While the headline of TAG Heuer’s pre-Basel releases was the Carrera Mikrograph and the Carrera MP4-12C, there was also plenty of news regarding other watches planned for 2011. In fact, the clear message that I was left with was that there will be more new models launched this year that perhaps ever before. What we’ve seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg for 2011.
So, here is the wrap-up from Geneva, including some photos of new 2011 Formula 1 models, some early information on the new Link series from Jean-Christophe Babin and a few photos of some of the Formula 1 cars on display.
2011 Formula 1
The first of the 2011 Formula 1 watches shown at Geneva was the Formula 1 Lady Steel and Ceramic Chronograph, essentially a Chronograph version of the already popular Ceramic Lady Formula 1 series. There will be three versions available in both black and white. The first version is the plain Steel and Ceramic (see the black watch second below), the second is the Diamond-dial version (the white watch below) and finally at the top of the line is the Diamond dial with a Diamond bezel.
Normally I’m not a fan of Chronograph watches in the smaller Ladies-sized cases, but I think that the Formula 1 Chronograph actually looks quite good- especially in white. I understand that TAG Heuer are very happy with the Steel and Ceramic versions, and I still wonder when we’ll see the combination used on a men’s watch.
There were three new Formula 1 men’s models on display- the Grand Date in orange (44mm- see below), The Orange Formula 1 watch (41mm case, second photo below) and finally a new Calibre S model (44mm case), that offers 1/100th second accuracy. The Calibre S model is styled along the same theme as the Monaco Twenty-Four, with the “24” number at the 12 o’clock position and the Gulf- inspired stripes.
Interview with Jean-Christoph Babin
Many of the key points from my interview with CEO Jean Christophe Babin have already been included in the posts on the Carrera 1887, Carrera Mikrograph and the Carrera MP4-12C. But there were some other topics covered which provided some interesting insights:
On The trend away from Quartz…
“I have to say that Quartz has a long life ahead, below USD1000, but it becomes quite challenging with mens’ watches above say USD1500- and in between these points it’s a grey zone. So, yes the steady trend is that above USD1500, men are valuing mechanic over quartz.
It’s quite different for Ladies, even though we see the same trend coming. Many Ladies watches are gifted by Men, and so as Men value mechanical watches more, they will seek out the same for their gift. But Ladies when they buy for themselves usually prefer quartz.
But the demand for mechanical watches overall is a deep industry structural trend driven by consumers”
Why there were no Link Series watches on display in Geneva…
“Yes, and that’s on purpose, because we can’t broadcast too many messages at the same time. Bu the Link series is more alive than ever, and together with the Carrera and Aquaracer it’s one of the three pillars worldwide in terms of volumes and sales. It’s very popular in the US, Japan and it’s our best seller in China- so it’s a major series for us.
Last time it was updated was 2004/ 5, so you can imagine that we’ll update it again fairly soon. Today we are selling the third generation Link design and we’re working right now on the fourth, which could be released anywhere from Fall 2011 to mid-2012 latest.
But like we do with the Aquaracer, it will be a gentle change- not a revolution. It’s an icon that has proved successful over the last 24 years, so we won’t change it too much. Probably as usual, each component will be new and different, but the overall look will still focus on that mix of sports and elegance”.
When the Calibre 1887 will be offered in other Series…
“At the moment, demand is so strong for the Carrera, that even if we wanted to offer the 1887 in other watches, we can’t. So until we can meet the demand for the Carrera 1887 we shouldn’t divert the movement into other cases, because then we create two problems instead of one. Already today we have an issue: yes, it’s good to be desired and for high demand and its OK to wait a bit for a watch that you desire- but you can’t wait a year either”.
On Replacing the Aquagraph…
“Well, to us the Aquaracer 500m is taking over the role of the Aquagraph, but with the benefit of being a Chronograph and a watch. The Aquagraph was a great piece with one limitation that we kept hearing from the Dealers: the lack of a date. OK, on a functional diving watch it’s not crucial to know the date, but the watch was being sold to people who liked multiple functions on a watch and they wanted the date.
So we see the Aquaracer 500m as the evolution of the Aquagraph- its borrows the same bracelet- but now offered as a Chronograph or a watch and now with the date.”
Mastering Time Exhibition
Apart from the watches, TAG Heuer also brough together a dozen or so racing cars from different eras as part of their Geneva show. 2011 is the year of Motor sport for TAG Heuer, with this years theme being “Mastering Time”. Not surprisingly, McLaren dominated the display, with cars including Ayrton Senna’s championship winning 1990 McLaren-Honda, Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren-Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton’s 2009 car.
Also on display was the Ferrari 312T, which featured the famous Heuer logo on the front of the car. Again it reminded me that while today’s Formula 1 sponsorship focuses on drivers and teams, it’s such a shame that there are no TAG Heuer logo’s featured on modern F1 McLaren’s. Yes, I’m sure that it’s a lot more expensive to get your sticker on the car itself, but nothing is as iconic as seeing the Heuer or TAG Heuer logo on the great old cars themselves, rather than just being a strategic partner of the teams.
So that was the best of the Geneva “Pre-Basel” show, and given that Basel itself is only 5 weeks away, there will be a lot more 2011 news coming soon.