TAG Heuer reconnects… to its past

TAG Heuer is reconnecting with its own past. The brand is going back to a time when it was known by the name of its founder alone, without the more recent acronym for “Technique d’Avant Garde”. The reason is that, although it’s the same company, the pre-1985 era is not terribly well known. For the last fifteen years, the company has invested heavily in its future, in the “TAG”. The supersonic tourbillons, belt drives and ultra-high frequencies churned out by the supercharged R&D department have ultimately led the company away from its roots. At least, that’s how CEO Jean-Claude Biver sees it, and he now hopes to throw the spotlight back on Heuer’s past.

Private collectors to the rescue

Thankfully, Heuer’s historic past has been jealously preserved by a number of collectors. TAG Heuer brought them together, to consolidate its heritage and take back its own history. The initiative is not a new one: when Jean-Christophe Babin, the company’s previous CEO, brought Jack Heuer back to be the company’s honorary president, his primary aim was to anchor the “Heuer” more firmly to the “TAG”.
But Jean-Claude Biver is taking things further. He served notice on the revolutionary haute horlogerie projects steered by Guy Sémon, who is now in charge of developing the Connected. The CEO is devoting his own energies to reinjecting as much history as possible back into the brand. The foundation stone was laid with the reissue of the Panamericana. This was followed by a trial of the Autavia MK3 Rindt, which was also launched in the spring. The trial was a success, and TAG Heuer stepped further into the breach, announcing a new unlimited Autavia model.

Shared vision

Some people see this as the bearing the “Biver hallmark”, but in fact it’s not so different from what Jean-Christophe Babin was trying to achieve. If we think of the brand as representing a bridge between tradition (Heuer) and modernity (TAG), then on one side Babin placed the recurring collections (with Monaco as the flagship), and on the other, the high-frequency concept watch replica es replica. Jean-Claude Biver is doing the same thing, but with two different models: Autavia for history, the Connected for the future. And on the bridge itself, midway between tradition and modernity, stand the historic current collections (Carrera, Aquaracer, etc.). Same game, different pieces.
The difference in the two approaches will come down to the resources thrown at them. On the modern side, the Connected 1 is a genuine popular success, which makes its impact difficult to measure in comparison with the stratospherically-priced concept watch replica es replica of the Babin era. On the other side of the bridge, the history side, Jean-Claude Biver has launched a vast historical research project, with implications that go well beyond the Autavia’s relaunch. TAG Heuer has 3000 watch replica es replica to dismantle, along with 10,000 documents and images to catalogue. The company museum will be opening its doors to the general public. TAG Heuer is now scouring all the specialised auctions with a view to acquiring examples of its most remarkable collectors’ pieces. This will have the knock-on effect of increasing the value of vintage Heuer watch replica es replica, thus further raising the profile of the company’s heritage. TAG Heuer’s historical restoration service will be better resourced, and all serviced pieces will be returned with an automatic two-year guarantee.
This will all be backed up by a considerable online offensive. TAG Heuer has little choice in the matter, given that 30% of Instagram posts by its fans are of vintage pieces. The company also plans to communicate its own heritage more effectively. Everything will be visible from a new website, designed specifically for mobile navigation, which accounts for 68% of all traffic to tagheuer.com.

New Autavia: vintage collectors need not apply

In terms of products, the Autavia – this time an unlimited edition – will embody the “vintage revival” spirit. Jean-Claude Biver has been free with his pronouncements, mainly directed to collectors looking for a re-issue. “This Autavia is not a re-issue, it’s not meant for you, and you shouldn’t buy it!” he bellows, laughing heartily. “It’s a re-inspiration, not a re-issue. This is not the original. There’s nothing worse than offering something that looks like the original but isn’t. Everything about this Autavia that’s different has been deliberately designed that way. History cannot and must not be remade.
The watch replica will be available from the first quarter of 2017, priced at between CHF 4,000 and 5,000 (to be confirmed). It will be equipped with the optimised CH-80 movement, re-christened the Heuer 03 calibre, 80% of which is made at the company’s Chevenez campus, now back up to 100% capacity.


The new Autavia will officially be presented to the public at Baselworld 2017. © WorldTempus / Olivier Müller