We have a new mechanical Formula 1 for 2017, with a trio of new Calibre 6 models. The new Formula Calibre 6 is a subtle update to the model first introduced in 2014, with an updated dial, bezel and a larger case marking out the new comer. And in keeping with TAG Heuer’s commitment to aggressive pricing, the newest Formula 1 is cheaper today than the previous model was at launch 2 years ago. Progress without the price.
The Calibre 6 range consists of three different colour options- white, black and starburst blue, the latter of which we did not have the chance to review. But we did get our hands on the new monochrome duo to bring you the newest Formula 1 watch from every angle.
2014 Formula 1 Calibre 6
When TAG Heuer began to expand the range of mechanical Formula 1s in 2014, one of the new watches launched was the Calibre 6 family that you see above. Each sporting a 41mm steel case, the watches were on sale for only a few months before being replaced by the Calibre 5- the only difference between the two being that the Calibre 6 movement displays running seconds on a small sub-dial at 6 o’clock, while the Calibre 5 has a traditional seconds hand fixed on the centre stem with the hours and minutes hand.
So what’s new with the 2017 model?
- Contrasting white/ black minuterie flange replaces dial-coloured flange
- Contrasting white/ black 6 o’clock sub-dial ring replaces dial coloured ring
- 5 minute interval on bezel instead of 10 minute intervals
- Updated TAG Heuer logo
- “Formula 1” text moved from below TAG Heuer shield
- 43mm vs. 41mm case size
That may look like a small set of changes, but the use of contrasting colours on the inner flange and the sub-dial give the dial a much sportier feel in our view. This is not the usual Formula 1 look and so helps give the new arrivals a point of distinction in a crowded range.
The watch uses the standard Formula 1 case, which nows seems to be at 43mm. TAG Heuer always used to prefer a 3-hand watch around the 41mm mark, with the chronograph being 43-44mm, but the “bigger is better” mantra has seen even the 3-hand watches upsized. While we’re sure that the sales data bears this out as the right decision, we feel it’s a shame to not have a strong offering in smaller case sizes- and 41mm is hardly “small”.
The stainless steel case has a combination of polished and brushed finishes- polished around the side of the case, with a brushed upper case.
The dial is what really makes this watch- we love the contrasting flange and sub-dial ring, being reminiscent of the 2016 Formula 1 Red Bull Edition. Given the popularity of “Panda” and “Reverse” Panda chronographs, the dial on the 2017 Calibre 6 takes that idea and applies it to a 3-hand watch, albeit one with a “small seconds” sub-dial.
We also like the restrained use of red highlights- left only to the tip of the seconds hand and the small red triangle on the minuterie flange- there was a period when TAG Heuer would add too many flashes of colour, or detail on the dial, but we like the less is more approach on the 2017 range.
One question we often get about the Formula 1 is why the watches have the TAG Heuer logo on the dial, as well as “TAG Heuer” text? No other model in the TAG Heuer range does this. The reason is simple- a few years ago, Bernie Ecclestone began to get irritated that TAG Heuer was selling a “Formula 1” watch, even though it no longer had any formal (i.e. paying!) association with the sport. The problem for Bernie is that The Formula 1 watch had been using that name for more than 20 years. So the compromise was that the watch would always be called “TAG Heuer Formula 1” and not just “Formula 1”. Makes sense to keep the peace, even if it a little clumsy.
Caseback and Movement
The Calibre 6 trio all use the same steel caseback as the rest of the Formula 1 family- a simple design with a chequered flag pattern dominating the look.
As if often the case these days, it’s hard to be 100% definitive about which movement is inside the watch. TAG Heuer use two basically identical movements as the Calibre 6- either the ETA 2895-2 or the SW 260-1, the latter being effectively a clone of the ETA original made by Sellita. But while the two movements are “basically” the same, there are a few differences, such as:
- Diameter: 26.2mm (ETA) vs 26.0mm (Sellita)
- Rubies: 27 (ETA) vs. 31 (Sellita)
Given TAG Heuer’s increasing use of Sellita calibres, our guess is that it’s a SW 260-1 that powers the newest Formula 1.
Formula 1 WAZ2012- Black Dial
Formula 1 WAZ2013- White Dial
Formula 1 WAZ2014- Blue Dial
The third model is the one that we haven’t shown you in much detail here- the starburst blue metallic dial model. We’re a sucker for a blue dial, and no-one does it better than TAG Heuer who make some of the best looking blue-dial watches on the market today- irrespective of the price. We can’t wait to see the blue model in the metal, because it looks fantastic in the official image.
On the Wrist
Price and Availability
The 2017 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6 watches are priced at USD1700, or CHF1600 in Switzerland (and if you’re in Australia, A$2200). As we told you at the start of the article, the previous model was launched at USD1800 back in 2014, so given that watch prices in general have continued to increase combined with the fact we prefer the 2017 model to the 2014 watch, it’s hard to argue with the value of the new Formula 1. At that price point, you’d expect quartz, but you get a mechanical movement.
The sporty looks of the F1 give it a clear difference to other sub-$2000 mechanical TAG Heuers, such as the Aquaracers, and we think this will be one of the best-sellers in the TAG Heuer range.