We’ve said it repeatedly, but cars and mechanical watches are a natural match. The dedication to precision and fine mechanics, the passion they arouse, and the fact that many car enthusiasts are also watch aficionados (and vice versa) have made collaborations between watch manufactures and car brands a classic cocktail of our industry. But not all partnerships are equal… Yesterday, TAG Heuer and Porsche announced their alliance, resulting in the Carrera Porsche Chronograph. And clearly, knowing the shared history of the brands over the last 50 years, this is one of the most natural brand partnerships we’ve seen recently. In addition to exploring the watch, we’ve decided to ask the CEO of TAG Heuer, Frédéric Arnault, what the alliance with Porsche was all about.
Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – How was the connection between TAG Heuer and Porsche sparked?
Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer – Our stories have intertwined in intricate, intriguing ways for over half a century. TAG Heuer and Porsche have a number of things in common, from rich histories and reputations for innovation to cutting-edge technologies, a powerful and independent mindset and a knack for excellence in design. And we share an attitude. Like Porsche, we are disruptors at heart, always in pursuit of high performance. When we met the first time with the Porsche team, we could immediately feel we shared the same passion, and it felt very natural and purposeful.
To summarise a bit, our common story began with the brand’s founding fathers, both self-taught entrepreneurs, visionaries and pioneers whose creations changed their chosen fields forever. And their descendants were truly instrumental in laying the foundations of this new partnership. In 1963 the first Carrera chronograph and Porsche’s most powerful Carrera engine united us for the first time in the spirit of the “Carrera Panamericana” race. And it was Jack Heuer’s sponsorship agreement with Jo Siffert, the Swiss-based racing driver and Porsche dealer that led Steve McQueen to wear the Heuer Monaco and logo on his racing suit during the filming of Le Mans in 1970, in which he drove a Porsche 917.
The other important and more formal link between Porsche and TAG Heuer was the TAG-Porsche engine that the brands developed and produced together. It enabled the McLaren team to win three consecutive F1 world titles in the 1980s. Then the relationship grew even stronger in 1999 with several joint racing competitions and in 2019, TAG Heuer became the title and timing partner of Porsche’s own Formula E team.
So, it was really worth the wait until today to make that beautiful friendship become a holistic global brand partnership.
What is the scope of the TAG Heuer x Porsche partnership?
What’s exciting and unprecedented is that this partnership is all-encompassing, a truly 360° project so there are many aspects we are excited about and we want to work on for many years to come. Of course, it will entail joint communication and a variety of projects on a brand level, with very popular platforms we will support together especially in motorsports, but also in golf and tennis where both TAG Heuer and Porsche have been involved for a long time. We really want to build unforgettable events and experiences for both our customers and fans as soon as the circumstances allow.
On a product level, the new TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph is a first step and a glimpse of what we could achieve together. Going forward, you can expect real innovations from a movement perspective and drawing inspiration from automotive technologies from the Porsche world in the future. The purpose of this partnership is to bring creativity and innovation to the world that is only made possible through the connection of both brands. There will be many firsts…
How have you envisioned a TAG Heuer x Porsche special edition watch?
This chronograph is an exquisite example of coordination, cooperation and collaboration. We really wanted to create a product that connected the two brands. We looked at how Porsche dashboard counters worked and what their typeface was so that we had a strong connection between both brand’s dials – this way we have the bright and iconic Porsche numerals as indexes. However, we used specific Carrera codes for the hands, the sub-dials, the tachymeter and so on to make sure that the watches stayed clearly connected to TAG Heuer. The case is borrowed from our Carrera Sport model. The strap is a direct reference to Porsche’s leather style and stitching. We re-engineered the oscillating mass inspired by the iconic Porsche steering wheel without compromising the quality of the 80-hours power reserve of the Heuer 02 movement.
Last but not least, we have a cool street look with the asphalt finish on the main part of the dial, which symbolises the racetrack, where the Porsche 911 is perfectly at home. What I love about this watch is that it’s a Carrera Sport Chronograph infused with subtle and elegant design codes of Porsche.
How did the teams at TAG Heuer and Porsche agree on which elements had to be featured on the watch?
For our first creative product collaboration, Carrera was a natural choice, as the iconic name has been associated with TAG Heuer and Porsche for generations. For its development, I think the biggest challenge was to stay true to both brands’ DNA while making this product uniquely special. We spent a lot of time with the Porsche teams to understand what were the important details to highlight on this product to make sure the essence of both brands shined through. We wanted to make sure the product design would express the real fusion between both brands and we are quite excited with the result. This first product creates a clear link between both “Carreras”.
The name Carrera for a TAG Heuer x Porsche special edition feels natural, but how does the TAG Heuer Carrera case match Porsche’s design?
In both the car and the watch, the shape is designed to be unmistakable, to be beautiful while not losing its penchant for speed, to have a kind of attractive aggressiveness, to be elegant without being soft. Looking at the side view of the watch, you can see how the new case has a clear sense of direction, a blend of strong edges but smooth forms. This is very much the case of the Porsche 911 with an amazing mix of curves and straight lines, of elegance and power.