With this year’s Indianapolis 500 race delayed from its traditional May date to 23 August, there has been a similar push-back in the unveiling of the 2020 TAG Heuer special edition Indy 500 watch. Three months late it may be, but it has been worth the wait, because the 2020 Formula 1 500 Indy 500 edition is one of our favourite watches in the current Formula 1 collection and one of the best Indy 500 editions since the partnership between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (“IMS”) and TAG Heuer began back in 1991.
We had the chance to borrow the Formula 1 Indy 500 for a week, along with other TAG Heuer 2020 releases. And despite there being more pricey mechanical watches in that 2020 collection, this was the watch that we came back to time and time again. It served as a good reminder of the attraction of the Formula 1 series as a well-priced option in the TAG Heuer range with a genuine modern motorsport heritage.
It was also a reminder that while watch collectors- us included- prefer the romance and traditional of mechanical watches, there are real benefits of quartz watches as a sporty go-to option, not the least of which is the more modest case thickness and weight combined with additional shock-resistance.
The starting point for the watch is the standard stainless steel case for the F1 quartz chronograph range- meaning a 43mm diameter. That’s not a small watch by any definition, but the thin profile of the case means that it never feels overly large on the wrist.
What sets this model apart is the black DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating on the case, which matches well with the black fixed ceramic bezel. The bezel has a tachymeter scale, with the words “Indy 500” in red.
The caseback is specially decorated, with the final production watch to feature the revised date of the race in August rather than the May original you see in the image above.
What makes this watch special is the dial. It starts with a black base dial, which has a textured finish, not unlike bitumen. Having vertical stripes on a dial is nothing new, but as you can see from this close-up shot, the red/ brown stripe here is actually made up of different coloured bricks, a nod to the “Brickyard” nickname for the Indianapolis circuit, which harks back to the days when the track was originally paved with bricks.
Today, only a strip of bricks remains on the start-finish line, linking the history of IMS with the surface requirements of a modern, high-speed track.
The six o’clock register carries the famous IMS winged logo, which has featured on Heuer watches since the 1960s.
The watch offers a 1/ 10th second timing via the quartz chronograph movement (Ronda 5040D). The central steel hand records chronograph seconds, with the 1/ 10th recorded on the 6 o’clock register.
The F1 Indy 500 comes with a single strap option, a black rallye style rubber strap with a pin buckle. It’s not the same quality of rubber that you’ll find on the Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon for example, but you wouldn’t expect it to be. It’s comfortable, looks good and feels like a fitting choice for the watch.
On the Wrist
As we covered in the introduction, we were really drawn by the Indy 500 on the wrist. The black case gives the watch a modern feel, with the contrasting white registers and red “stripe” helping this one stand out from other Formula 1 Chronographs. And that’s before you get to that famous Indy logo.
It’s a great-looking watch and one we loved wearing.
Price and Availability
The 2020 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Indy 500 Chronograph is a limited edition of 1500 watches, each carrying the inscription “One of 1500”. We’ve been consistently of the view that LE watches should be individually numbered, rather than being a generic number, but it does seem to be the approach that TAG Heuer intend to continue moving forward.
The watch is priced at US$2,100, a premium of some $250 over the stainless steel F1 Chronograph, which lacks this watch’s limited edition status and DLC coating. Last, but not least, there is a bespoke box.
The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Indy 500 is a very well executed limited edition that takes the best elements of the Formula 1 series and combines these with the history and prestige of one of the world’s most famous motor races. In this case, it’s much better late than never.