Diamond Life: TAG Heuer and Precious Stones
A few weeks ago, Mark Moss wrote a couple of great stories that chronicled Heuer and TAG Heuer‘s use of precious metals over the years. I’ve always thought of Heuer and TAG Heuer as makers of sports chronographs, so my taste in case materials doesn’t usually extend far beyond stainless steel…although I will gladly accept a Rose Gold Monaco V4 if pushed!
Still, there is no getting around the fact that some like their watches with a little more bling, and so if a Gold case is not enough, there is always the options of adding diamonds.
Of course, using diamonds on ladies watches is a long-established approach to design, but this article will focus on the Men’s range of TAG Heuer watches that have had that extra sparkle. And for those of you who can’t think of anyone would want a few carats on their Carrera, bear in mind that Lewis Hamilton wears a custom-made Carrera with diamonds. Then again, he is World Champion, so he’s probably allowed a few more liberties with fashion than most of us.
Diamonds were not used on any of the well-known Heuer watches- in fact, I can’t find a single example of a diamond-encrusted Heuer. This makes sense when you look at why the Swiss brands were suffering in the 1970s/ 80s: they were simply not cost competitive with the Japanese quartz watches. Given this environment, adding extras like diamonds was not something high on the priority list.
The first example that I can find of a Men’s Diamond TAG Heuer is the 6000 Chronometer from 1994-6, Ref. WH234F (the white-dial model above). This watch only uses diamonds on the hour-markers, and so was subtle- at least to the extent that a 18k yellow Gold watch can be called understated.
The early 2000s
It was under LVMH ownership that the use of diamonds really accelerated. Recall that one of LVMH’s strategies when it acquired TAG Heuer was to increase the prestige of the brand. Given that introducing new up-market series takes time, the quickest way of injecting a little premium luxury into the line was to add precious stones to existing models.
The Microtimer above, the Link and 2000 Series below were each blinged up- the 2000 as noted before went all out with diamonds and sapphires on a 18k gold case.
Even the Carrera chronograph got the precious stone treatment. Many models like the one below are what I’d consider uni-sex watches, in that they use a men’s size case, but often with a mother of pearl dial.
Many of these diamond watches were special orders rather than being part of the mainstream line, which reflects both their niche appeal and the additional cost.
One of the more prominent series with precious stones was the “Absolute” TAG Heuer series that consisted of a Monaco and a Kirium. The Monaco is the most appealing because it went the furthest in terms of designing a bespoke model, rather than simply laying diamonds around the perimeter of the case.