Ultimate Guide to the TAG Heuer 1000 Professional

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   19 December 2009   |   121 Comments  

Sometimes watch companies must wonder what the secret is to a developing a successful new model. Watches that are lovingly developed by the world’s most powerful luxury goods company and backed by history and large marketing budgets can sometimes fail to catch fire (such as the Autavia), yet others that are developed as side projects can turn into hugely popular models that enjoy success over more than a decade. The watch that has become known as the TAG Heuer 1000 Professional series is a great example of the latter.

IMG_4424Having gone through the 1970s naming its watches after wonderfully evocative race tracks and cities, Heuer seemed to give up as the 1980s came around, simply using reference numbers in the place of model names. So the Heuer 1000 never really had a name for the first 5 years of its life and was instead known by its reference numbers- 844 and 980. It wasn’t until 1985 that the watch was given a proper name- The 1000.

The 1000 was a watch that Heuer didn’t initially believe in enough to invest in tooling up for production itself, instead outsourcing the production to a French company in 1979. Heuer had produced diver watches before with the Autavia, but this was something different- a low cost diver model with the option of a quartz movement.

By the  time the TAG Heuer 1000 Professional was finally retired in 1992/3, it had not only proved to be one of the most successful TAG Heuer watches, but had created a design template the survives today through the latest TAG Heuer Aquaracer.

The Early Days: Made in France- Ref. 844

Jarl Fr. Rehn-Erichsen’s website Classic Heuers has some great photos of the first generation Heuer 1000- the Heuer 844. This model was designed and manufactured by the French company G. Monnin and featured a Felsa movement, available in both automatic and quartz. These 844 Heuers are some of the few Heuer models that don’t carry the “made in Switzerland” script due to their French origins.

Already evident on the 844  are the design features that would last for more than a decade: The triangle marker at 12 o’clock, the circle hour-markers, the black diving bezel and the elevated guards around the crown.

I’ve struggled to find out much about the “G. Monnin” company that made these early watches. Was it Gaston Monnin, the French watchmaker from Charquemont in the French alps and near the Swiss border? Certainly I’d like to find out more about M. Monnin, who was also Mayor of Charquemont in the late 1960s and early 1970s- it sounds like there is a story there to be told.

Jarl’s website has more photos of his early 844 Heuer/ Monnin Diver here

The Heuer 980.xxx: Made in Switzerland

When the 844 series proved itself to be a success, Heuer began to switch production of the watch back to Switzerland and replaced the Fesla movements with ETA movements. However, the watch still didn’t really have a name- gone was the 844 serial number and in its place were new model numbers- typically 980.xxx depending on the variant.

At the same time the look of the watch was changed slightly- gone are the 24-hour red numerals and there is the first sign of the “Mercedes Hands” that Heuer and TAG Heuer would soon use on all of their diver watches.

The photo on the right shows a photo from the 1981 Heuer Catalog- I believe that the Orange-faced model is a transitional model still with some French parts (note the 844-style hands and the lack of “Swiss made” on the dial”.

Heuer also replaced “Professionel” with the English spelling “Professional”. TAG Heuer would later use the Professional label to generally indicate that a watch was quartz-powered, but initially “Professional” is found on both automatic and quartz watches. Why it was ever spelled “Professionel” rather than the correct French “Professionnel” is a mystery to me- maybe a French reader can clear that up.

My favourtite watch from this era is the 980.032 which had luminescent material covering the entire dial. These are fantastic watches that can be found for around USD500 today without too much trouble. This “glow watch” came with both an orange and yellow dial- its probably the orange that is the rarer variety.

IMG_6653

There were a huge range of variation of the Heuer 980 series- it came in three sizes (Mens, Boys and Ladies), various case materials (PVD, Stainless Steel and Gold-plate) and various movements (quartz, Automatic and a quartz analogue-digital combination).

TAG Heuer 1000

By the time that TAG bought Heuer in 1984/ 5, the diver watch finally had a name- the 1000 series. The very last of the watches produced by Heuer have “1000″ on the dial as well as the “Heuer” only logo.

Initially not much changed with the TAG Heuer 1000 Professional- it was essentially the same watch as the Heuer 980 series, but with TAG Heuer on the dial. However, the late 1980s love of two-tone Gold and stainless steel soon infected the 1000 series, with all sorts of colour combination’s offered- some of the “highlights” of this dubious era are shown below:

1990P56

Quite why you would want a gold divers watch is beyond me, but TAG Heuer wasn’t alone in producing the two-tone models, and Rolex and others including TAG Heuer still do today.

The 1500 Series

While  the 1000 series disappeared from the TAG Heuer catalogue in 1992/ 3, in reality it survived as the 1500 series (presumably named because it was 50% better than the 1000). Some of the 1500 series models were almost identical to the earlier 1000 series (for example, the blue faced watch below, which has lost the 1000 series circles hour-markers), while others started to develop a distinct look, abandoning the black diving bezel in favour of silver, to bring the watch into line with the other TAG Heuer watches of the day- the 2000, 4000 and 6000 series.

M. Monnin could never have imagined that his low-cost 1979 design sold to Heuer would be so enduring that it would influence the watch worn by an American President when he collected his Nobel Peace Prize 30 years later.

Influence TodayTAGWAN2110

President Obama’s love of his TAG Heuer 1500 is not the only on-going influence of that original Heuer 844.

On the right is the 2009/ 10 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300 Calibre 5, which has several clear links with the 1000 series- the black bezel is back,  as are the circular hour markers. The watch still has the crown guard and has a very similar overall case design to the original Heuer 844.

Many people have a special love for the TAG Heuer 1000 as it was an affordable way of getting into the world of quality Swiss watches- for many, it was their first “proper” watch and offers great value for money.

And today its still affordable, with prices ranging from $300-700 for a second-hand Heuer/ TAG Heuer 1000 Professional. These are pretty tough watches that generally can take a fair beating and still look good- its really only the bezel condition that gives away what sort of life a watch has led. Sadly, these are also very difficult to replace with correct TAG Heuer parts, although there are several aftermarket options available.

The TAG Heuer 1000 still offers a lot of watch for your money and make a great choice as a Heuer/ TAG Heuer to wear as a daily wearer where you won’t be continually worried about scratches or scrapes. Just steer clear of the two-tone gold!

Postscript

This article was originally posted in December 2009. In March 2010 I had the chance to ask Jack Heuer some questions about the Heuer/ TAG Heuer diver watches, which you can read here. You’ll note that Jack says that the first watches were not out-sourced and that it was a design- both case and dial- by Heuer.

 

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Photos:

2) Classic Heuers: http://classicheuers.blogspot.com/2009/01/heuer-844-french-made-diver.html

3, 5 and 6) Heuer catalog: OnTheDash

6) Bernard Watch

Home » 1000 Series, Diver Watches, The Ultimate Guide
  • Gambba

    Great article.
    Was very glad to see some good info on an often overlooked model, and I was always a fan of Tag's in the late 80's, early 90's when I was a kid. Later Tag's not so much. The info here helped me pick up a Heuer 980.029L (Black PVD/Gold) which will soon be serviced and be put on a Nato. It was a bit of a gamble based on quite bad pics of it on ebay, but picked it up for a good price, although not operational. The great thing is that everything except the bracelet is still Heuer (Crown, dial, back), and the dial is in amazing condition, will post some pics in the not so distant future

  • http://www.calibre11.com Calibre 11

    Thanks Gambba- these look great on a NATO, so good choice. Yes, please do come back and share some photos.

    cheers

    David

    • Gambba

      On another note it would be great to see the original article updated with the corrections from Jack Heuer's interview and other facts that have come to light since, just so everything is contained within this one great article on the 1000.

      Another amendment is regarding the statement on the two tone models as late 80's model under TAG. They were in fact introduced in the very early 80's as evidenced in the 1982 Heuer catalogues. The black PVD/Gold and Silver/Gold in the '82 Divers Catalogue and the full gold in the '82 Speciality watch catalogue, both of which are Heuer's (obviously) and without the '1000' on the face.

      It also seems that there was a cross over period in maybe '85/'86 where Heuer parts were mixed with the new branded 'TAG Heuer' parts. I've seen a few Heuer faced watches with Tag Heuer backs and/or bracelets. The bracelets obviously can be a replacement part, but unlikely the back plate and fits in with other stuff I've read. Shown in the '85 catalogue you see Heuer watches but the TAG Heuer brand is shown within the pages, so seems they weren't afraid of mixing things up at that time.

      My Heuer 980.029L mentioned in my above comment is a Heuer with the 1000 on the face, and I believe it's from 84/85 and assembled under Tag Heuer. It could be earlier depending on when exactly '1000' was put on the dial faces.

      Would be happy to assist in adding new info into the article if wanted, as well as expand further on the great primary info that's here already….I may work on it anyway and send it through and you can decide if you wish to use it or not ;)

      Great site, resource and article.

      Would live to share a pic of my Heuer 1000 but can't see how to attach a picture.

      • http://www.calibre11.com David Chalmers

        Yes, you’re 100% right that this article needs an update…I really should get around to it, as there is a lot more info to share, including a cool link to Patek Philippe.

        You’re also right on the mixed Heuer/ TAG Heuer parts being common through the late 1980s..I think it came down to nothing more than they used the parts that they had printed/ stamped until those ran out. If you take a look at the article I wrote on Heuer/ TAG Heuer advertsing, you’ll see that the company still referred to itself as “Heuer” in some print ads as late as 1990, which is a bit bizarre.

        And of course, any input is more than welcome- info@calibre11.com

        Thanks for your detailed comment

        dc

  • Andres Solares

    M wife has a tag 1000 ad I need to find a replacement bracelet for it. Could you tell me where I could find it, please?

    • JOECIV

      an authorized dealer can help you out on that. I had the black and gold, ordered a stainless and gold replacement band – and had the watch case buffed to bright polished SS. Band was about $200, case shinning was aout $100. but I bought the watch new, in 1989 – so it was worth it to me to repair.

  • http://www.calibre11.com Calibre 11

    Best place is eBay…try here:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_odkw=tag+heuer+

    Good luck!

    dc

  • Dave Edelman

    I have a 1984 Tag Heuer Black Coral II dive the small one and I need a band for it can anybody help me?

    • Poseidon-Jim

      Hi Dave,

      I'm sure other will weigh in here to help you when they visit the site, so hang in there and you'll have some advice & help added to your question.

      I would suggest checking on eBay's auction sites, as well as checking some of the Heuer/Tag Heuer watch forum sales corners, as well as adding a WTB post on some of them such as Chronocentric.com, ect.

      Best regards,
      Poseidon-Jim

      • Poseidon-Jim

        Hi Dave,

        Well I found this partial group of bracelet links, and while I have no idea if you have the series 1000 black coral Tag of which these links are for I think, they just might help you, or at least give you other places to look around in to see if they may have parts for you.
        Hope this may be helpful to you:
        http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Genuine-TAG-Heuer-Black

        Cheers,
        Jim

  • Don raphael

    844/1 for salep