TAG Heuer’s Formula 1 range has added a pair of blue-dial models for 2016, which gives us a good excuse to revisit the Formula 1 series. The F1 series kicked off way back in 1986, with the most significant change in the model’s history coming in 2015 when TAG Heuer introduced a new case based on the 1970s Autavia. Now, if you are new to TAG Heuer and you don’t know the history of the Formula 1, don’t worry- we’ve got you covered with our Ultimate Guide to the TAG Heuer Formula 1.
Both new watches share a brilliant star-burst Blue dial with Orange highlights, and that in itself is news. Something strange happened to the Formula 1 in the early 2010s: as the watch was pushed up-market by TAG Heuer, all the colours seemed to drain away, leaving behind a subdued monochrome palette- at one stage, the only dial options were Black, White or Anthracite.
But that’s not what the Formula 1 series is about. It’s a watch with colour at its heart, so we’re delighted to see the return of a bright, colourful Blue on both the dial and the bezel.
While you can buy a Formula 1 with an automatic movement, that’s not really what the series is about. The beauty of the Formula 1 is that it combines sporty, colourful styling with durable quartz movements at a very reasonable price. And indeed the newest Formula 1 is about the same price as it was back in 2010, so there is plenty of value to be had with the new range.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph Blue Dial- CAZ1014
Kicking off the range is the Chronograph model, reference CAZ1014- a design similar to the Red Bull Edition we reviewed a few months back. That watch has a matte Blue dial and Red and White contrasting colours, but otherwise the two watches are very similar.
The Chronograph has a 43mm stainless steel case, which has a combination of brushed and polished finishes- the main polished surfaces being the case sides, the crown and pushers.
The dial offers hand-applied steel indices with an over-sized “12” numeral at due north. A small inner bezel sits at the outer-edge of the dial and features a minute scale, with the 5-minute intervals marked in Orange. Each of the three registers has a circular azurage pattern with a steel frame, which helps give the dial definition.
While many watches in the TAG Heuer range now offer a ceramic bezel, the fixed blue bezel on the new F1 is aluminium with a racing-style tachymeter scale. Another feature to note is the coloured TAG Heuer shield, in contrast to the more usual all-white logo. Historically, quartz TAG Heuers use the colour logo while automatic models stick to the white logo. There have been a few exceptions to this rule over the years, but most of the time the rule still holds true.
Like the rest of the Formula 1 Quartz range, the watch is water-resistant to 200m.
From Every Angle
There are two ways of tethering the F1 Chronograph to your wrist- either the brushed steel bracelet you see here, or a “technical nylon strap”, which is similar to a NATO strap- there is no rubber or leather strap option. And that suits us just fine- given the price of the bracelet by itself, we’d probably order this model on the bracelet but also buy the technical strap separately to have the choice of swapping it over during the summer months.
The Chronograph gets its own strap- a blue base strap with central Orange stripe and two small white stripes.
Caseback and Movement
The Chronograph uses the standard steel Formula 1 case back, which features the chequered flag pattern. Sitting behind the caseback is the Ronda 5040D quartz movement. The Chronograph offers the following functionality:
- 3 o’clock register- running seconds (time)
- 6 o’clock register- 1/ 10th second and hour (chronograph)
- 9 o’clock register- 30 minute (chronograph)
1/ 10th second AND an hour indicator on the same register? Yes, the way this works is that any event timed for less than 30 minutes will show the 1/ 10th second scale. After 30 minutes that register now displays hours, with markers for every half-hour and the 1/10th timing is lost.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Blue Dial- WAZ1010
43mm is a new case size for the Formula 1 watch- traditionally, the Chronograph has been offered in a 43mm case, but the standard watch maxed out at 41mm…but not any more. Note that the aluminium bezel on the watch (now a minute bezel rather than the tachymeter on the Chronograph) is unidirectional, rather than fixed.
As with all Formula 1 models you’ll note that the model name on the dial is “TAG Heuer Formula 1” and not simply “Formula 1”. The reason for this is a deal with Formula 1 itself to make it clear that the watch is not sanctioned by Formula 1, but instead is a well-known TAG Heuer brand.
Like its Chronograph brother, the watch is water-resistant to 200m.
From Every Angle
We love this watch on the technical strap you see here- a design that works better than the Orange and Blue version standard with the Chronograph. The base strap is a dark blue, with a lighter Blue central stripe bounded by smaller white stripes- and it looks fantastic.
You can buy the watch with a steel bracelet, and again from a value point of view that is the smart thing to do, given that the price premium for the bracelet is only $150, a much smaller price that buying the bracelet on its own later. But we’d keep this one on the strap at all times.
The Watch has the same caseback as the Chronograph and uses a Ronda Swiss quartz movement- this time it’s the Ronda 6003D.
On the Wrist
OK, enough with the theory- here’s how the 2016 F1 looks on the wrist.
The secret to the F1 is its relatively slim case- one of the benefits of using a quartz movement. You can see here that despite its large 43mm case, the watch doesn’t look as large on the wrist, as say a 43mm Carrera.
The watch of course felt lighter on the wrist given we’ve got the nylon strap fitted. The NATO is super-comfortable, but also a notch above the quality of most aftermarket NATO straps you’ll see online.
Price and Availability- Formula 1 Blue Dial CAZ1014 and WAZ1010
As we alluded to at the beginning of the review, the 2016 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Blue dials models are priced well, with a range of $1,150-$1500 depending on the model chosen. US pricing is as follows:
- Watch- Technical Strap FC8197: US$1,150
- Watch- Bracelet BA0842: US$1,300
- Chronograph- Technical Strap FC8196: US$1,350
- Chronograph- Bracelet BA0842: US$1,500
Both models are available now globally, either at TAG Heuer’s online store or via your local dealer.
The 2015 redesign has really given the Formula 1 a lift, with it’s fantastic 1970s-style case. Combine that with a return to colour, and we’re sold on the new Formula 1. The F1 was the watch that saved TAG Heuer during the mid-late 1980s and it did so because it was a fun, sporty design that was well-priced. Nothing has changed.
So who is this watch for? It’s perfect fit for that “first real watch” category, or as a sporty option for the weekends. And that’s why we say that it wouldn’t make sense to have an automatic movement in this watch…quartz fits the intended purpose better. Buy the watch with the bracelet, but wear it with the strap.
- TAG Heuer does wonderfully bright blue star-burst dials, and this one is no exception- looks fantastic with the blue bezel
- For many years TAG Heuer’s range of straps stagnated, but with the technical straps for the Formula 1 and the nylon straps offered on the Aquaracers, there is now a range of options. This is the perfect watch for a NATO-style strap, and we we especially like the Black/ Blue/ White strap
- A lot of people look down on quartz- but a battery-powered movement is absolutely the right choice for this watch. Low cost and can take the knocks (Oh, and it’s far more accurate..)
- Just over US$1000 for the 3-hand watch is great value for TAG Heuer
- Blue and Orange? Yeah, looks OK. Blue and Red? Yes, that the combo we’d prefer to see
- The hour/ minute hands on the Formula 1 series are a little shapeless for our liking
- Delete the over-sized “12” and “6” from the dial