First Look: 2012 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz

TAG Heuer has taken the wraps off the new Formula 1 quartz Series ahead of its Pre-Basel launch event in Geneva. While the existing series ballooned into a dizzying array of models, the new series keeps things focused with three flavours- a Watch, a Chronograph and a Watch with an alarm function. Giving the series variety is the array of materials- including stainless steel, aluminium, ceramic and titanium-carbide- employed to give the different models their own look and feel.

Since its introduction back in 1986, the The Formula 1 has been TAG Heuer’s entry-level sports watch- always quartz and with a more colourful and adventurous approach to design than the rest of the TAG Heuer range. The challenge for the new series is to build on this heritage in the context of TAG Heuer’s continued push to build its reputation as the one of the most innovative manufacturers of high-end mechanical movements. The most expensive TAG Heuer watch today costs 65-times as much as the cheapest…a huge spectrum of the market to cover.

But the Formula 1 is an important series, as it’s often the “gateway drug” to the world of TAG Heuer as well as a model that reinforces the brand’s link to Formula 1 racing.


Think of the new F1 Series as being a “Left-brain” design: logical, reasoned and rational. The design philosophy behind the 2012 F1 series is consistent with the re-design of the 2011 Link and Carrera 1887: a more mature, elegant design with no gimmicks. No polyurethane bumpers, no branding on the side of the case and no over-styled dials.

The case itself stays true to the basic shape of the original and settles on a 42mm size for all models. The dials move away from the printed finish of the current models to applied hour markers and a large “12” just above the TAG Heuer logo. Complementing the revised dial is a new-look for the hands, which settle for a classic polished-sword design across the range.

The other change immediately apparent is the focus on improving the quality of finishing on the watch. While the first F1 series made do with a Fibreglass-coated case and basic mineral glass, the quality of materials has improved with each new series. The biggest change here is the brushed stainless steel finish on both the case and the bracelet, with detailed polished finishes, such as the outer-edge of the fixed-bezel and the crown.

There are two types of bezel offered across the range- a fixed bezel for the Chronograph and Alarm (either stainless steel, titanium-carbide coated steel or stainless steel with aluminium/ ceramic insert- the last two options Chronograph only) and a turning bezel for the Watch (stainless steel or titanium-carbide coated steel). The models with a titanium-carbide coated bezel have a matching black crown, while the stainless steel models have a polished stainless steel crowns.

All models are water resistant to 200m.

Formula 1 Watch

Perhaps surprising for a watch that is synonymous with colour, the Formula 1 Watch is available in only two dial colours- white or black. The design of the new model is a big step-forward from the existing Watch selection, which comes in a variety of styles (see below).

The new Watch has a similar lay-out to the existing Grande Date model (above centre)- running seconds being recorded on a circular register at the 6 o’clock position that also houses the Grande Date function. It’s perhaps the only part of the design that doesn’t work in my view- I prefer a simple 3-hand watch with a running seconds hand mounted on a centre stem.

Stainless Steel Bezel

The stainless steel bezel Watch is available in either White (WAU1113) or Black (WAU1112) and only on a stainless steel bracelet. The bezel has minute markings at 5-minute intervals.

Both dial colours have a black date wheel with white numbers, making the date a little hard to read on the black-dial watch above.

Titanium-Carbide Bezel

The models closest to the original 1986 F1 series are the black-bezel versions, which are available in White (WAU1111), Black (WAU1110) or Black with Red detailing (WAU1114). At this stage, only WAU110 is available on a rubber strap.

Formula 1 Chronograph

The Chronograph models are at the heart of the F1 range and perhaps represent the most significant change from the 2011 models, which in my view suffer from being a little over-styled- especially the Grande Date version (below left).

All 2012 Chronographs share the same 3-Register design with 1/10th second accuracy and a date register at 4 o’clock. The registers are:

  • 3 o’clock: Elapsed seconds (time)
  • 6 0’clock: 1/10th Second and Hour (Chrono.)
  • 9 o’clock: 30-minute counter (Chrono.)

Chronograph seconds are recorded on the central seconds hand.

Just as with the current models, the Chronograph pushers are very nicely integrated into the design of the case. The bezel for the Chronograph has a tachy scale, unlike most of the current series where there is a tachy scale on an internal bezel.

Stainless Steel Bezel

There are two models available with the stainless steel bezel- the black dial model (CAU1112) and the Indy 500 edition (pictured at the top of this post).

The Indy 500 version ( CAU1113) is probably my favourite of the new range and has a fantastic star-burst anthracite dial and contrasting sub-dials.

Titanium Carbide Bezel

There are four Chronograph models with the titanium-carbide bezel- white (CAU1111), black-dial on either rubber strap or bracelet (CAU1110), Black with red detailing (CAU1116- above) and what we’ll the Formula 1 Stealth (CAU1114- below).

The F1 Stealth model is the antithesis of the original colourful F1- the only hint of colour on this model is the Red-tipped Chronograph hand.

The detailing on the Stealth model is fantastic- note the black lume and black-gold finishing on the hour markers. The case is still stainless steel, but with a titanium-carbide coating.

High-Performance Materials

At the top of the 2012 Formula 1 range are two models with what TAG Heuer called “high performance materials” as bezel inserts- ceramic and aluminium.

The ceramic version below is perhaps the most interesting, as it’s the first time that TAG Heuer have offered a ceramic bezel on any of its men’s watches- and hopefully not the last. The finish matches beautifully to the anthracite dial- the same colour as the F1 Indy 500.

The Ceramic F1 is available with either a standard stainless steel bracelet, or the Steel and Ceramic bracelet that you see above.

Last but not least is the Black and Red Chronograph (CAU1117) below, which uses the Stealth model as a base before adding bright red detailing and a bright red aluminium tachy bezel. This version is a dealer special-order, so not a limited edition, but also not part of the regular on-going range.

Formula 1 Alarm

Rounding out the new F1 range is the Alarm version. Of all the new series, this is the model most like the existing series (see below)

The Alarm F1 is available only with the Fixed stainless steel bezel and in two dial colours- Black (WAU111A) and White (WAU111B).


The Formula 1 series has always been a quartz-powered series and nothing changes here. For the first time, there are no ETA quartz movements in the range, with movements instead supplied by Ronda. Ronda was one of the movement suppliers for the very first Formula 1 series, and each of the movements in carried over the from the existing range:

  • Chronograph: RONDA 5040
  • Alarm: RONDA 4120
  • Watch: RONDA 6004

At this stage, there is no Calibre S version of the new series, which is interesting given that the Calibre S is TAG Heuer’s own in-house quartz movement.

TAG Heuer Formula 1- Price and Availability

The new Formula 1 range starts at CHF1200 in Switzerland for the black-bezel watch and extends up to CHF1800 for the Black and Red Chronograph. Stainless steel-bezel Chronographs are priced at CHF1500.

The new watches will be in the stores almost right away, so expect them to be available by the end of January/ early February.

Live Photos

To see more photos of the new F1 range, take a look in our special gallery here.

In Summary

The new TAG Heuer Formula 1 series is a very strong upgrade to the existing model range- a “Left-brain” design that keeps the Formula 1 in step with the TAG Heuer strategy of moving up-market and fits with the more elegant, sophisticated look of the rest of the range. Yet, there are enough design touches that hark back to the original to still be a Formula 1 watch. Whereas I find some of the models in the existing range to be a little “toy-like”, I’d be happy to wear any of the new designs.

Despite the successful re-design,  I wonder what a “Right Brain” re-design would have looked like: Composite cases (metal alloys? ceramics? plastics?), Chronometre-grade, thermo-compensated quartz movements (these feature a sensor that adjusts to variations in temperature ensuring superior accuracy) and bright colours. A watch that looks like no other model in the TAG Heuer range. Sure, something like this would be more expensive and appeal to fewer people, but maybe it would be a case of charging twice as much to sell half as many.

It will be interesting to see how the range evolves over the next couple of years. More than any other TAG Heuer watch, you associate the Formula 1 with colour- yet there are only three dial colours (white, black and anthracite) on offer here, and none of them move beyond the conservative end of the colour pallet. A blue dial Chronograph with white sub-dials and a blue ceramic bezel would look great.

Until then its certainly worth checking out the Formula 1 in person, because the changes are impressive and go beyond a simple re-style.



  • Stephen

    What a refreshing change the logo in the original tag colours are great this model should fly off the shelves

  • Philmo

    Well, as is my wont, I shan't hold back!

    If the design development intent is to move up-market then IMHO there is a need to reduce fussiness and complex tendencies.

    The focus must be on simpler lines and elegance, without losing the automotive flavour!

    Of this offering I think the CAU1114 is the most successful. But that's just me.

  • Its the Stealth with red bezel for me. Just enough to stand out, without shouting.

  • wynonie

    I was a bit cynical about the new line – but I have to say, I'm rather taken with the look of the latest versions. love the stealth and the red on black. OK, they are pricey for what they are but as fun, functional and sturdy sports watches – I think they have their place in the current TH line up.

  • Nebojsa

    Have to admit, owning a Grand Date F1 in Black, it is a big change, with new series F1 is more "mature" however, think that is why i don't like it soo much. I dono, might be better when i see it LIVE.

  • I was worried about the new design. Had worse prospects. But I think that improve previous versions. Also I think the most beautiful collections were prior to 2007.

  • Anonymouse

    Too many design changes in 5 years

  • Mark

    Big step forward in maturity and sophistication by using a bit of restraint and refined materials.

    Not that keen on the Indy 500 (shiny silver registers is a no-no in my book) but I like pretty much all the rest. CAU1115 on the steel/ceramic bracelet is the pick of the bunch for me. And I don't mind design changes if I think they're in the right direction.

  • Nathan

    White grande date looks nice. Clean and stylish.

  • DC

    Thanks for your comments everyone

    @Philmo, you find this design too fussy? Which parts?

    No doubt that the new design is more mature, elegant, etc…but is that what the F1 watch should be? Am seeing them tomorrow, so look forward to trying one on.


  • wilfreb

    are you telling me that they are no 44mm F1 anymore? if thats the case, thats a shame.

    42mm may be to small to many mens [including me]

    i own a 44mm F1 and the size is superb, as much as i love the new models i will not go that small.

    even my aquaracer 500m at 43mm feels kind of small.

  • Rodrigo Ferreira

    Hello everyone,

    I'm really suprised with the new Formula 1 timepieces. Very mature and professional, really looks like a F1 team work.

    Confratulations to Calibre 11, really useful and clear information.

    Please, anyone knows when will these 2012 F1 watches be arriving ADs in US ?

    Thanks !

  • Anuj Dewan

    The collection is awesome, specially the Chronographs. I am looking forward to know the price & see If I can add it to my collection

  • Lezduur

    just came home with the cau1110 with the ft6024 strap, beautiful.

  • DC

    Hi Lezduur- you have the new model already? Which country are you in?

    Wilfreb, yes, no more 44mm…at least for the moment. Many of the watches shown at SIHH seemed to be smaller…or at least not any larger. I think this is partly due to the fact that the Chinese markets prefer a smaller diameter.

    Thanks Rodrigo- no, not sure when these will hit the US, but I'd say its a matter of weeks not months.


  • ag1

    I agree with Wilfreb regarding the size of the new watches. Is this the start of a trend reversal. My recent TAG's are Carrera Day Date (43mm), Aquaracer 500M (43mm) and F1 Gulf (44mm). This might be a sign to end my run as my old (smaller) TAG's look dated compared to 43/44mm watches.

    I can only assume that the launch of the new is a foot in the door of 'larger' things still to come

  • loplop

    The move to more conservative size can be seen across the entire wristwatch market, and has been a trend for the last 2 years. IMO the collapse of the economy (which also killed ridiculous vehicles such as the HUMMER) turned the public's view from ever-increasing diameters of watches (look at me!) to smaller, more conservative timepieces (sorta look at me!). This F1 series hits at the perfect time, with the perfect size, and just the right amount of conservatism coupled with excellent detailing and small touches for the discerning buyer. I think it was a great move for TAG, although I do hope to see some historically-influenced colors added to the range. Thanks for the detailed look!

  • DC

    Hard to know what is going on with sizes- sure, you'll read some people saying that they're coming down, but I don't see them getting back to say the 36mm of the first Carrera re-edition.

    As well as the diameter, the other dimension of size that I hope changes is the thickness of the case. I used to have a 45mm Heuer Calculator, which didn't feel as large as a 41mm Carrera because the Carrera case is quite deep.

    Thanks for your comments Loplop- yes, some more colours please!


  • Randy_Torres

    I like the look, especially the dealer special order Black and Red Chronograph (CAU1117, but I'm sorry I can't see myself paying UDS $1k+ for a quartz watch, especially what looks to be a regular old Rhonda movement. They could have done better for that price.

  • bushhpd

    What are people's thoughts on the Stealth version?

    I saw it on my local dealer today, and looks great, but the hands are exceptionally difficult to read.

    Does anyone else think the same?

  • DC

    There is no doubt that a "Stealth" look watch is harder to read that a normal dial- you get a lot of black-on-black tones. Still, it's a lot easier to read than some of other Stealth watches- try Googling the Sinn U1 Stealth (and I love Sinn…)

    Still, whether it's too hard to read or not is really a personal judgment.



  • rajurama

    Its great that they are improving the quality of materials. However the F1 as David has mentioned is all about being a little loud with colors and size. The new F1 is tilting towards the link series and its getting classier, sorry for criticising but the new ceramic strap looks similar to that offered by Swatch irony collection! I hope they add more colors to the collection and the straps buckle is better and not the existing stamped style. Has anyone seen the clasp?

    Sidenote for David , your website and wealth of knowledge is too impressive! keep it up!

  • Adb

    The clasp on the steel/ceramic chrono at least is the same style as a rolex. Im not sure what those are called. I prefer the clasps on the carreras.

    I loved the look of the watch but its priced at just under 2,200 USD here in Dubai. Thats insane IMO

  • Aboo

    Bought the stealth today for £1300 at goldsmiths jewellers. Most amazing looking f1 model I've seen.

  • Kback

    I saw the new "CAU1115.BA0869" with the new and fresh ceramic/aluminium bezel and the steel/creamic bracelet at Bucherer in Berne.

    A very appealing timepiece, which I believe is the most attractive Formula 1 for this years collection. As I mentioned, the watch is beautiful designed and combines very elegant materials. The readability is great but there is a downside

    The watch is around 2000 CHF, which is rather pricy in my opinion. The old Formula 1 used to be around 1200 CHF. I ask myself, if there is anybody out there, who pays this price for a watch with quartz-movement.

    But beside that fact – it's truly a wonderful watch.

  • DC

    I asked TAG Heuer's CEO at the launch of these watches whether they would consider an automatic version of the Formula 1. The answer was not at the moment- his views was that sourcing automatic movements was tough given what is going on with ETA, and so that even if they wanted to launch a mechanical Formula it would be hard for TAG Heuer to access supply.

    Given limited supply, the idea was to use mechanical is the higher-end watches


  • James Lewis

    I have just bought today a 2nd hand Formula 1 Grande Date, White face the same as the above picture and love it. Formula 1 range needs to stay colourful,chunky and even childish-like not grown up in my opinion. It has to take turns with my Seamaster professional.

  • Farisha

    Bought the stealth today. Love the look…but yeah, it is a bit of a challenge telling time! Something to seriously consider before buying a watch .. next time. But i love it anyway!

  • DC

    Yeah, its not all about practicality…otherwise we'd all wear digital!!

  • Bogs

    Hi David,

    I'm inquiring the CAU1117.FT6024 in one of the AD here in Vancouver, Canada and they said that this model is not available here in North Vancouver.

    Is that true? Or they have to order it.



    • DC

      Sorry Bogs- it's not available in North America. Drop me an e-mail ( and I can put you in touch with an AD who can get the watch to you.


  • Javier

    I will disagree with including the calibre S in the group of "a little over-styled" as you mention in the article. I believe that watch is gorgeous with the use of the stripes and colors as being very tasteful without going over the top. Basically that is what the formula 1 series is about. Sad the calibre S movement did not appear in the 2012 lineup. It truely is a nice refreshing movement.

  • KeithRVA

    I bought the black face Alarm version of the 2012 F1. Cost roughly $1200 USD at a local jeweler. For entry level luxury, it is a very nice item, and it has been keeping extremely accurate time. I didn't think I would use the alarm function much, but it is so easy to use and convenient I find myself using it all the time. My cell phone is usually my alarm clock, but not so much anymore. I will probably need to replace the battery in my F1 sooner because of the frequent alarm usage, but it's all good!!

  • Niels Anderson

    WOW, these watches look super awesome. I recently bought the stealth and I have to say I am more than pleased with its beauty.

  • Lucien

    Great informational website Calibre11. My 2 cents worth on these new F1's, do not understand "stealth" models. Tag is practically last to come on board here with these reverse tell the time looks.

    Would you watch your TV one step up from complete darkness?. Drive with sunglasses at night & no headlights on? How do you go when someone asks the time wearing a stealth. Perhaps that's just my eyes getting some GST on them now.

    My other cent, Tag Heuer if you are reading this, why only 30min counter on these F1 chrono's. Olympic events, field sports, almost all vehicle racing events, "Formula One" races even compete for far longer times than 30mins. Go back to 12hr counter over a 30min counter.

    That's all I have to say about that.

    Great website, great community of watch enthusiasts.

  • A. L.

    Hi David,

    Just wondering, any news about the 2013 F1 Series? This years seems a bit late for the release, I’ve been looking around the web but couldn’t find anything yet. Last year you posted this article on the 15th, now we’re already the 21st and nothing posted anywhere, nor on Tag’s own website.

    Recently I bought a CAH7011 with the Calibre S movement. It’s my first Tag and I wanted a F1 model for a while. I was a bit disappointed at the 2012 models for 2 reasons, one the case size came down to 42 mm, and two there is no Calibre S model.

    To be honest, I actually prefer some of the more aggressive dials/bezels of the other F1 models over the CAH7011, but I find it hard to justify those prices for a regular quartz. Although the Calibre S movement is more a marketing gimmick than anything else, but if you consider the prices of the Links, Carrera, and SLR models with the same movement, then I think the F1 models with a Calibre S movement are a steal.

    I also agree with Javier, I think F1 models shouldn’t be so conservative, the 2012 models are a bit too classy for my taste. But if I have to pick one of the 2012, then it would be the stealth model.

    I hope for 2013 they will come out with another F1 model with the Calibre S movement, but I don’t think they will, because it will affect their sales of their higher end models using the same movement.

    P.S. Really great website, keep up the good work!

  • Hi A.L.

    The first launches of the year happen in the next couple of hours- I'm not expecting any new Formula 1 watches. The main launches happen in April =…but again, given that the new series is only 12 months old, the most that you could hope for might be a new colour or two.

    Agree with you on Calibre S- but more because I think that the Calibre S and other quartz movements are on their way out. I expect the next upgrade to the F1 series to include the move to mechanical movements.



  • A. L.

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the info, hopefully they will launch some new F1 models.

    I think you're right about the smaller diameters for the Chinese market. I bought the CAH7011 from an AD in Hong Kong, the sales representative told me that their 44 mm F1 models didn't sell very well, especially to the clients from Mainland China, which are the majority nowadays. People from HK actually like large diameter watches, but then the bigger market is still China. He also said most people want a mechanical movement at those prices.

    A mechanical F1 model would be nice, but then it wouldn't be entry level anymore. I think they have to be very careful at what to release for the F1 series. If a mechanical F1 model priced at too close to a Carrera while cheaper quartz F1 models are still available, then it may not do them any good.


  • Agree that they'd have to price a mechanical F1 carefully. For the record, I have no problem with quartz- actually, I think that a high-end Quartz movement suits the F1 better than mechanical, but I think I'm in the minority.


  • A. L.

    I think both mechanical and quartz can fit the F1 series, just depends on which F1 technology we compare it to. For sure in today’s F1, electronics play a huge part, so quartz can surely fit the precision required in F1. But then in a F1 cars, there are also plenty of mechanical parts. I find one technology from the recent F1 cars can be greatly compared to a mechanical movement is, the KERS. Energy being created by mechanical parts and kept for later use, kinda like the power reserve in mechanical movements.

    I think the Calibre S is a great movement for the F1 series, maybe Tag should change their strategy and make the Calibre S for the F1 series only. At the prices of their SLR for example, I believe most people would probably go for a full mechanical Carrera.

    I believe one problem with the Calibre S is that we cannot see any of the mechanical parts moving like a mechanical movement. I mean the idea of “hybrid” is certainly great, especially in today’s world. But people seem to dig seeing moving parts on a watch (I think Rolex is probably the only brand that can get away with it). But I think if Tag wants to sell the Calibre S in the higher price range, then they should find a way to show some moving parts on the Calibre S, especially when they claim to have no fewer than 250 mechanical components.

  • A. L

    Hi David,

    I take back my comments about a mechanical movement comparing to the F1 KERS technology, haha forgive my ignorance! I think KERS can be compared to an autoquartz (or Seiko’s Kinetic) instead, which I’ve just learned about recently.

    Quite interesting to learn that there are actually more than 2 types of movements. I just learned about autoquartz and mecaquartz when I started looking for information on the Calibre S. I read your review on the Calibre S, very informative. Although the Calibre S doesn’t exactly belong to either autoquartz or mecaquartz, it’s a unique type on its own.

    I also want to take back my comment about the Calibre S being just a marketing gimmick. The more I read about the movement, the more I appreciate it. I hope Tag will continue on using this movement. But I still stand on my opinion about the idea of showing some moving parts, such as gears or wheels, which I believe will definitely help selling this movement.


  • Chris

    There is no doubt that the F1 line of watches contribute a significant amount of profit to the TAG brand. However, as a TAG enthusiast I cannot help but feel the F1s also lower the value and prestige of the brand. The line is often seen as overpriced common quartz watches, perhaps there is scope to do what Bulova is doing with their Precisionist line, it may just be another quartz but it is quoted as the most accurate quartz on the market today, Most watch buyers may not care so much about the accuracy of their watches but at least it has the unique selling point of having a sweeping send hand, something that could be a great selling point to the F1 to differentiate itself from all the other quartz watches on the market, which simply ticks along just like all common quartz.

  • Hi Chris, I agree.

    The F1 line is evolving. As I've mentioned in a few articles, I think the next series will be mechanical only- no more quartz.

    As I've also said elsewhere, I think this is a mistake. I would keen the F1 as a quartz watch, but as a high-end quartz (HEQ). What about a radio-controlled atomic quartz? Quartz doesn't have to be cheap.

    But, I'm in the minority…the market sees a simple 40 year old mechanical movement as superior to the latest HEQ


  • KJ7

    Hi David,

    I noticed on TAG Heuer website there a new F1 model CAU1119.

    Interestingly, at the 6 o'clock counter, instead of the wordings "TAG Heuer Formula 1", it states "TAG Heuer Moto Racing"!

    Is this the first move to sync F1 and Indy into one single series?

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated.



    • Yep…I have a review of that one coming next week. Stay tuned!

  • KJ7

    Great…Thanks David!

    Waiting in anticipation, as always 🙂

  • john partridge

    Hi David,
    I am looking at a red bezel formula one. Problem is I don't like the clasp (built to price point) which is really horrid. I was wondering if you knew of anywhere I could get either :-
    a bracelet in black or another strap with a better clasp.

    I have a 300 slr which is awesome but I need another for week-ends and there is a deal on the watch which looks attractive.


  • Hi John. Not sure, but I would have thought that there are some Carrera straps that would fit? Worth checking out with a Dealer.


  • Andreas

    would love to own a Tag once in my life such a stylish status symbol.good luck everybody.