The partnership between TAG Heuer and Ayrton Senna has been formally revived this week with the launch of four new watches bearing Senna’s name- two Carreras and two Formula 1s. The relationship between TAG Heuer and the legendary Formula 1 triple World Champion dates back to 1988 when Senna first joined the McLaren Formula 1 team, which at the time was 50% owned by TAG, the owners of TAG Heuer.
Senna and TAG Heuer- A Brief History
Senna’s relationship with TAG Heuer began informally in 1988, when he joined the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 team. Not only did TAG (the parent company) own 50% of McLaren, but Ron Dennis of McLaren was a shareholder in TAG Heuer.
Senna wore both a 6000 series and a S/el Digital/ Analogue Chronograph, both of which you can see here. At this time there were no Senna editions- these didn’t begin until he left McLaren in 1994. As we now know, the deal signed in April 1994 between TAG Heuer and Ayrton Senna to create a limited edition 6000 series with his name was likely the last commercial deal signed by Senna before he died on 1 May that same year. After a period of reflection on what to do with the finished watch, TAG Heuer released the 6000 Senna later that year, with a share of profits donated to the Senna Foundation. In all, there were four series of Senna Editions released. You can read an in-depth review of each of these watches here.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Ayrton Senna Edition
First up in the 2015 Senna collection we have a pair of Formula 1 quartz chronographs- one with red highlights and the other with flashes of yellow and green. The Senna branding is limited to the bezel, case back and 3 o’clock register, as the rendered image below shows.
TAG Heuer Legends Bracelet
The new Senna watches comes on what we’d currently call the the traditional Link bracelet, despite the fact that they’re not Link watches. So, to avoid confusion between the Link bracelet and the Link series, TAG Heuer now calls the Link bracelet the “Legends” bracelet, which it will offer on several models in its range, including (but not limited to) the Link series.
The rationale is that the majority of the original 1990’s Senna Limited Edition watches were Links, as well as this series being Senna’s preferred model (called the S/el back in Senna’s day). We can guess that TAG Heuer wanted to keep this link (no pun) with the past, but base the new watches on the sporty Carrera and Formula 1 models rather than the Link series, which is now positioned as more of a dress watch.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph Senna Edition- CAZ1013
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph Senna Edition- CAZ1012
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Ayrton Senna Edition
The second set of Senna models is this pair of Calibre 16 Carreras, one in stainless steel and the other in titanium. But again you might ask…why is this a Carrera? It doesn’t have the traditional Carrera case! Isn’t this a Link series watch?
Well, yes and no. As we’ve explained above, it does have the Legends bracelet, but the case is not from a Link series, but rather it borrows the case from a different current TAG Heuer watch: the Grand Carrera. Below is a composite image of the Grand Carrera (top) superimposed over the Senna Carrera (bottom)
Specifically, the Senna Carrera uses the same case as the Grand Carrera Calibre 36, including the bezel, crown and pushers. The only change is that the Senna edition Carrera is 44mm, 1mm larger than the Grand Carrera Calibre 36.
Given we haven’t seen a new Grand Carrera model for seven years, it probably makes sense to move away from the Grand Carrera name, which leaves Carrera as the only “logical” choice, even if it needs some explanation. On the positive side, having a special edition watch that is not in the traditional Carrera case is a positive.
Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph Senna Edition Steel- CBB2010
The second model has a flat black dial to match the matte titanium-carbide coated titanium case. This model is the only one to be offered with a rubber strap.
Geneva Motorshow- Senna and McLaren
The launch of the new watches is the cumulation of events TAG Heuer has staged in 2015 to both recognise the 30th anniversary of the relationship with McLaren and its reuniting with Senna. Below are a few photos from the 2015 Geneva Motorshow, where Senna’s McLaren was on display.
Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona Launch
On May 7, TAG Heuer held an event before the 2015 Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix to announce the new watches and show off a video featuring McLaren drivers Alonso and Button duelling in the 1988 and 2015 McLaren-Hondas. You can check out the video below, which includes a hologram image of Senna.
Price and Availability- 2015 Senna Editions
While we don’t yet have dates on availability, expect the watches to be in the stores in a matter of weeks rather than months. The Formula 1 Senna watches are priced at US$1,750 in the US, while the steel Carrera Senna Edition is priced at US$4,150- expect a small premium for the Titanium model.
Live Steel Carrera Senna Photos by Time+Tide Images