While there have been several generations of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 series since its launch in 1986, there has been one constant: Quartz. In fact, the spirit of the original series was based around low-cost materials (Fibreglass case, resin strap, simple sales packaging), bright colours and like the original Swatch watches of the 1980s was proudly quartz. A mechanical movement would have made no sense for either watch, given their positioning.
As the Formula 1 series has grown up, the tide has turned against quartz, with the majority of watch buyers today preferring mechanical movements.
And so twenty-seven years after the original Formula 1 series was launched, we now have the 2013 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16- the first men’s automatic Formula 1 (yes, the Formula 1 Lady series got there first) is with us.
Naturally, the mechanical F1 shares its style with its quartz brother, but with a few important differences. The most notable being size, with the Calibre 16 model stretching the tape to 44mm, 2mm larger than the current range.
Of course, the dial layout changes to the traditional Calibre 16 “12-6-9” layout and there is a new design for the central Chronograph hand, which you see above. For the first time, the design has the TAG Heuer logo incorporated into the base of the hand (a nice touch!), and the hand is finished in polished steel (with a red-tip, depending on model) as against the all-red Chronograph hand on the quartz Chronograph.
The other colour design flourish to note is the coloured finish on the two Chronograph pushers and Crown- again a style unique to the mechanical Formula 1. Perhaps this compensates for the loss of the colour TAG Heuer logo- there was a time when quartz TAG Heuer models used the color logo, while the automatic models uses a monochrome logo.
Finally, while the quartz Chronograph (below) has a minuterie scale on the edge of the dial (below), the Calibre 16 model offers this scale on an inner bezel.
In the last 2 years, TAG Heuer has reacted to the shortage of movement supply coming from ETA (part of Swatch Group), by also using the Sellita SW-500. The Sellita is essentially the same movement as the ETA (being itself a cloned 7750), and TAG Heuer uses these two movements interchangeably now as the Calibre 16.
Formula 1 Steel & Ceramic- CAU2011
There are three models offered at launch- the first being a Steel & Ceramic model (Ceramic used for the bezel and the bricks in the bracelet). Reference CAU2011, the watch has a starburst anthracite dial and Red flourishes on the hands, Chronograph pushers and crown.
Formula 1 Steel & Ceramic- CAU2010
Formula 1 Titanium Carbide- CAU2012
The Black case and ceramic bezel are contrasted by the bright Orange details on the dial and inner-bezel. The watch is much more in keeping with the bold and colourful approach of the original Formula 1 series, and makes a nice change from the more classical designs of the Steel & Ceramic models.
This version is available only a new-design rubber strap.
Pricing and Availability
The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 Chronograph models are on sale from June 2013, depending on market.
Pricing in Switzerland is around CHF3,000 (depending on model), a premium of around CHF1,000 over the equivalent quartz models.
And now for the review…
We’ve now had a chance to get our hands on the Calibre 16 Formula 1- check out the detailed review + photos
Live Photos thanks to Jeff Go