Gerhard Berger and TAG Heuer

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   9 December 2012   |   6 Comments  

Gerhard Berger is one of the more engaging Formula 1 personalities of the last 30 years. A very fast and capable driver in his own right, Berger always seemed to have the right balance between being 100% focused while in the car and being 100% focused on enjoying life when he was out of the car.

After his driving career finished, he moved on to a senior role with BMW Motorsport (having driven Touring Cars for BMW back in the ’80s while already an F1 driver) and at one time owning 50% of Toro Rosso. While he is not involved in Formula 1 at the moment, you feel that it’s only a matter of time before he finds his way back.

Berger spent three seasons at McLaren (1990, 1991 and 1992), out-qualifying Senna eight times, including in his first race for the team. Like many McLaren drivers, Gerhard wore a TAG Heuer watch during his years at McLaren and, as we’ll see, continued his association with TAG Heuer even after he left McLaren at the end of 1992.

Formula 1 Career

Berger began his Formula 1 career in 1984, joining the small ATS team. His performances were enough to attract the attention of Arrows, and after a year there he moved to the Benetton-BMW team for the 1986 season where he won his first race (Mexico). Berger had close ties with BMW (winning the 1985 Spa 24 Hours Touring Car race in a BMW 635CSI) and each of his first three teams were powered by BMW engines.

His performances at Benetton caught the eye of the Scuderia, and Berger joined Ferrari for the 1987 season. In 1990 he swapped positions with Alain Prost and moved to the dominant McLaren-Honda team where he partnered Ayrton Senna.

After McLaren, Berger’s career was the mirror-image of  his early career- he went back to Ferrari and then back to Benetton.

After retiring in 1997, Berger took a few years out of the sport before returning as the Sporting Director for BMW Motorsport, partner of the Williams team.

Berger and TAG Heuer

During Berger’s years at McLaren, the team’s race cars and driver suits both carried TAG Heuer logos- not surprising considering that team boss Ron Dennis was a shareholder in TAG Heuer.

We know that Ayrton Senna wore a TAG Heuer as his daily watch- so what about Gerhard Berger? Well, a little detective-work is required.

The photo above shows what is almost certainly a TAG Heuer S/el on a leather strap- the gold/ stainless steel combo, metal bracelet link between the case and the strap and the shapely case being the clues. And thanks to the clearly visible pushers, we can conclude that this is an S/ el Chronograph- just like Senna wore.

And the most appropriate S/el Chronograph for an F1 driver? The 1/ 100th second quartz S/el Chronograph, Berger’s looking like it has the charcoal dial, shown below. The watch came on either a bracelet, or the tan leather strap chosen by Senna and Berger.

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