When Heuer introduced its first automatic chronographs in 1969, the Autavia and Carrera moved to new cases to accommodate the larger Chronomatic Calibre 11 movement, while the Monaco was an entirely new model, its radical shape and colors designed to showcase the new movement that would take Heuer into the 1970s.
Since the re-introduction of the Carrera in 1996, we saw TAG Heuer develop the Carrera collection, from a simple homage to the original models, and further with models that take on their own identity, incorporating the most advanced materials and time-keeping technologies, while always remaining true to the Carrera origin.
The executive collection stood in a transitional position, in several respects. After developing three collections of dive watches from 1978 to 1984, with the Executive collection Heuer began to look up-market, with an elegant style that would be positioned as a “premium” watch or chronograph.
The Kentucky is a unique collection among the vintage Heuer chronographs. While we think of the Heuer chronographs of the 1960s and 70s as being associated with motorsports, the Kentucky was connected with a popular use of Heuer stopwatches and chronographs from the late 19th century – timing horse races.
The TAG Heuer Targa Florio chronograph, in its various executions, drew inspiration from three distinct sources – it paid tribute to the famous Sicilian road race and the legendary driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, while the design of the chronograph was based on the “Flieger” chronograph that Heuer produced for pilots in the 1930s.
Heuer’s experience in dive watches began in 1978, with the relatively simple 1000 Series of watches. It was the dive watches that allowed Heuer to survive difficult industry and global economic conditions, with the continuation of the company ensured when Techniques d’Avant Garde acquired Heuer on January 1, 1986.
Heuer got into the dive watch business in 1978, with the reference 844, and joined the 1000 meter depth rating club in 1982, however, all these early models followed the traditional style of dive watches from previous decades. With the Super Professional, Heuer demonstrated that it could move from the traditional style dive watch to a model that was purpose-built for professionals.
The 1000 Series of dive watches from Heuer and TAG Heuer played a critical role in the history of the company. Developed at a time when Swiss mechanical chronographs faced industrial and economic challenges, and with Heuer having little background in this category of timepieces, these relatively inexpensive dive watches quickly met with enormous success.
Heuer’s introduction of the Autavia chronograph in 1962 was a revolutionary development for the company. Heuer produced the Autavia for over 20 years, with the model moving through three generations – a round screw-back case; a snap-back compressor case; and a C-Shape case built to house Heuer’s first automatic movement.
Heuer began producing the 1000 Series dive watches in the late 1970s, and in view of the popularity of this first collection, introduced the more fashion-forward 2000 Series in 1982. By 1990, TAG Heuer was ready to discontinue the 1000 Series, as the “tool” look of the collection was no match for the more stylish 2000 Series. This created the position for the new 1500 Series, which would offer the utilitarian features of the 1000 Series with some of the style of the 2000 Series.
The 3000 Series of dive watches and chronographs occupies an interesting position in the history of the TAG Heuer brand. Introduced in 1984, these watches mark the transition from Heuer to TAG Heuer, as well as the move from the classic chronographs of the 1960s and 1970s to the new styles of dive watches and chronographs that TAG Heuer would offer moving forward.