The TAG Heuer McLaren Watches
TAG Heuer and the McLaren F1 team have had a long association, not just through common ownership (TAG formerly owning both TAG Heuer and 50% of what was called McLaren International; Ron Dennis of McLaren being a shareholder in TAG Heuer), but also through TAG Heuer’s sponsorship of the McLaren F1 team.
In the mid-late 1990s McLaren was undergoing a period of change- it had split from long-time engine partner Honda in 1993 and lost the Marlboro sponsorship deal at the end of 1996. So 1997 was a new chapter for McLaren, with the team entering its second year using the Mercedes engine and for the first time since the 1970s, a new lead-sponsor and colour scheme to replace the iconic Marlboro white with red flags.
As part of the effort to create a distinct McLaren brand, the team introduced a new logo (The McLaren red “tick”) and increased its focus on building McLaren into “the British Ferrari”, a plan that has gained further momentum with the launch of the MP4-12C road car in 2011.
This focus on branding also saw an increased partnership with TAG Heuer and a series of limited edition watches from 1998-2001 in the carrying both the McLaren name and the names of the two drivers during this period- Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.
There have been four limited edition McLaren TAG watches released during this period, two S/els, a 6000 series and a Kirium.
TAG Heuer McLaren S/el I
Ref.CG1117.BA0423 (above) is a quartz Limited Edition of 3999 watches launched in 1998 to commemorate McLaren winning the Constructors Championship. The watch has a silver dial with grey chequered flag and ” West McLaren Mercedes” written on the dial.
On the back are the signatures of Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard and Ron Dennis.
TAG Heuer McLaren S/ el II
The following year a second S/el was released (Ref CG2113.BA0473), a Limited Edition of 1500 watches. While Mika Hakkinen also won the 1999 F1 Drivers Championship, McLaren was beaten by Ferrari to the Constructors title.
This time TAG Heuer used the Calibre 16 (ETA 7750) movement and a cleaner design. The dial is quite a detailed design, featuring a patterned inner circle and a flat outer circle (see above) and black sub-dials.