First Look: New TAG Heuer Formula 1

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   15 January 2012   |   59 Comments  

TAG Heuer has taken the wraps off the new Formula 1 Series ahead of its Pre-Basel launch event in Geneva. While the existing series ballooned into a dizzying array of models, the new series keeps things focused with three flavours- a Watch, a Chronograph and a Watch with an alarm function. Giving the series variety is the array of materials- including stainless steel, aluminium, ceramic and titanium-carbide- employed to give the different models their own look and feel.

Since its introduction back in 1986, the The Formula 1 has been TAG Heuer’s entry-level sports watch- always quartz and with a more colourful and adventurous approach to design than the rest of the TAG Heuer range. The challenge for the new series is to build on this heritage in the context of TAG Heuer’s continued push to build its reputation as the one of the most innovative manufacturers of high-end mechanical movements. The most expensive TAG Heuer watch today costs 65-times as much as the cheapest…a huge spectrum of the market to cover.

But the Formula 1 is an important series, as it’s often the “gateway drug” to the world of TAG Heuer as well as a model that reinforces the brand’s link to Formula 1 racing.

Design

Think of the new F1 Series as being a “Left-brain” design: logical, reasoned and rational. The design philosophy behind the 2012 F1 series is consistent with the re-design of the 2011 Link and Carrera 1887: a more mature, elegant design with no gimmicks. No polyurethane bumpers, no branding on the side of the case and no over-styled dials.

The case itself stays true to the basic shape of the original and settles on a 42mm size for all models. The dials move away from the printed finish of the current models to applied hour markers and a large “12″ just above the TAG Heuer logo. Complementing the revised dial is a new-look for the hands, which settle for a classic polished-sword design across the range.

The other change immediately apparent is the focus on improving the quality of finishing on the watch. While the first F1 series made do with a Fibreglass-coated case and basic mineral glass, the quality of materials has improved with each new series. The biggest change here is the brushed stainless steel finish on both the case and the bracelet, with detailed polished finishes, such as the outer-edge of the fixed-bezel and the crown.

There are two types of bezel offered across the range- a fixed bezel for the Chronograph and Alarm (either stainless steel, titanium-carbide coated steel or stainless steel with aluminium/ ceramic insert- the last two options Chronograph only) and a turning bezel for the Watch (stainless steel or titanium-carbide coated steel). The models with a titanium-carbide coated bezel have a matching black crown, while the stainless steel models have a polished stainless steel crowns.

All models are water resistant to 200m.

Formula 1 Watch

Perhaps surprising for a watch that is synonymous with colour, the Formula 1 Watch is available in only two dial colours- white or black. The design of the new model is a big step-forward from the existing Watch selection, which comes in a variety of styles (see below).

The new Watch has a similar lay-out to the existing Grande Date model (above centre)- running seconds being recorded on a circular register at the 6 o’clock position that also houses the Grande Date function. It’s perhaps the only part of the design that doesn’t work in my view- I prefer a simple 3-hand watch with a running seconds hand mounted on a centre stem.

Stainless Steel Bezel

The stainless steel bezel Watch is available in either White (WAU1113) or Black (WAU1112) and only on a stainless steel bracelet. The bezel has minute markings at 5-minute intervals.

Both dial colours have a black date wheel with white numbers, making the date a little hard to read on the black-dial watch above.

Titanium-Carbide Bezel

The models closest to the original 1986 F1 series are the black-bezel versions, which are available in White (WAU1111), Black (WAU1110) or Black with Red detailing (WAU1114). At this stage, only WAU110 is available on a rubber strap.

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