First Look: TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 Automatic

While there have been several generations of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 series since its launch in 1986, there has been one constant: Quartz. In fact, the spirit of the original series was based around low-cost materials (Fibreglass case, resin strap, simple sales packaging), bright colours and like the original Swatch watches of the 1980s was proudly quartz. A mechanical movement would have made no sense for either watch, given their positioning.

As the Formula 1 series has grown up, the tide has turned against quartz, with the majority of watch buyers today preferring mechanical movements.

And so twenty-seven years after the original Formula 1 series was launched, we now have the 2013 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16- the first men’s automatic Formula 1 (yes, the Formula 1 Lady series got there first) is with us.


CAU2011.BA0873_TAG_HEUER_FORMULA_1_CALIBRE_16_CHRONOGRAPH_PACKSHOT_HD_2013 - Version 2Naturally, the mechanical F1 shares its style with its quartz brother, but with a few important differences. The most notable being size, with  the Calibre 16 model stretching the tape to 44mm, 2mm larger than the current range.

Of course, the dial layout changes to the traditional Calibre 16 “12-6-9” layout and there is a new design for the central Chronograph hand, which you see above. For the first time, the design has the TAG Heuer logo incorporated into the base of the hand (a nice touch!), and the hand is finished in polished steel (with a red-tip, depending on model) as against the all-red Chronograph hand on the quartz Chronograph.

CAU2011.BA0873_TAG_HEUER_FORMULA_1_CALIBRE_16_CHRONOGRAPH_PACKSHOT_HD_2013 - Version 3The other colour design flourish to note is the coloured finish on the two Chronograph pushers and Crown- again a style unique to the mechanical Formula 1. Perhaps this compensates for the loss of the colour TAG Heuer logo- there was a time when quartz TAG Heuer models used the color logo, while the automatic models uses a monochrome logo.

Finally, while the quartz Chronograph (below) has a minuterie scale on the edge of the dial (below), the Calibre 16 model offers this scale on an inner bezel.

CAU1112.BA0858 THF1 PACKSHOT HD 2012


TAG_Heuer_Calibre_16As regular readers will know, the TAG Heuer Calibre 16 typically denotes the Valjoux/ ETA 7750 movement.

In the last 2 years, TAG Heuer has reacted to the shortage of movement supply coming from ETA (part of Swatch Group), by also using the Sellita SW-500. The Sellita is essentially the same movement as the ETA (being itself a cloned 7750), and TAG Heuer uses these two movements interchangeably now as the Calibre 16.

Formula 1 Steel & Ceramic- CAU2011

CAU2011.BA0873_TAG_HEUER_FORMULA_1_CALIBRE_16_CHRONOGRAPH_PACKSHOT_HD_2013There are three models offered at launch- the first being a Steel & Ceramic model (Ceramic used for the bezel and the bricks in the bracelet). Reference CAU2011, the watch has a starburst anthracite dial and Red flourishes on the hands, Chronograph pushers and crown.

Formula 1 Steel & Ceramic- CAU2010

CAU2010.BA0873_TAG_HEUER_FORMULA_1_CALIBRE_16_CHRONOGRAPH_PACKSHOT__2013The second model is essentially the same as the model above- but without the Red finishing. Reference CAU2010  has a monochrome finish, with Black detailing on the Crown and Pushers.

Formula 1 Titanium Carbide- CAU2012

CAU2012.FT6038The sporty end of the range is represented by this model, which has a steel case coated with titanium carbide.

The Black case and ceramic bezel are contrasted by the bright Orange details on the dial and inner-bezel. The watch is much more in keeping with the bold and colourful approach of the original Formula 1 series, and makes a nice change from the more classical designs of the Steel & Ceramic models.

TAG Heuer F1 Calibre 16

This version is available only a new-design rubber strap.

Formula 1 automatic

Pricing and Availability


The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 Chronograph models are on sale from June 2013, depending on market.

Pricing in Switzerland is around CHF3,000 (depending on model), a premium of around CHF1,000 over the equivalent quartz models.

And now for the review…

 We’ve now had a chance to get our hands on the Calibre 16 Formula 1- check out the detailed review + photos

FORMULA 1 Calibre 16 Chronograph Review



Live Photos thanks to Jeff Go

  • kasra

    great news and really great design.
    been checking this site twice a day since you said a mechanical F1 is coming!
    I also would like to see a complete steel version on the old rubber, kinda has a Hublot blood in its veins.

  • Agree Kasra. What do you think about the ceramic bricks? Not sure if they're for me…maybe that's what you are thinking as well given your comments on a steel version.

    Depending on the lugs, you may just be able to swap in a standard Formula 1 series bracelet.


    • kasra

      these ceramic bricks might actually look good on these retouched photos but under day light and in reality I prefer the original monochrome feelings of the steel bracelet.
      because of the new size it looks like we can't use the more beautiful bracelet or the more sporty current rubber strap though.

      • Michael

        I have looked at the F1 quartz with ceramic strap and think it looks very stylish in the flesh!

  • Henry

    I love the dashes of Red on the CAU2011. The only thing that puts me off the Formula 1 range is the quality of the strap. I hope this feels different because its a great looking watch

  • Tom

    Rushed out to the jewellers to order the carbide version this morning – cannot wait and got discount on the RRP.

    I love the contrast of black and tangerine – a nice homage to the very popular 2007/8? orange faced F1.

    • Michael

      How much discount did you get? Which model did you go for?

  • Himawan

    Love it. Formula 1 got more serious with mechanical movement. Do you think it’s still affordable for its market segment David? What is the strategy?

  • Michael

    Hi David. I have been checking every day since the news of an mechanicla F1 and I think it's been worth the wait! I'm looking at buying a Blue Monaco (modern version) and was going to buy the F1 ceramic quartz which I really like the look of in the flesh.

    However I think I will now go for one of these new ones along with the Monaco. Is the 44mm a lot bigger on the wrist? Also I'm torn between the monochrome ceramic and the CAU 2010 and the one with red CAU2011! Which would you go for David? I liked the original ceramic F1 which was all monochrome so I'm leaning towards that.

    Also is the strap the same oas on the quartz f1 ceramic?

    Thanks, Michael

  • Michael

    Edit – I meant I'm torn between the CAU2010 and the CAU2011. Black or red?! Hmm choices!!!

  • Michael

    I also see all Tag prices have gone up again here in the UK!! The Monaco is now £5600! Goldsmiths have the CAU2011 for £2100 but don't have the CAU2010 🙁

  • Tom


    I pre-ordered for £1,700. This was based upon Baselworld release catalogue RRP of £1995. If there is a suggestion that the RRP may be more, I feel even better about it.

    I have gone for the black/orange. I desperately wanted the Monaco ACM with orange strap inner bit could not talk myself into spending the £ – this one was much easier to justify along the lines of ‘first ever mechanical F1 etc etc’

    • Michael

      You got a good price! Beaverbrooks and Goldsmiths have them listed at £2100! They are selling the quartz F1 ceramic for £1600 so you definitely got a good price! Im still not sure if to o for all monochrome or red tips!

  • George C.

    That's a great re-design.

  • Seems like the verdict is very positive on this one. I was at the TAG Heuer boutique in Melbourne yesterday and saw that they had a couple of the models in stock.

    With the experience of trial and error, 44mm is too big for me, so I wouldn't go for one…but I know there are regulars here who wouldn't touch a dainty 42mm case!

    The strategy? I think that TAG is doing the smart business option- the market expects mechanical movements. I've written a couple of times that I'd be more likely to buy a High-end Quartz TAG Heuer (a new Microtimer?) than a mechanical F1. But hey, I'm probably in the minority!!


  • George C.

    David, are they utilizing a screw down crown as in the Quartz version of the F1s

  • Yes George- screw-in crown.


  • terpits

    Wow. These are nice. I have the CAU1110 and I have a love/hate thing going with the number 12.

  • Mark

    Hi David. We have these up here in QLD as well through Wallace Bishop Jewellers. I understand what you mean about a high end quartz but what about longevity. One the circuit goes and they are out of parts do you dump your $3000 quartz watch in the bin? At least with a mechanical they can always be restored. Mind you, I wouldn’t spend $3000 on a F1 when I could hold off a little longer for a $5500 1887. But maybe that’s just me…

  • Tom

    Just an update on my previous post – my watch has arrived.

    The first thing to note is that it does not feel or look too big. I have really small wrists and it is fine. Secondly, the orange colouring is more orange than the picture in this article. The picture on the Tag website is far more representative.

    • Michael

      Hi Tom

      I have yet to see one in the flesh and I have small wrists so been a bit worried about that! Any chance of sending a pic to please.

      Also where did you order it from and how much did you get it for? I'm trying to decide between the black and red!



  • Jeff

    I’m not sure I agree with the longevity comments..
    Tag quartzes are likely to last many many years…they are built solid..if the circuitry burns out…then what happens?…all tag watches are supposed to.go in for maintenance anyways every 3 years or so…depending on wear and tear…
    After everything I have read…tag built its reputation on quartz technology…their auto watch line is not bad as well…bottom line…both are built to last many many Years..

  • Agree Jeff- I wouldn't worry about longevity. I managed to repair my early 1980s quartz Heuer 1000m when it broke down. TAG Heuer do support their watches for 20 years- and I can't believe there will be any problems finding movements another 20 years after that.

    You can still buy NOS/ Mint 955.112/114 quartz ETA movements.

    Some mechanical movements have their own problems- I get a few e-mails from people with problems fixing an LWO283 for example.


  • I think the size is perfect, not sure how I feel about price though..

  • George C

    so i saw one of these in the flesh but was disappointed to see that the bezel is fixed and could not be rotated? why would TAG Heuer avoid such a functional feature in the watch? I guessi must be old, i love averaging vehicle speeds, but i know it can be done with a fixed bezel but you need to record the value each time on paper, i just think rotating bezels are nice especially tachy but i guess it’sand old thing of the past?

    • Jeff

      Hi George,
      I do agree, I was somewhat surprised, not too much, to not see a rotating bezel….but, the style and function of the new F1's more than make up for it. Obviiously, probably wont use it for diving long times, but still can be as it does have timers, etc, built into it/

      I have the CAU1117 besides the Calibre 16 F1 Auto…..and their styling and function more than make up for the lack of rotating bezels…

  • Not sure George- many of the Carrera Chronos have a fixed bezel- but agree with you that there is more functionality with the rotating version.

  • Dean Nash

    The watch looks amazing. Love the ceramic bricks and the red detailing. What is the thickness of the case? 44mm width is a good move I think.

  • Dean, the case is 15.2mm thick. For comparison, the quartz chronograph is 11.9mm.


  • Dean Nash

    Im thinking of buying the tag carrera 1887 43mm in ceramic with anthracite dial, do you think the f1 ceramic brick bracelet would fit on the carrera? Would love to match the ceramic bezal with the ceramic bricks on the f1 bracelet.

  • Think that will be hard Dean. Both are 20mm lugs, but the end pieces on the Carrera bracelet are curved- I think they're flat for the Formula 1.

    A dealer should be able to confirm for you.

  • Brad

    About time. I have always appeciated Tag Heuer for the fact they make mechanical watches with some dependability and great looks all while allowing most to afford them. The main problem I’ve had with them is the Formula 1 line and the whole quartz scheme. $1,500 for a quartz driven watch is ridiculous and for a company like Tag Heuer who claim to be at the forefront of Swiss watch making I just find it awful. Then to throw such a prestigious racing circuit into the mix as what’s been 25 plus years as tag’s lesser quartz line was a sheer slap in the face if you ask me. But hey, finally a mechanical movement in what’s really always been a good looking collection in formula 1. Something everyone associated with Tag as well as formula 1 racing should be proud of. As long as they keep it in the same price range. Paying the same money for a formula 1 automatic as one would say a few of the other collections tag offer would be yet another slap in the face. This time the customers being the ones with the hand print along their faces. Lets keep this line simple and good looking yet ramaining affordable to those who want a nice Swiss mechanical watch. Do away completely with the quartz movements. Become the true watch legend you are. Accommodate all parties and allow everyone who wants to own a mechanical tag heuer. Neck up, Omega. Please cut the $2,500 quartz crap. Leave the quartz world to Movado and those who’d rather have a big diamond on their 12 and not care anything about how the movement works. I see a change in the world of time. About time. Up until this article I would talk folks into straying away from the formula 1 line and venture over into German watch making. It seems lately the Germans care more about what’s inside than making money unlike some of these Swiss companies. But hey, maybe Tag Heuer has a revolution on their mind. The revolution of putting quality Swiss mechanical time pieces on the arms of not only the Wall Street billionaire but to the hard working everyday family man who is just as important to those around him. I sure hope this thing doesn’t have a crazy price after all this nonsense I just typed. Cool article though. Keep em coming

  • Brad

    What is stopping one of these ‘famous’ watch makers in becoming a company who use all the finest materials and designs in creating an in house movement and sliding it into a steel or titanium case and constructing it with precision yet selling it in the price range of the majority of time piece enthusiasts? It just bewilders me honestly. Rolex maintains that status of greatness throughout the world to those who know nothing about watches. I hear all this talk of how fabulous Patek Philippe is these days and yes they make a good movement, but outside of a movement what’s so special about it? Nearly everyone of their designs come in some sort of gold, white gold, or platinum. Of course the high price per item. Then when they do offer a stainless steel version they and their followers go off on some, “well the movement is so dang good” kind of crap and it just irks me. Give me a break… I can understand a platinum watch for $15-20k. I can’t understand the same watch, same movement only a ss case still reaching 13k. Sure they’ve sunk who knows how much in R&D on crafting specific movements, but why? What I’m harping over one could still do that every year all the while offering a line of $20k in housed movement watches. But the movement you scraped 10-15 years ago for this new thing.. Well where is that movement? And if its so pointless why not throw it in a ss line of watches and since you’ve already gotten it figured out offer it for $2,500 and allow everyone who can to own that great time piece. The watch industry needs to stop acting like the automotive industry and stick to what it was founded on. Movements that last a lifetime. I love new creations as much as anyone, but when old designs are scrapped based on making money alone then it becomes an issue for me. If brands like Patek, Audemars, etc really do produce the best time pieces then prove it by not only creating new exciting instruments but by creating a ridiculously good movement for less so the people who really care about watches can afford it. To me someone saying hey, the movement in this $2,500 watch is as good if not better than any movement ever created by anyone then I’d lay my head down at night with the thought of you know what? Those guys really do make the best of the best. It doesn’t have to be a 100,000 pc a year thing. Make 2,000 of a style then change it based on the same movement. But when I read the watch snob blog and he’s claiming there’s no watch less than $10k worth buying I have to claim bs. Once you’ve created something special it takes no more money to perfect or build on. It works. It’s great. The money has been spent. So keep making the freaking thing and allow everyone to enjoy them. I know if I were a watch maker I’d feel my job was complete if a specific in house movement I created 50 years prior and 5,000 new people a year got one and after those 50 years however many people still had it working just fine. Now that would be the best watch maker on earth. But hey, we live in a world where everyone has to have something new, flashy and expensive.

  • Hi Brad, some interesting thoughts. As you would have read, I am probably in the other camp when it comes to the F1. I'd like to see it remain quartz only, but to upgrade the quartz movements- don't get me wrong, I know that popular opinion isn't with me on this one!

    I am working on a review of the new F1 series- and I have to say that its a big step up. I like the watch a lot more than I thought that I would, so maybe there is a niche for the F1 as an alternative to the Aquaracer, rather than simply being the entry-level model.

    I get your point on prices- part of the reason that prices have gone up is because "the market" is now demanding in-house movements, meaning that a lot of the economies of scale of everyone using ETA has gone. Of course, the other factor in increasing prices is that people are willing to pay those higher prices!


    P.S Ignore the watch snob- it can be/ used to be a good read, but its not meant to be serious….