TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz

Hands on Review: 2015 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Series

It’s time to forget everything that you thought you knew about the TAG Heuer Formula 1 series, because over the last 12 months the much-loved F1 has undergone its biggest changes in the model’s 28-year history. Yes, the watch is still entry-level in terms of pricing, but everything else has changed.

Remember how the Formula 1 used to be purely quartz? The new range (which we’ll call the 2015 TAG Heuer Formula 1 to distinguish it from the existing models) is now mainly automatic. And the iconic case shape that we’ve all become familiar with over the years? That’s also changed, with a totally new design, albeit one based on one of Heuer’s most famous watches.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 WAZ1111The Formula 1 has always been an important watch for the brand, being aimed at bringing a younger, sportier buyer into a TAG Heuer for the first time. Having a competitive entry-level range is more important than ever for TAG Heuer, so it makes sense to update the Formula 1, even though we saw a new Calibre 16 Chronograph model as recently as last year.

We had a chance to test drive several models from the new range a few weeks back in Switzerland to bring you this exclusive first look at the new F1.

Updating the Formula 1 Design

1986 TAG Heuer Formula 1The iconic Formula 1 shape has been the one constants of the series since its launch way back in 1986. Initially coated in Fibreglass (above), the materials evolved over the years to include all-steel cases, with Fibreglass eventually dropped in the early 1990s. If you are new to the Formula 1, you really should check out our Ultimate Guide to the TAG Heuer Formula 1 to learn all about the model’s history.

The new 2015 TAG Heuer Formula 1 range abandons the traditional case design for a shape base heavily on the second-generation Heuer Autavia from 1969, as you can see below.

Evolution of the TAG Heuer Formula 1Of course this is not the first time we have seen the Autavia revived- there was the TAG Heuer Autavia Re-edition from 2003- below. While the new F1 case is very similar to the 2003 Autavia, the finishing is very different. Note how the Autavia below has a beautiful starburst finish on the top of the case and polished elements? Cost considerations mean this isn’t possible for the Formula 1.

2003 TAG Heuer AutaviaSo what to make of the Autavia serving as the base for the new F1? Our view hasn’t changed since we previewed the new range at Baselworld back in March: it’s great to have the distinctive Autavia case back in the range, but we wish that it was used to relaunch the Autavia itself rather than to simply be absorbed into the Formula 1 DNA. I suspect that Heuer collectors will feel the same way, but the reality is, the majority of people will judge the new watch on its merits rather than worrying about the past.

Overview

CAZ2010 TAG HEUER FORMULA 1 CALIBRE 16 ChronographBefore we dive into the new range, lets address the obvious question: what happens to the existing Formula 1 range? After all, the Calibre 16 models (below) were only launched last year.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 ChronographFor now, the official word is that the two ranges will be sold alongside each-other..although we’d expect that to change in the medium-term as the new case design takes over.

TAG Heuer Calibre 6 Formula 1- Rubber Strap

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 Chronograph

2015 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 ChronographStarting at the top of  the new range is the Calibre 16 Chronograph, which offers a 44mm case in either stainless steel, or a steel case coated in titanium carbide.  The later model in particular looks really sharp and continues the Heuer/ TAG Heuer tradition of sporting models with a Black case and Red highlights.

CAZ2011 TAG HEUER FORMULA 1 CALIBRE 16 CHRONOGRAPHBoth models have some nice red detailing, including:

  • Tips of the hands on the 12 and 6 o’clock registers
  • Tip of the chronograph seconds hand
  • Four red Triangles at 12/3/6/9
  • Crown
  • Top chronograph pusher
  • “Tachymetre” on the bezel

The bezel on the Calibre 16 models is made from steel and is fixed- it doesn’t rotate despite looking like it might.

Live Photos

TAG Heuer Formula 1 CAZ2011 Calibre 16 Chronograph Titanium CarbideThe Rubber strap is a new design that looks the goods with its rallye-strap design, but doesn’t quite have the same quality finish as the rubber strap you’ll find on a Carrera- more on this later.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 CAZ2011 Calibre 16 Chronograph Titanium CarbideI really liked  this one on the wrist- it has huge presence and the sporty looks to justify the Formula 1 name. The “Daytona” rings provide a strong difference to the existing Calibre 16 Formula 1. While the two watches share a name and a similar price, they’re visually very different.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 CAZ2011 Calibre 16 Chronograph Titanium Carbide

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6 Watch

2015 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6 WatchThe partner watch to the Calibre 16 Chronograph is the Calibre 6 F1, which is available in 3 variants, each with a 41mm case.

WAZ2110 TAG HEUER FORMULA 1 CALIBRE 6One element that I would change on this model is the running seconds counter at the 6 o’clock register, a feature of all TAG Heuer watches with the Calibre 6 movement. I just find a central seconds hand easier to read on a 3-hand watch and it makes the dial nice and clean, providing a greater contrast to the Chronograph dial, which is usually quite busy.

Many of the Red highlights found on the Calibre 16 have disappeared, which suits the character of the watch.

Live Photos

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6While I’ve always liked the Formula 1 range, I can’t think of any F1 of the past that looks as complete and “grown up” as this one. You can see the edges of the bezel are polished, providing a nice contrast to the steel case on the bezel.

You may notice on the photo above that the end-piece of the bracelet doesn’t sit flush with the case, but this is because the watch available for photographing was a well-used prototype rather than the finished watch. Other examples I saw (including the black-dial watch below) had perfectly integrated end-pieces.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6- Black dial steelThe Formula 1 Calibre 6 has a unidirectional steel rotating bezel.

On the wrist- TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6Update- October 2014

While the Formula 1 Calibre 6 has made its way to stores, the watch will have a short life, having been replaced by the Calibre 5 model shown below.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 5

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 5There are three models in the Calibre 5 range, which replaces the Calibre 6 shown above. The only difference between the Calibre 5 and Calibre 6 range is that the new Calibre 5 has a central seconds hand, which replaces the small seconds register of the Calibre 6. Our view on the Calibre 6 was that we’d prefer a traditional seconds hand, but had no idea at the time of writing that our wish would be fulfilled so quickly.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Full Black Calibre 5 WAZ2115

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 7 GMT

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 7 GMT Probably my favourite of the new range is the Calibre 7 GMT, which features a Black and Blue colour-scheme that owes plenty to the steel Rolex GMT Master II. It looks great and uses a 42mm case, making it slightly larger than the other automatic watches.

The fixed-bezel is steel, with a coloured aluminium insert. The touches of blue- the tip of the central-seconds hand and the GMT hand are really well done, and the watch is a cool new addition to the range, with echos of the famous Heuer Autavia GMT.

WAZ211A TAG HEUER FORMULA 1 CALIBRE 7 GMT

 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz Watch

2015 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz WatchFor those who like quartz- and as we’ve pointed out before, sometimes with a sports watch quartz is the better choice- don’t fear that the Formula 1 has turned its back on battery-power. The new range features both a quartz watch and a chronograph.

The Quartz watch uses the same 41mm case as the Calibre 6 watch and features a dial that is very similar to the existing Formula 1 quartz, for example over-sized “12” and “6” markers and a coloured TAG Heuer logo.

The rotating bezel is titanium-carbide coated steel, as is the crown.

Live Photos

TAG Heuer Formula 1 WAZ1110It’s perhaps no surprise that the quartz watch is the closest in looks and feel to the existing Formula 1. While the hour and minute hands are the same shape as the automatic models, note the conventional seconds hand which loses the TAG Heuer logo at the base, a style reserved for the mechanical range.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 WAZ1110

TAG Heuer Formula 1 WAZ1111 Quartz White Dial

TAG Heuer Formula 1 WAZ1111 Quartz White Dial

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz Chronograph

2015 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz ChronographLast but not least we have one sole quartz chronograph offered in a 42mm steel case. Nothing illustrates the move from quartz to mechanical better than the fact that there is only one quartz chronograph offered. Again the design is close to the current quartz models, gaining a different pusher design to the Calibre 16 models. While the fixed bezel looks similar, this time it hosts a tachymetre scale.

Live Photos

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph- Quartz

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz Chronograph

The Value for Money Equation

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Automatic Series ChronographI mentioned earlier in the article that the rubber strap didn’t have the same quality feel as the one you might find on a Carrera or Aquaracer- which of course makes sense when you consider the price differential between the series.

There are a couple of places where you notice the quality differential- certainly on the strap (both the rubber strap and the bracelet) and small details like the finishing of the case. Go back to the photo of the 2003 Autavia and you see the wonderful star-burst finish on top of the case, with a polished side section and then a brushed finish on the bottom part of the case. All of this takes time, which of course means cost.

I spent last week reviewing another brand’s latest chronograph for Time+Tide, which came on a rubber strap. Despite that watch costing significantly more than the Formula 1 Calibre 16, the rubber straps were comparable. I was critical of the deployant used on the 2014 Formula 1 Calibre 16, and I do feel that the new range is better.

My sense is that the new Formula 1 is very good value for money. Yes, there are places where you won’t find the same finishing as a Carrera, but you also won’t find that it costs the same as a Carrera.

Prices and Availability

TAG Heuer Formula 1 WAZ1111 Quartz White Dial with Tesla RoadsterHaving started the discussion on value, let’s get to the point on prices. Below are the estimates on US pricing

  • Formula 1 Calibre 16 (CAZ2010) on bracelet: $2,900
  • Formula 1 Calibre 6 (WAZ2110) on bracelet: $1,800
  • Formula 1 Quartz Watch on bracelet: $1,300
  • Formula 1 Quartz Chronograph: $1,500
  • Formula 1 Calibre 7 GMT: $2,200

To put that pricing into perspective, the 2012 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz watch had a launch price of CHF1,200 (now we’re talking Swiss Francs). The 2015 equivalent will be CHF100 less, which is impressive when you consider the inflation in watch prices over the last few years.

Expect most of the range to be in stores in the next few weeks (in some markets, they’re already there), with the GMT following in November.

In Summary

CAZ2010 TAG HEUER FORMULA 1 CALIBRE 16 CHRONOGRAPH

In Summary

A big step-forward for the Formula 1, which is now more grown-up than ever, but retains its sporty feel thanks to its Autavia-inspired case.There is a broad range of options in terms of looks and movements, so we expect the range to be a big hit. The only thing missing is a high-end quartz (HEQ) model- if we’re doing quartz, then why not make it a premium offering.

We like:

  • Value for money
  • Calibre 7 GMT- Rolex GMT II look for less
  • Classic case design
  • Daytona rings on the Calibre 16

We’d change: 

  • The name- hey, it’s an Autavia!
  • Ditch the Calibre 6 for a Calibre 5 with traditional central seconds hand  We got our wish early!
  • Push the prices up a touch and spend a bit more on the straps and bracelets
  • TAG Heuer need to get into the NATO strap game quickly- younger market needs more than just rubber/ bracelet

***

 

 

  • Robertus

    The caliber 16 steel case looks really nice!

    A few remark:

    1. I see a paralel brushed pattern instead of the radial one. If the pattern is brushed in the flesh too and not sand-blasted than it is fine with me without the radial pattern too.

    2. I’d be happy to know the water-resistance – think it is around 100 m. (Maybe I just skipped in the article?)

    3. Two things are missing and are deal-brakers for me: one is the count-up turning bezel – like that of the cal. 6 version, the other the week-day feature at 3.

    4. I still cannot understand why TAG-Heuer is saving money on sparing the Glucydur balance on most of their cal. 16 based watches. Price difference is marginal while thermo stability difference is not. I just refer to the recent Uhren Magazin review comparing the Aquaracer to the IWC Aquatimer Chrono and the Breitling Chrono Superocean (all 7750-based). Even the higher-than-F1-priced Aquaracer Chrono does not have the Glucydur balance and the daily rate differences can be seen… Again, the weekday feature is on the other two watches while not on the Aquaracer!

    5. I wonder if the new F1 steel bracelet has a quick-micro-adjust clasp or not (possibly with double pushers), like that of the competing brands (some IWC, Breitling, Omega, Rolex bracelet clasps).

    So this F1 Chrono Cal. 16 watch could/should be a good value-for-money chrono with the turning bezel, day-date feature, Gucydur balance and the mentioned clasp.
    My two cents only.

    Regards,
    Robert

    • calibre11

      Thanks Robert. A few word in reply:
      – Yes, the finished is brushed steel on the majority of the case
      – You’re right to remind me on water resistance. It’s not a feature that I value highly, so I often leave it out…but I shouldn’t as I know it’s important to others. They are WR to 200m
      – I believe that Sellita do offer Glucydur balance (they certainly do on the SW200), but it wouldn’t make sense on the Formula 1 where every dollar counts. I think on the Formula 1 they have pushed very hard for sharp pricing and viewed this as a “nice to have” in this part of the market. For higher-spec models I agree with you
      – No micro-adjust on the bracelet.

      Your 2 cents are always welcome!

      dc

    • Jason

      The cost of the Glucydur balance may be marginal but not the labor and machine hours/costs.

  • DM.

    Very nice.
    It looks like they’re setting up the Formula 1 model as a parallel product to the Aquaracer models you looked at earlier.

    The gmt is pretty hot. I think maybe even better than the 500m.

  • DS

    Thanks for the article, I have been looking at a Tag for my first big watch purchase, and I think i have narrowed it down to either the Aquarace 300m Calibre 16 CAP2110 or the Formula 1 CAU2010. I think they are at a similar price point aswell as the same movement. Can you make any suggestions or point me in the right direction too look?

    • calibre11

      Hmm. Tough one. As you say, the movements are the same, so I would choose the one that you like the look of more..they’re quite different in terms of looks. I’d probably lean towards the Aquaracer

      • DS

        Very tough, I walked into the Tag store to buy the Aquaracer and then tried on the F1, now im torn between the two. I am going to the Brisbane store on Sunday to have a final look. I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for the help

        • DS

          So at the end of the day I went for the F1. Its a beautiful watch.

          • calibre11

            Looks sharp- nice choice

  • Ryan

    Nice to see significant improvements in Formula 1. The white dial quartz watch on your wrist seems to fit you well. I like the clean dial of it. Seeing updates on Formula 1, do you expect Tag Heuer to update its Link watches? I don’t think Link watches are selling as well as it used to do when it used to be more rugged. Any information?

    • calibre11

      Thanks Ryan- yes, the new case does fit well on the wrist…it’s quite flat.

      Not sure on the Link. We’ve had two new recent models (Link Calibre 18 and Link Calibre 7 GMT) and the watch itself was redesigned in late 2011. I think its the sort of watch that sells well in some markets and less well in others, unlike the Carrera which seems to be universally popular.

      dc

  • lhn

    Greetings. I am considering the Caliber 5 all black

    http://us.tagheuer.com/en/luxury-watches/tag-heuer-formula-1-calibre-6-automatic-watch-41-mmfull-black-edition-black-steel-bracelet

    versus the Aquaracer all black.

    http://www.tagheuer.com/int-en/luxury-watches/aquaracer/aquaracer-500-m-calibre-5automatic-watch41-mm-black-rubber-bracelet-wak2180-ft6027

    I am trying to figure out the technical differences between them as it appears from my reading that the Formula 1 will list at about 1800 US while the Aquaracer at 3400?

    At the moment I think I like the look of the Formula 1 better but of course would like to try them on. Thanks for any thoughts.

    • calibre11

      No real technical difference, it’s more in the finishing. Hand polishing cases is obviously manual and so adds to the cost of the watch. You’ll also notice that the quality of the bracelet/ straps on the Aquaracer is superior to the Formula 1, in keeping with the higher price.

      Good luck with the decision!

      dc

  • AHT

    Hi, just wondering what the lug width is on the 41mm Calibre 5 models? Thanks.

  • lhn

    Looks like the all black model of the F1 calibre 5 is titanium. Also there is a 4th model not pictured in the article which is black face and black rubber band but stainless steel (silver color) case. I wonder how much titanium will add to that price.

    • calibre11

      Hi lhn, no, the Full Black Calibre 5 is the same as the Full Black Calibre 6- a steel case with titanium-carbide coating.

      dc

  • Remy

    Hi,
    what about the Calibre 6 models ?
    On the TH-page I can only find the new Calibre 5 Version with central second, which are also nice.
    Above you wrote: “We got our wish early!”.
    Does this mean, that the Calibre 6 models are discontinued ?
    I´ve been to an official dealer here in Germany two weeks ago and they already got the Calibre 6, but no Calibre 5 models.
    Do you know anything further what happened to the Calibre 6 models ?

    • Shafa

      I recently bought a F1 calibre 6, without much knowing that they have already stop production and changed to calibre 5. Does this mean the calibre 6 will no longer be in demand?

      • calibre11

        Hi Shafa, I don’t think it will have any impact. In some cases, these rarer models are more highly sought- for example, the first versions of the Carrera 1887 were only sold for a few months before the design changed.

        dc

  • Remy

    Hi David,
    just at the moment I read the answer for my question. =)
    Obviusly I didn´t read the text on page 3 with full attention. 😉
    But I got to say that I am a bit disappointed about the decision to stop the Calibre 6.
    The Calibre 6 movement (ETA 2895-2) is more expensive than the SW200 in the Calibre 5 models, so that the quality/price ratio is getting a bit worse, compared to the Calibre 6.
    Just my 2 Cents.
    Greets from Germany

    • calibre11

      Hi Remy,

      Actually, the movement question is not that simple. TAG Heuer use (and have for some time) the Sellita and ETA variants interchangeably on some models.

      The Calibre 5 could be Sellita SW200 or ETA 2824-2- both are used for the Formula 1. But the Calibre 6 is the Sellita SW260-1.

      The Calibre 6 in the lady’s F1 range is either Sellita or ETA 2895-2.

      My view on Sellita vs. ETA hasn’t changed: for all purposes, the movements are exactly the same (quality, reliability, etc). Whenever I meet a watchmaker I ask them whether there is any difference…so far, not one has said that they view one or the other as being better.

      The best analogy I can give is the BMW 3 series. Here in Australia we now source our 3 series from South Africa, instead of Germany. Sure, both plants are owned by BMW unlike the Sellita/ ETA case, but it is possible to take the same parts and assemble the same quality and reliability from two “suppliers”. In any modern factory, I’d be shocked if it was high degrees of variability.

      dc

  • Amartya

    Hello: could you please tell me what movement is used in the 2015 formula 1 attests watches? Thanks – Amartya

    • Amartya

      Sorry, I meant quartz watches in my question above

      • calibre11

        The quartz movement in the 3-hand watch is RONDA 6003.

  • Enrique Seir

    I was at Macy;s today and I had a chance to see all these Formula watches and I have to say that TAG did a wonderful job with this one. I have had a F1 for 12 years and it has been my “go to” watch for all my everyday activities.. As I have gotten older, the watch seems a little youthful now. This new edition looks much more grown up and ready to serve a wider customer based including myself. It is cleaner, and it can be worn with jeans as well as a suit. I like it better than any of the Aquaracers TAG has been putting out.

    I will be replacing my old Formula Chrono with one of these. Nice Job!!!!!!!!!

  • GyAljen Sherpa

    what is the difference between CAZ1110.BA0877 and CAU1110BA085, beside the price

    • calibre11

      CAZ1110 is the new “Autavia-style” case, while CAU1110 uses the traditional Formula 1 case

      • GyAljen Sherpa

        Thank you for the response…I’m getting the CAZ1110…hope its a good one…

        • calibre11

          Just the style of the case. If you really want an answer, I’ll say that the new one is better….because it’s the new one!!

          • GyAljen Sherpa

            Yeap..got the new one…is there any site that i can learn about the chrongraph..how it works?? thank you again

  • Grimwadee

    I’m 16 and have just bought the Formula 1 Quartz 2015 and I was just wondering if they’re expensive to keep? For example, if I scratched it up a bit or water got into it, how much would services cost me? I currently have a Tag Heuer 2000 Series Chronograph 1998 which my dad bought for me last year and all servicing he’s paid for so I haven’t had to worry. I’m very careful with watches so I’m not worried about sending it off every month, just as a precaution.