You never know when you will need to hit the race track next, but whenever you do, make sure you are equipped with a proper chronograph. And what’s better than strapping a colorful, super-sporty one like the new Tag Heuer Formula 1 Chronographs to your wrist? These watches come in three vibrant colors and sport all of the useful features you’ll need. They’re also designed to be used in the cockpit while zooming past the pitstop. Perhaps you would want something that looks a bit more traditional, or perhaps you are feeling bold and want something that pops. Regardless of your preference, the new Tag Heuer Formula 1 Chronographs make a solid case for themselves, as we will see below.
TAG Heuer is the kind of brand we all know about but perhaps have not experienced in the metal. I haven’t, but I have been keeping an eye on the Swiss brand’s recent releases. The current TAG Heuer catalog includes five major collections — the Carrera, Aquaracer, Monaco, Autavia, and lastly, the Formula 1. I wrote about the Monaco Dark Lord not too long ago, and Lex wrote about the brand’s iconic Carrera chronograph. Although TAG Heuer’s designs do not resonate equally positively with everyone, perhaps we can agree that they do have a certain allure. The new F1 Chronographs definitely come with a certain swagger that fits their intended environment — the race track. So let’s find out what makes them stand out! The Formula 1 line of watches debuted in 1986 after Heuer (the original iteration of the brand) was acquired by Techniques d’Avant Garde, aka TAG. With the latter manufacturing high-precision components for planes and race cars, it only made sense to upgrade the brand’s sports collections. The new partnership saw the emergence of iconic lines like the Formula 1 that provided various sizes, colors, and technologies. Famous F1 racers such as Ayrton Senna became ambassadors for the brand and the collection. Over the past three-and-a-half decades, TAG Heuer has released countless versions of the F1-inspired chronographs, ranging from very flashy to more serious ones. While many have used straightforward quartz movements, others have used economical or even high-end mechanical calibers. The new releases fit within the more affordable spectrum of the F1 collection. This makes sense given the fact that they use quartz movements and fit-for-purpose components like rubber straps and black PVD-coated bezels.
Like many serious chronographs made for extreme sports, the new Tag Heuer Formula 1 Chronographs are built like tanks. They come in 43mm stainless steel cases with PVD-coated bezels, crowns, and pushers. The watches are water resistant to 200 meters, and each is equipped with a rubber strap that matches the color of the dial. Each dial sports (pun intended) a sunburst finish, three sub-registers for the chronograph functions, and the date at 4 o’clock. The sub-dial at 3 o’clock is for the running seconds, while the one at 6 o’clock is the 1/10th-of-a-second counter, and the one at 9 o’clock is a 30-minute totalizer. All of the functions are powered by a quartz movement, though the brand does not specify what caliber it is. As mentioned above, all models come with a rubber strap that is fitted to the case. From a visual standpoint, the Tag Heuer Formula 1 Chronographs come with a few details that scream extreme sports, from the bold Arabic numerals on the tachymeter bezel to the radial finish on the sub-registers and the straps the watches come with. Although the weight is not specified, I imagine these watches are rather light. I assume so because they are equipped with quartz movements and rubber straps (I may be wrong, though, so don’t quote me on that). Additionally, the case back is engraved with a checkered-flag motif.
Each model has more or less the same dial layout. But the watches differ in the details. Most obviously, each has a different-colored dial and matching strap. Options include what the brand describes as “energetic” green, yellow, and red. These colors are synonymous with the world of Formula 1 and race tracks. They used to be the iconic colors of famous teams in the 1960s and 1970s. Nowadays, they can still be found in multiple areas, from the flags and lights to the track markings and teams’ uniforms. These watches are therefore deeply inspired by the life on the tracks, just like they have been since the 1980s. A more subtle difference can be seen in the finish of the hands and applied markers. The green and yellow versions come with black hands and black markers with faceted surrounds. The red version, however, comes with rhodium-plated hands and markers. Rhodium is a finish that is applied to steel to make it more resistant to corrosion and tarnishing. It also gives the metal a shinier appearance. Other than that, all three models look identical.
To be frank, I do not come with an encyclopedic knowledge of chronographs and Formula 1. I do feel that mechanical chronographs are a bit more legitimate and classic than quartz ones. But I can see the value of having a more modern technology built into this type of watch. However we feel about TAG Heuer these days, we must admit that the brand does know how to make sports watches that look interesting and catch people’s eyes. One recently caught my eye on the wrist of Ryan Gosling’s Sierra Six character in the movie The Gray Man. Gosling sports a TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hands.