Hands on Review- 2011 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Series

The Formula 1 series gets a new look for 2011- four new designs with three different quartz movements.

The Formula 1 watch was the first watch developed by TAG Heuer after the change of ownership in 1985. Most of the early TH range was made up of Heuer-developed watches with the new logo, but the Formula 1 arrived in 1986 followed by the S/el in 1987 as the paths between the old Heuer and the new TAG Heuer began to diverge.

The Formula 1 was a watch for the ages- new, low-cost materials (notably, Fibreglass), a bright array of colours (à la Swatch) and a new budget price ($145 in the US). The Formula 1 series brought TH a new customer base and was a smash hit, with more than 3 million being sold between 1986 and 2000 when the line was discontinued.

In 2004 the Formula 1 was totally re-designed and re-launched with Kimi Raikkonen as the face of the new watch. The new 2004 series was a much larger watch (basic watch was 40mm versus 37mm) and significantly stepped up the quality of materials- out went the plastic bezel and mineral glass, in came a steel bezel coated in titanium carbide and a sapphire crystal.

Since 2004 the refreshed Formula 1 series has been tweaked a few times- many models today have lost the polyurethane “bumper” of the original 2004 models- and given that the model line is more than seven years old, you can expect a new Formula 1 series in the next 12-18 months. But until then, we have the updated 2011 range.

I’ve shown photos of each of these watches before, but this is the first time that I’ve been able to borrow the watches to see what they are like in the flesh.

Formula 1 Gulf Edition

Probably the biggest surprise of the 2011 F1 line is this Gulf Edition model- the first time that the Gulf brand has been used on anything other than a Monaco.

The Formula 1 Gulf is based on the Grande Date F1 and so uses a 44mm case and is powered by a Ronda 6004B Quartz movement. The watch is available on either a rubber strap, or the bracelet that you see here.

While I think that the Gulf Monaco is a little played out, the stripes do look cool on the F1 and fit well with the rest of the design. I like that the bezel echoes the shape of the original series, but is a step up in quality. The only part of the design that I’m not sure about is the black crown guards, which¬† sit almost like a “flying buttress”- a standard integrated steel guard would look better in my view.

Formula 1 Gulf Edition- Pricing and Availability

Lets get the bad news out of the way first- as I understand it, the F1 Gulf won’t be available in the US, Spain or Portugal. For other markets, expect the watch to be available in Q4 2011, with a price of around A$1300 in Australia.

Formula 1 24 Calibre S

Next up is another striped F1- this time a Calibre S Chronograph.

This is the first time that I’ve reviewed any watch with the Calibre S movement- and does offer a very interesting alternative to a standard quartz movement. Pressing the crown changes to the watch to from Time/ Date mode to Chronograph mode, with the hands moving to the positions that you see above. As you press the top Chrono. button to start timing, you only see the central second hand move. When you press the top button again top stop timing, the two sub-dial hands move into place to indicate the 1/10th of a second (left-hand register) and 1/100th of a second (right register).

When the watch is in Time mode, the two registers show the date, with a retrograde perpetual calendar. By its nature the Calibre S is a quasi-retrograde date function (“Retrograde” usually means that instead of a date wheel completing a full 360 Degree rotation, it instead goes through 180 degrees and then flies back) and “Perpetual” means that the calendar takes into account the days of each month, including leap years.

  • wynonie

    Great review as ever DC. I love the Formula 1 range: unpretentious, functional and tough. Great for the gym and the beach and the perfect watch to take on holiday. Agree with you on this latest selection, the orange is hard to beat.

  • tony8911

    Great article DC. Met a guy at Le Mans this year who was wearing an original F1 red strap and case with a white dial. Retro cool.

    The poly bumper on mune and the crown guards are looking a bit tatty now. A little side note for you. The bezel on my '04 model came off and trying to replace it I snapped the retaining spring. Took it back to the original shop I'd bought it from with about 3 wks left on the warranty. LMVH actually replaced the watch, no questions. How's that for sevice?

    Anyway my choice on the above would be the Gulf, or the oeange on black.

  • Jan

    Hi David!

    Interesting article as always.

    Are you sure the crownguards are plastic. The bezel is metal as far as I know. Although they look like plastic.

    Cheers Jan

  • DC

    Thanks for the comments Gents.

    I did have one of the early 1990s F1 Chronographs- a cool looking watch, but it did feel very small by today's standards.

    Apparently the bumper was Kimi's idea.

    Hi Jan- good to hear from you. Yes, the bezel is certainly steel as is the crown. The spec sheet doesn't say what material the guards are made from, but talked about polyurethane "bumpers", which I took to mean on both sides.

    I've changed the text to a more general comment and will see what I can find.


  • Himawan

    Hi David,

    Great review! Love the simplest one with black dial and orange numbers. Perfect for everyday use. But never like the rubber strap. would prefer something more subtle like the one in Aquaracer 500 M without that big "TAG-Heuer" on the strap.


  • DC

    Thanks Himawan- my favourite rubber strap is the one that Sinn use on the U1…simple smooth finish.


  • olivier

    black orange looking nice! gtrz Olivier

  • sergio gimenez toro

    is certainly one of the most representative watches tag heuer, i had a wide range and my model is just the latest cah1010.ba0854 grande date.


    sergio guillermo gimenez toro

  • DC

    Cheers Sergio

  • Steve Barylick

    I have a circa 1986 TH Formula 1 watch. The original rubber watch band broke and I'm looking for an original rubber TH band, preferably in the dark blue, black or red… I'll also consider white, or light blue.

    Thank for any help.

  • DC

    Hi Steve- take a look here:



  • tedcarpenter77

    My Crown fell out for my Formula 1 CAH7011 series, and I don't know the specs to buy the replacement crown. Can someone tell me the specs?


  • DC

    Hi Ted- sorry, that's a little too specific for me. Best to check with a Dealer.



  • Heartbreak

    Great review…I bought the orange on black with the metal strap and dive extension about 6 months ago. It's a great looking watch, the strap is the most comfortable strap I've had on a watch. Mountain biking, mountain rambling, running and golf. It withstands everything I throw at it. The ultimate everyday watch without being too bold. My other watch is a submariner 116610lv but that now hardly gets out of the box. Worth every penny.

    • DC

      Sounds like you're using it for exactly what it was designed for! Enjoy.