Rolex may have the whole F1 package tied up and IWC may have made a reassuringly big hoopla about their Mercedes GP partnership with a new series of covetable watches and with their latest new recruits or "Friends of the Brand" on display at Monaco last week, brandishing Big Pilots on their wrists and what were surely the biggest smiles on the grid line-up x 2....
....But, despite all the corporate comings and goings and the on/off watch brand + F1 team dalliances, one marque was there at the beginning and is still the name we all associate with F1 - TAG Heuer. And the man we have to thank for this is Jack Heuer. He knew.
Industry savvy? An understatement. Jack Heuer was responsible for forging links with motorsport which are still so strong that if you follow F1 you will have seen the TAG Heuer logo a thousand times. Even before "TAG" came along, when it was just "Heuer" the man already had a vision of how his brand would benefit from a connection with motorsport. Back in the sixties he registered the name Carrera for use in watchmaking (Porsche nabbed it for use in car-making, but then you knew that already...). His Carrera collection, which he had more than a hand in designing, cleaned up the chronograph dial and showed the rest the way to go.
F1? His brand was the first non-automotive sponsor, becoming as intrinsically linked with Ferrari as Agip's flame-spitting six-legged black dog. From 1971 to 1979 every Ferrari F1 car had a strategically placed Heuer logo. He knew.
Which leads me to this. Part of a new collection which celebrates TAG Heuer's links with the Automobile Club de Monaco and the greatest F1 race of them all the Monaco Grand Prix. This is the TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty Four Calibre 36 Chronograph, and it really is a handsome watch.
The out-size 24 at the the 12 o'clock bears tribute to the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and not Monaco, but given the McQueen/Le Mans/Heuer connections it's inclusion can be forgiven. The 3D aspect of the two-part dial on these Monaco 24/36 models is always appealing but whereas the brand's design department have, in the past enhanced the counters or the centre panel with vivid colours this one looks particularly striking in the simplicity of black opaline. I particularly like the glimpse through to the shock-absorbing arms, visible where the round dial meets the square-ness of the case and that side-on fuzzyness where sapphire meets bezel.
Or perhaps something a little more monochrome? This is the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12 Chronograph ACM for 2013.
Black titanium carbide case, smoked sapphire caseback and an all-black dial - only the vivid little tip of the chronograph hand interrupts its shadowy good looks. TAG Heuer describe this as "The first black Monaco since 1974" and "...the sexiest watch on the circuit". I have to agree, it is rather fine indeed and, isn't it curious that while producing an all-black version of almost every product on earth is the equivalent of an invisibility cloak, with wristwatches the opposite occurs - a blackened watchcase has prominence, a blackened watchcase has presence. In 1974? He knew that too.
More details on these new TAG Heuer Monaco models for 2013 at the brand's official website here.
Back in 2010 we published an article "F1 Drivers and Their Watches" the teams/drivers may have changed but it is still one of our most popular posts read it here.