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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.

McLaren Team

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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.

TAG Heuer McLaren 6000

Launched in 2000, the 6000 McLaren was limited to 2000 watches and for the first time used the 6000-series as the basis. This is my favourite of the McLaren watches and features a textured black dial with the red McLaren “tick”. The design is far simpler than the previous watches, and the better for it.

TAG Heuer Kirium McLaren

The last of the McLaren series was launched in 2001 and this time was a titanium Ti5 Kirium. Like the 6000-series, the Kirium had  the black dial with the red accents and a rubber strap with grooves to mimic the grooves on the F1 tyres of the day.

McLaren Drivers

In addition the watches that were co-branded with McLaren, there was also a series of watches released in partnership with the two driver who drove for the team during these years- double World Champion Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.

Mika HakkinenMika Hakkinen in his McLaren car

 

Finnish driver Mika Hakkinen joined McLaren in 1993, when he was officially the reserve driver to Ayrton Senna and Michael Andretti. When Andretti was sacked during the season, Hakkinen was drafted in to replace him and made an immediate impact, out-qualifying Senna at Estoril.

Hakkinen became the team’s lead driver in 1994 when Senna went to Williams Renault, and he kept that role until retiring from F1 in 2001 as a two-time World Champion.

The first of the Hakkinen watches is this blue S/el (below), which doesn’t have any marking on the dial, but has Mika’s signature on the back of the watch

The better-known of the Hakkinen series are two 6000 Series released as a Limited Edition of 2000 to mark Hakkinen’s first world title in 1998. Again on the back is Mika’s signature and his nickname: “The Flying Finn”. The watch came with either a white dial with black sub-dials, or black dial with silver sub-dials.

Both watches have “Hakkinen” on the right-hand side of the dial, just above the date window.

David Coulthard

Scot David Coulthard was the Williams test driver in 1994 and was promoted to the race team when Senna died at Imola. He drove for the remainder of the 1994 season before getting the full-time job in 1995, by which time he already had an option to join McLaren, which he did in 1996. Coulthard raced for McLaren until 2004, before spending the last four years of his career with Red Bull Racing.

There is only one David Coulthard TAG Heuer, but while Mika had to settle for a quartz watch, DC scored an S/el Chronometer. It’s a fairly simple design, with a small chequered flag in the centre of the dial with “Coulthard” across the middle.

TAG Heuer and McLaren Today

While the partnership between TAG Heuer and McLaren remains strong, it has changed over the last few years. The McLaren F1 car no longer carries a TAG Heuer logo, although TAG Heuer remain a sponsor and partner of the team. Each McLaren driver has become brand ambassadors for TAG Heuer, including Kimi Raikkonen who maintained this relationship (although limited to TAG Heuer sunglasses) after his switch to Ferrari.

In terms of watches there have been two limited editions released under Lewis Hamilton’s name- a Carrera and (somewhat surprisingly) an Aquaracer Calibre S (above).

The Carrera is the pick of these, with a metallic grey dial and red highlights, including Hamilton’s signature. The Carrera also has the words “2008 World Champion”  on the left-hand sub-dial to mark Hamilton’s title.

While TAG Heuer have decided that the strategy of backing brand ambassadors in F1 is better value than paying for stickers on a F1 car, I would love to see the TAG Heuer logo back on a McLaren, just as I would love to see TAG Heuer focus more on the relationship that it had with perhaps the most famous McLaren driver of all- Ayrton Senna.

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Photos

1) 6000 McLaren, West McLaren S/el, 6000 Hakkinen: Stephen Lovell – SwissWristWatches.co.uk

2) McLaren S/el, Coulthard S/el: Premier Brands Boutique

3) Hamilton Carrera: Rage2: http://forums.watchuseek.com/f25/tag-heuer-carrera-lewis-hamilton-limited-edition-370249.html

  • afiq JNC70

    Nice article.. i own the carrera lewis hamilton limited edition.. hope tag heuer and mc laren will continuosly together

    • DC

      It's looking more likely. If I was Ferrari, I'd fancy my chances of getting Lewis…but I also hope he stays

      dc

  • MVH

    Hi, I've only just come across this website but was hoping you could solve a dilemma for me. I own a 6000 series with metal band and unfortunately one on the linkages in the band has broken. I have been quoted $1,600 to replace it (ouch!!). Can you advise what my options might be? Are there any options for cheaper sourced spares, or can I have it repaired by a specialist jeweller/watch maker? I'm located in Perth, Australia.

    At that price a second hand one is probably around the same cost.

    MVH

  • Hi MVH,

    I wouldn't replace the bracelet at that price. Here are a few eBay options:

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=tag+heuer+600

    Have you seen my review of the 6000 series here?:

    http://www.calibre11.com/tag-heuer-6000-series-ov

    David

  • MVH

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your advice. Mine is actually a limited edition McLaren (1415 of 2000 from memory), the same one as the first picture on the front page of this article. I love it so much that it hasn't been taken off my wrist since purchased in 2001.

    Looks like the eBay option might be the way to go.

    Thanks again.

    Cheers,

    MVH

  • Pleased to help!

    Cheers

  • paul russell

    hi, i have a series6000 mika hakkinen with the three dials and only mikka signature on the back, i was looking to trade it for a lewis hamilton, tried a local watch buyer and he offered $2000 canadaian, do you think this was a good offer

  • Hi Paul,

    Yes, I reckon that's an OK deal.

    David

  • mark

    Hi David,

    Great site, i was wondering if you know of any sites i can buy a genuine Tag Mclaren Mercedes watch from?

    Many thanks,

    Mark

    • Thanks Mark. No obvious place to look, other than eBay. Every few months there seems to be a nice Senna/ Mclaren TAG Heuer offered, so keep an eye out there.

      David

  • Francois

    Hi after more than 2 years of buying, trading and selling TAGs I finally got a TAG special to me, a Kirium Ti5 McLaren, I always liked the look of the Kirium but never really went out to buy one, a bit costly here and they tend to go quickly, so recently I sold 2 of my TAGs and on impulse heard of a Kirium McLaren forsale and just bought, with out even seeing the watch, best “gamble” I ever made. Awesome watch 🙂

  • Hi Francois- a great watch. Assume that it's got a nice light feel to it?

    They sometimes do crop up on eBay in mint condition, but certainly not one that you see every day!

    dc

  • Francois

    Its very light, a bit to light for my taste but I guess its in line with the F1 McLaren also being “light”, the weight I can get used to but what is a bit bothersome is the chrome dials, if the light hits in a certain way its difficult to read the dials, white would have worked better I recon. But all in all great watch and yes not something u see every day.

  • steve

    Hi,

    I recently purchaced a variant of the 6000 series McLaren CH1117 watch from a Mclaren collector. It is NOS with all the tags present along with all the boxes, McLaren certificate etc. I have been collecting TAG watches for many years and it is genuine. I have had this confirmed at my local TAG dealer. There is a slightly different caseback – It is not numbered but does say Limited Edition. What it does have on the caseback is West and the West logo. The movement inside is the standard ETA 251.262 27 Jewel.
    The outer box also has West and the logo below the TAG logo.

    Could this be a West staff variant of this McLaren watch or did TAG make another run of this model? Has anyone else seen this variant?

    I have other 6000 chronographs in my collection and they have exactlly the same case / bracelet as this watch, also my TAG dealer has confirmed the watch is genuine.

    • Hi Steve,

      Yes, I think that there are a couple of different versions- do you have any photos that you could send? info@calibre11.com

      Cheers

      David

  • manu walia

    can some bidy please tell me that what is the price of tag heuer west Mclaren mercedes 2014 wrist watch model