Ultimate Guide to the TAG Heuer Titanium

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   5 June 2010   |   27 Comments  

While the internet offers collectors and prospective buyers a great way of researching and finding watches, there is still nothing like looking through a nice printed catalogue to get you in the buying mood. In looking through one of these catalogues, it was interesting to see the mix of new technologies and materials that TAG Heuer offer- mechanical quartz, titanium and carbon fibre.

But while you might think that these technologies are spread throughout the 2010 catalogue (Calibre S, Grand Carrera Titanium and Day-Date Carrera Carbon fibre), it was actually a 1983 catalogue and a single watch that had all of these features- the Heuer Titanium series.

The 1980s were obviously a difficult time for watch lovers- famous Swiss watch houses were falling and everyone seemed to be heading towards quartz movements. It was also a difficult time for Heuer, with the company being lost to the Heuer family and sold first to a Piaget/ Nouvelle Lemania consortium and then on to the Middle East investment house, Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG).

The watches from this era….well, let’s just say that they’re not on the top of collectors minds today- but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some interesting models- and the Titanium series is one of these.

Series One- Heuer Titanium

The Heuer Titanium series was launched in 1983 and marketed as having “space-age” technologies- a case and bracelet made entirely of titanium and, on some models, Carbon fibre inserts on the bracelet. And space-age was very much the flavour of 1983- the Space Shuttle Columbia that first flew in 1981 was pictured in the sales brochure next to the watches.

The design of the Titanium is very similar to that of the Heuer 2000 quartz Chronograph of the same era, but in a higher-grade case. While the 2000 quartz Chronograph had flat-colored dials, the Titanium dial was anthracite to give it a high-tech look.

As befitting the higher price point of this series, the Titanium series all featured a sapphire crystal, while most contemporary Heuer models still used mineral glass.

The Heuer Titanium was available in three models:

  • Titanium and Gold- fixed bezel
  • Titanium and Gold- rotating bezel
  • Titanium and Carbon fibre- fixed bezel

Each of these models came in three versions- two sports watches (Mens and Ladies, ref. 823.213 and 823.208 respectively for the Carbon fibre versions) and as a chronograph (223.206- again, for the Carbon fibre).

 

Limited Edition: Heuer Fittipaldi Titanium

The most interesting version of the Heuer Titanium is the Emerson Fittipaldi edition that was released in 1985. Fittipaldi was a fascinating Formula 1 driver, in that by the time he was 27 he was not only Brazil’s first World Champion, but now a two-time champion. He left the McLaren team at the end of the 1975 season (where he was runner-up) to join his brothers team. That move proved to be unsuccessful, and after five tough seasons that brought only one podium, he left Formula one at the age of 34.

Nowadays, that would have been the end and Emerson would have drifted into commentary, but after a four-year break, Fittipaldi returned to open wheel racing in 1984 in the CART series, where he won two Indianapolis 500 races, the last in 1993 when he was 47. A true legend.

The Fittipaldi Titanium was released in 1985- one of the last watches with Heuer on the dial- and while it’s a shame that this great driver has his name on a Heuer Titanium rather than a classic Heuer Silverstone or Carrera, it’s a fitting end to the Heuer- Formula 1 era and a very rare watch. The example below is the only one that I’ve ever seen and was posted at the Italian Heuer forum at Vetroplastica.

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