Talk to me about the Tag Heuer Formula 1…

Techniques d’Avant Garde. Probably not a name that means much to you but it is in fact the TAG in Tag Heuer, following their acquisition of the watchmaker back in 1985. Just over a year later one of Tag Heuer’s most loved models was born, the Tag Heuer Formula 1. The 1987 catalogue saw the Formula 1 appear in three eye-catching configurations. They were all featuring a lightweight resin case measuring 34mm and rubber strap. These were references 383.513 – black and red, 384.513 – red, white and green, and 385.513 – black, red and white.

Whilst many Swiss manufacturers succumbed to the quartz crisis of the 1970s, TAG Heuer were a brand able to react positively and these three-hand battery powered watches proved popular with the public. The Formula 1 line went into overdrive and in 1987/88 there were no fewer than 18 different versions, 8 lady’s and 10 gent’s. The colour range had expanded drastically to include orange, yellow, pink, grey, blue and even cream. The most notable change however was seen in the addition of a stainless-steel case to almost half the line up. This provided an option to those seeking some extra durability. A further milestone during the early years of the Formula 1 was the introduction of several chronograph references. With recorder sub-dials to two, six and ten, all featuring stainless steel cases they retained the colourful bezel and strap options which had made the model so appealing.

The fall off, and the relaunch…

However, it appears that the Formula 1 had a bit of wobble towards 1997 and catalogues from the period show a much-reduced line up with only a few variants available to those in the market. The case size had increased to 37mm in line with the public’s demand for larger watches but in 1999, when LVMH purchased TAG Heuer it became clear that the new owners did not feel the entry level Formula 1 watches portrayed the right image for their upmarket aspirations. As such, the line was completely dropped and would not re-appear until 2004.

The relaunch in 2004 though, saw some interesting changes. Whilst there remained a splash of colour in places, monochrome schemes were much more prevalent and the small ladies’ watches had gone, seeing 35.5mm as the smallest of three available case sizes. Ladies’ watches were now distinguished by their diamond set bezels and by 2007 accounted for over half the Formula 1’s in the sales brochure. There was also the inclusion of an analogue-digital dial for references CAC111D.BA0850 and CAC111D.BT0705, both 40mm. Adding some extra heft, the watches of 2008 would grow to 41mm as standard, and up to 44mm for the newly released Grand Date chronographs.

The Mechanical Tag Heuer Formula 1’s…

Now, if like me you like you’re a bit old school and prefer your watches in “wind-up” flavour you may be finding this blog a little hard going. But fear not, here comes the bit you’ve been waiting for. In 2012 the first MECHANICAL Formula 1’s were released! Housed in 37mm cases they were viewed as suitable for ladies and gents alike. The steel and ceramic bracelet utilised on these models was another notable change and evidenced TAG’s continued to desire to be one step ahead of the game.

2015 saw another notable debut in the range when a bi-colour Formula 1 entered the arena. Reference WAZ1120.BB0879 featured a steel and gold-plated case and bracelet, with deep blue dial and bezel insert. In-fact this period in TAG Heuer’s history, under the stewardship of Jean Claude Biver saw the brand refocus with three clear objectives. The Swiss watch guru described these as;

  • -To be “Avant-garde” as the TAG name suggests, using new technologies and connected to the future.
  • -To be the leader in affordable luxury, rather than a luxury brand.
  • -To have a perceived value of at least double the price. So, in producing a tourbillon, doing so at an affordable price and making it look like it costs double.

Were these objectives met?

Without doubt, these goals have been achieved, not least through the increased use of Limited Edition models and collaborations with sports people and cultural icons such as Cristiano Ronaldo and DJ Martin Garrix. It is therefore no surprise with such a rich history, and superb brand awareness, TAG Heuer continues to be one of the most popular manufacturers at Fellows Auctioneers. The Formula 1 is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable, yet interesting timekeeper. Here are six examples going under the virtual hammer in our upcoming Watches & Watch Accessories auction taking place on 8th June.

Tag Heuer Formula 1 at auction

Tag Heuer Formula 1

Lot 54

TAG HEUER – a stainless steel Formula 1 chronograph bracelet watch, 42mm.

Estimate £200 – £300

Lot 57

TAG HEUER – a stainless steel Formula 1 wrist watch, 28mm.

Estimate £70 – £100


Lot 65

TAG HEUER – a stainless steel Formula 1 wrist watch, 36mm.

Estimate £120 – £180

Lot 67

TAG HEUER – a stainless steel Formula 1 wrist watch (34mm) with a TAG Heuer 2000 chronograph bracelet watch and a TAG Heuer 1500 bracelet watch.

Estimate £80 – £120

Tag Heuer Formula 1

Lot 70

TAG HEUER – a PVD-treated stainless steel Formula 1 chronograph wrist watch, 41mm.

Estimate £300 – £400

Lot 73

TAG HEUER – a stainless steel Formula 1 bracelet watch, 35mm.

Estimate £50 – £80

Tag Heuer Formula 1


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The process is simple. You can fill in a form online or book an appointment to visit either of our offices in Birmingham or London. Virtual valuation appointments are also available.

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Kes Crockett | BA (Hons)

Kes Crockett
Watch Specialist
BA Hons
general watch care

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