After generations of producing primarily chronographs and stopwatches, in the late 1970s, the dive watch emerged for Heuer as an entirely new product category of watches, with the success of the dive watch determining the success – or even survival – of the company. As the Swiss watch industry faced existential challenges from low-cost quartz watches from Japan and difficult economic conditions, it was the dive watch that allowed Heuer (and then TAG Heuer) to survivemake it through this difficult period. More than surviving, TAG Heuer would achieve tremendous success in this category, positioning the company for the current century.
After undergoing ownership changes in the first half of the 1980s, by the early 1990s, the company had a strong catalog of dive watches and chronographs, covering the range from simple, utilitarian dive watchesutilitarian versions to models that were positioned as elegant, luxury watches. Yes, TAG Heuer produced relatively simple watches that met the demands of diving, but increasingly the top of its range was positioned (and priced) to appeal to customers who wanted top-quality, stylish watches and chronographs. The dive watches and chronographs developed by TAG Heuer created the perfect position for the brand to move up-market.
It had taken several years to get there, but by the early 1990s TAG Heuer was back on a sound financial footing. The management team brought in after the acquisition by TAG had increased sales throughTAG Heuer introduced a series broad range of new watch linescollections -- the colorful Formula 1 and , luxurious Sports/ elegance (S/el), as well as 1500 Series and 4000 Sseries dive watches. Having stabilizsed the its finances, attention now turned to developing a flagship watch. The new series would offer premium case materials, including pPlatinum, 18 karatk yYellow and Wwhite gGold, and be powered by a range of automatic movements, including a cChronometer. The new range followed the naming convention that had its origins in the early 1980s, of the day and and was christened the TAG Heuer 6000 Series.
In addition to a diverse range, TAG Heuer released several limited or special edition 6000 watches, many of which had a strong link to Formula 1 and other motorsports. Perhaps the rarest of these is the special watch that was given to the owners of the McLaren F1 supercar.
The 6000 Series was the ultimate version of the “Six Features” stainless steel sports watch that had taken TAG Heuer through the 1980s and 1990s, with all the TAG Heuer collections incorporating the “Six Features”. but Still, only one year after the 6000’s launch of the 6000 Series, TAG Heuer launched a watch that would spell the end of the “Six Features” era -- the Carrera. In short, the dive watch category allowed TAG Heuer to survive the difficult decades starting with the 1970s, and by the late 1990s, TAG Heuer was ready to reengage in the world of motorsports and precision timing, as evidenced by the Carrera and the Monaco chronographs. The 6000 Series provided a natural bridge between these worlds.
The responsibility for designing the new 6000 Series series fell to Jorg Hysek, the man who would also design the Kirium collection, in 1997. also designed the Kirium series. Like other “Six Features” watches that incorporated the “Six Features” , the 6000 Series featuredutiliseds a unidirectional bezel, sSapphire glass (with cyclops on some models) and “Mercedes”-style hands.
The case of the 6000 Series has three elements: -- the base case (brushed finish), a thin upper bezel (with a polished ring sitting under the unidirectional bezel that extends to the lugs) and then a unidirectional bezel that combined polished and brushed finishes, depending on the model.
One characteristic of Hysek’s efforts is the integration of TAG Heuer’s shield into the design of the watch. Take a look at the Chronometer 6000 [above] and you notice the Heuer Shield shield used in several places:
Add these to the TAG Heuer logo on the dial, the crown and the one engraved on the caseback and clasp and you have up to eight stylised TAG Heuer shields on the watch. Yes, TAG Heuer – as a company -- was proud of its success in developing dive watches for over a dozen years, and the Series 6000 celebrated that accomplishment.
The style of the unidirectional bezel varied from one model to the next. , One element of the design that varied depending on the model is the unidirectional bezel. Twith the launch versions in 1995 offered two styles:
Later, the bezel used on the 6000 Series watches Late in the model life the bezel design changed subtly to a more rounded design.
The 6000 Series Qquartz model is easily identifiable as the only model in the range to feature the script “Professional” on the dial. The watch uses the black-filled Bbezel and baguette-shaped hour markers, except for the triangles at 6 and 9 o’clock and the inverted TAG Heuer logo at 12 o’clock.
The quartz watch was part of the launch collection in 1992 and remained in the catalogue for the entire production run without any significant changes.
The COSC-certified 6000 Series was also part of the launch collection, with the initial design being the same as the quartz watch.
The 1999 upgrade An update in 1999 saw a new dial introduced, with Arabic numerals replacing the baguettes and the embossed bezel replacing the engraved version. [The watch shown above shows the 1999 upgrade.]
The two Chronograph versions of the 6000 Series appeared in 1997, with TAG Heuer branding the mechanical version as a “Chronometer Chronograph”. The dial borrows the lume circles and embossed bezel from the Gold 6000 Series and introduced the Arabic numeral design later used by the Chronometer model.
Another feature of the Chronograph is the use of an inner tachy bezel, which helps give gives the dial more visual depth. With the date moving moved to the 6 o’clock position, with the cyclops being deleted. is missing.
The quartz Chronograph shared the tri-compax lay-out of its mechanical brotherthe mechanical chronographs in the collection, but in the registers on the quartz models are in a 2-6-10 layout. Like other 1/ 10th quartz Chronographs offered by TAG Heuer in the late 1990s, the watch has a red-tipped 1/ 10th second hand in addition to the usual central chronograph seconds hand.
The quartz chronograph model gets its own Chronograph had a new style of pushers -- pushers- a different design to those used on the mechanical version.
The 18K gold automatic chronometer stood at the top of the 6000 Series collection, (the version for ladies was not COSC-certified). This gold chronometer had a unique dial featuring small lume circles marking out the hours, separated by TAG Heuer-shield markers at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock. The gold watches have an angled inner bezel, as per the chronographs, but with a minute-scale.
A range of bespoke dials were available for the gold watch, including mother of pearl as well as the blue and green versions.
One of the rarest TAG Heuer watches is this Platinum 6000 Series, of which only 99 were made. The customer could customize the dial color of this watch, so the 99 examples have a variety of different looks.
From the time of their initial launch, the 6000 Series dive watches were available with both a bracelet and wide-range of leather straps.
The bracelet for the 6000 Series was highly complex, with 255 individual pieces. While an attractive design, it also presented difficulties as a practical matter. Bracelets on the first 6000 watches were fixed to the case with small screws, rather than by using spring bars. Later versions (denoted by the “-2” after the model number on the back of the case) have traditional spring bars and proved to be more robust.
Like all 1990s-era TAG Heuer watches and chronographs, the 6000 Series is powered by ETA movements.
As the flagship of the TAG Heuer range, 6000 Series watches and chronographs were the basis for several Limited Edition watches released in the late 1990s / early 2000s. The following are some interesting samples of these special edition watches.
Driving for McLaren, Mika Hakkinen won Formula One championships in 1998 and 1999. TAG Heuer created a pair of 6000 Series chronographs with his name on the dial, the black version (CH1114) and a model with a white dial (CH1118).
The professional basketball player Grant Hill was a TAG Heuer Ambassador in the 1990s, and in 1998 the company released a Limited Edition of 299 “Grant Hill” chronographs. This chronograph had a facsimile of his signature on the dial in red, with his name and initials marked on the case-back.
West, the German brand of cigarettes, sponsored the McLaren Formula 1 team (known as West McLaren Mercedes) from 1997 to 2005. In 1998, TAG Heuer produced a 6000 Series quartz chronograph for McLaren, as a limited edition of 2,000 watches. This was the only 6000 Series 1/10th quartz chronograph to use two registers (rather than three), with the open space across the bottom of the dial making way for the applied McLaren logo. Some of the case-backs are marked “West”.
TAG Heuer produced another Limited Edition of the 6000 Series chronometer for those who purchased the McLaren F1 road car. Each of these “owner’s” watches featured “McLaren Cars” and the chassis number on the dial. Additional samples of this watch were made for persons who were not McLaren F1 owners, with the dials of these watches marked ”Chronometer Officially Certified” in place of the “McLaren” name and chassis number.
TAG Heuer had a deep relationship with Ayrton Senna. The first watch in the Ayrton Senna TAG Heuer collection is a TAG Heuer 6000 Series, complete with the Senna “S” on the bottom lug.
The agreement to create the Senna-edition 6000 Series was signed on 29 April 1994, two days before Senna died at Imola.
In 1999, Bernie Ecclestone (in effect, the CEO of Formula 1) commissioned 500 samples of the TAG Heuer 6000 chronograph to mark the 50th year of the Formula 1 World Championship. The dials were marked “1950 to 1999 Limited Edition” on the left, with the F1 logo on the right. Not originally sold to the public, the watches were given out to sponsors and partners of Formula 1.
Building from the momentum that TAG Heuer had achieved in its development of successful dive watches, the 6000 Series was designed to be the ultimate watch in that range. The 6000 Series was at the top of the TAG Heuer pyramid for 10 years, but by 2002 the focus had shifted to chronographs (such as the Carrera) and the more affordable dive watches (such as the 2000 Series, which was to become the Aquaracer). Still, as the flagship collection for a decade, the 6000 Series demonstrated to TAG Heuer that -- even after it had achieved success with so many dive watches powered by quartz movements -- enthusiasts were willing to pay for high-quality mechanical movements. The models made in 18 karat gold and as limited editions for leading Formula 1 teams and racers evidence TAG Heuer’s ability to build dive watches and chronographs at the high end of the market.
The 6000 Series was the ultimate development of TAG Heuer’s portfolio of dive watches, and established that the company could achieve success in its return to mechanical watches and chronographs.