer Senna.
Favourite Vintage Heuer- Heuer Silverstone 110.313B
One of the magic aspects of Heuer’s 1970s catalogue of watches was its diversity, which is probably why my favourite vintage Heuer changes from month-to-month. Even so, the watch that I go to most often when I’m running out the door is my blue Heuer Silverstone- and this was before it was announced that there was a re-edition coming. Sometimes the Monaco is too big, too square and too blue to wear with a suit- but the Silverstone is more subdued and a lovely clean design. I’d love to add a nice Red Silverstone in 2010
Favourite TAG Heuer- TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Calibre 36 RS2 Caliper Ti2
Attractive Girl: “That’s a nice watch- what is it?”. Man: “Thanks- its a TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Calibre 36 RS2 Caliper Ti2”. Attractive Girl: “You strange man..how and why do you remember all that? Please go away”.
Forget the ridiculously long and complicated name that this watch has been saddled with- this is the top of the TAG Heuer tree and is an absolute masterpiece in overall design. Yes, there are some details that I’d change (again, I’d make the dial a little simpler), but I can’t think of a more distinctive and high-tech watch than this one from any maker. The build quality of these is a level above most TAG Heuer watches. Expensive? yes, but if I was going to spend serious money on a TAG Heuer, it would be this one.
Least Favourite TAG Heuer
How many “Limited Edition” Monaco’s with stripes can TAG Heuer release? The original White (with red and blue stripes) was bold and innovative- the black faced model that followed less so…- but now a dark grey face with basically the same colour combination as the previous years model? Time to reel in the TAG Heuer Monaco line of watches before the icon is tainted.
Worst Calibre 11 Post
Next Year’s TAG Heuer? was a story posted in August when I was looking through some patent applications and found a few from TAG Heuer, including one that had just been filed a few week previously. What new secret TAG Heuer could this be, I wondered? Could we have stumbled on next years Basel surprise?
It took about a day for a reader (thanks Armando) to point out that this watch was the TAG Heuer F1 Grande Date Chronograph…and it had been in the shops for some time.
Oh well, I blame TAG Heuer’s website for not being updated as regularly as it should be…I did look…honest.
Unspoken Secrets: Vintage Heuer Values
2009 will go down as a tough, tough year- a year when many with a large watch collection suddenly felt a bit foolish having so much money sunk into old watches that are less accurate than a $20 quartz. Of course, that is not the full Vintage story and doesn’t allow for the pleasure of collecting and owning something that can’t just be bought from a store. The truth is this: watch prices fell hard in 2009, with a lot of discounting. Vintage watch values also fell…and vintage Heuer? Certainly fell, but maybe not as much as others. The scale of this drop was in some ways hidden by the fall in the US Dollar relative to the Euro, but depending on the model prices fell between 10-20% in 2009. So is the vintage Heuer party over?
I don’t believe so. I am confident that even in the short-medium term, the value of vintage Heuers will continue to rise, due to increased awareness of the watches and due to TAG Heuer’s continued revival as a “proper” watchmaker with landmark watches. But this upwards trend won’t mean a linear appreciation and that there won’t be a few bumps along the way.
Cancel the Marketing Team Lunch…
Fair to say that not too many at TAG Heuer will look back on December 2009 with fond memories. Just as people’s minds starting turning to Christmas and mulled wine came both the Calibre 1887 controversy and the Tiger Woods scandal. The Calibre 1887 issue seems to have now been dealt with, and Tiger Woods is probably more of a concern to the general public rather than the watch collector. One ray of light in December was the signing of F1 World Champion Jenson Button to the Mclaren team, which presumably means he will join the TAG Heuer stable. Heikki Kovalainen was a nice guy, but nowhere near as marketable as Jenson.
Services to Archiving:
The Heuer Carrera was one of the staples of the Heuer catalogue throughout the 1970s. Quite a few variations were produced- how many? Maybe you can think of a dozen- maybe a few more. Take a look here. Amazing work from the OnTheDash team led by Jeff and Mark.
Jeff Stein was the one who suggested Twitter to me earlier this year- and its fair to say that I was very skeptical about the use of a technology that as far as I could tell was reserved for actors to tell their fans what they were having for lunch.
But I have to say that since I joined up in August (Follow Calibre 11) I’ve found it a wonderfully useful medium- and not just for alerting people to new posts. There is a great community of new and vintage watch enthusiasts on Twitter and I’ve discovered several fantastic watch blogs, such as Monochrome, Hodinkee, The Prodigal Guide and the Amateur Economist. There are a few dedicated TAG Heuer/ Heuer twitterers (OnTheDash, Heuermonaco.co.uk and of course the official TAG Heuer Twitter- TAGHeueronline) and a lot more people out there who just love interesting watches- no matter what the brand.
Vintage Lesson of the Year
Bracelets can be extremely hard to find for vintage Heuer’s- and when you do find them, they can be expensive- sometimes 40-60% of the value of some of the watch. Expensive- but at least they are available from sellers such as Bill Mahoney (a.k.a Squinky) who has a fantastic range of vintage NSA bracelets. However what is rarely available are those little end pieces that cover the spring bar. Without the end pieces? Depending on the model, it just won’t look right. Hang on to your end-pieces as they’re very, very hard to find.
Wishes for 2010
Its hard not to be greedy when a major anniversary like a 150th comes along- TAG Heuer have already given us a Silverstone re-edition- but how about the following:
- Carrera powered by the new Calibre 1887
- Top-range Divers watch-perhaps as a concept watch (enough with the Carrera and Monaco concepts)
- A production version of the Monaco 24 Concept
- A “McQueen” Monaco with the traditional colours in the case of the Monaco LS
- A new watch powered by the V4 movement- perhaps a Grand Carrera?
- A surprise vintage watch- doesn’t have to be a re-edition, but something in the vintage style
What to Expect from Calibre 11 in 2010
Writing this blog has been more enjoyable and rewarding than I anticipated- so expect more (rather than just more of the same) in 2010. There are several grand ideas in the works, which if they come off would really take things forward and grow the website. Any suggestions or ideas about what I should be doing are welcome.
For example, should Calibre 11 be kept free of ads.. are they too distracting? Should I be looking to offer a a range of Heuer and second hand TAG Heuer watches for sale, rather than just highlighting one watch for sale each week? Should the site continue as a stand-alone site, or would it make sense to combine with other specialist watch blogs or forums? Are Twitter and a blog enough? Do you use Facebook to follow watch news? All ideas welcome.
Thanks for reading in 2009 and Hope that I can give you enough good reasons to stop by regularly in 2010.