Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of the founder of Heuer, former CEO of Heuer, and Honorary Chairman of TAG Heuer celebrates his 88th birthday today. To fete the man who oversaw the brand’s exciting entry into racing-inspired wrist chronographs, a 188-piece edition inspired by Jack Heuer’s favourite Carrera 1158CHN of the 1970s is being released today. Evocative of the solid gold watches Jack Heuer gave Ferrari Formula I drivers as tokens of good luck in the 1970s, these special watches conform to the new lines of the luxury 42mm Carreras Calibre Heuer 02 released earlier this year.
Staying the course
Involved with the family company since his late teens, when he enlisted his high school physics teacher to help create the science behind a tide watch for an American client (Solunar, 1949), Jack Heuer has stuck through thick and thin at TAG Heuer. Following a family tradition, Jack was sent to America in 1959 to “learn about the world”, specifically, to learn about the vast potential of marketing. An unexpected move to sell the company instigated by an uncle on the board of directors in Switzerland forced Jack Heuer to return, secure a majority share, and become head of the company at the age of 28.
With his American background in marketing and the brand’s core business of precision stopwatches, pocket chronographs and dashboard counters to time sporting events, Jack Heuer put two and two together and raced into the fast lane of watches designed specifically for racing drivers. The Autavia of 1962 (a contraction of Aut-omotive and Avia-tion), originally a dashboard instrument for aviation and automotive pilots, was released from its confinement and reinterpreted as a wrist chronograph. The name chosen for Jack Heuer’s first chronograph went one step further in consolidating its link to the race track and referred to a specific – and notoriously dangerous – open-road car racing event in Mexico known as the Carrera Panamericana (1950-1954). The name Carrera struck a chord and Jack Heuer’s design for a highly legible chronograph in a 36mm case with straight casebands and powerful, angular lugs would prove timeless. The Carrera would become the epitome of the sports chronograph for professional drivers and sport car enthusiasts.
Another milestone in Jack Heuer’s career was his involvement in Project 99, a consortium established with Buren, Hamilton, Breitling and Dubois Depraz in the race to develop the first automatic chronograph movement. The result was Calibre 11, one of the first automatic chronograph movements in 1969 (Zenith’s El Primero took the record for the first automatic chronograph movement). Sadly, the quartz crisis took its toll on automatic chronographs, and the Carrera was discontinued. These were bleak times for the Swiss watch industry and a task force chosen to decide the company’s future invited Jack Heuer to leave the company in 1982. In 1985 a Saudi business group bought the company (renamed TAG Heuer), which was then acquired by LVMH in 1999. Luckily, the new owners realised there was still fuel in the tank of the Carrera and in 1996 the legendary chronograph was revived. The other good news was that in 2001 Jack Heuer was also invited to return as Honorary Chairman of TAG Heuer, a position he occupied until 18 November 2013, the day he turned 81.
Jack Heuer’s favourite Carrera
Although everybody knows Jack Heuer as the man behind the iconic Carrera chronograph of 1963, he was also a maverick figure in product placement. The all-gold Heuer Carrera 1158CHN has always been Jack Heuer’s favourite watch. Not only was it equipped with the brand’s in-house automatic chronograph Calibre 12 (successor to Calibre 11), it was also associated with Heuer’s relationship with Ferrari’s Formula 1 team from 1971 to 1979. Beyond the Heuer logo on the Formula 1 cars and the pilots’ overalls, Ferrari Formula I drivers were given an 18k yellow gold automatic Carrera chronograph as a good luck token. Drivers like Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx, Nicki Lauda, Clay Regazzoni and Gilles Villeneuve were all given a Heuer Carrera 1158CHN with their name and blood type engraved on the caseback.
The birthday watch
The case of Jack Heuer’s 88th birthday watch is made from 18k rose gold but its shape is nothing like the 1969 38mm tonneau-shaped case given to the Ferrari pilots. The birthday watch is based on the recently launched 42mm chronograph, a more classic version of the sportier 44mm models. Although there are models in the Carrera collection that combine rose gold with steel, this is the only model in full rose gold, something that will certainly appeal to collectors.
Faithful to Jack Heuer’s 1963 Carrera chronograph, there is no tachymetre scale on the bezel, a detail that raises the elegant factor noticeably. The highly polished bezel and top surfaces of the case are in line with the more refined spirit of the watch. The piston-style pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock for the chronograph, the large crown and angular lugs – all polished – also evoke the early Carrera models as does the angled flange with the minutes track.
The silver opaline dial with two black sub-counters captures the pristine, highly-legible spirit of early Carreras. Instead of incorporating a third counter for the small seconds, these are indicated with two discreet horizontal lines above the gold-framed window for the date. The double symbol of infinity, marking Jack Heuer’s lucky eighty-eighth birthday, is placed below the central axis of the hands. All the indices, hands and appliqués on the dial are rose gold-coloured to match the case.
Calibre Heuer 02
The performance-driven Heuer 02, TAG Heuer’s in-house chronograph movement appeared in 2017 boasting a thinner movement and an increased power reserve over the Heuer 01 movement of 2009. A modern calibre with integrated architecture, Heuer 02 has a column wheel and a vertical clutch, a combination that ensures a smooth and accurate run of the chronograph. Beating at a 4Hz frequency, it can store up to 80 hours of power. The movement can be seen through the sapphire glass with its openworked blackened rotor engraved with Jack Heuer’s motto ‘Time never stops, why should we?’
The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer Birthday Gold Limited Edition model comes with a black alligator strap bearing Jack Heuer’s signature in gold lettering.
Availability & Price
This exclusive tribute timepiece will be open for pre-orders from 19 November 2020 and will be available in TAG Heuer boutiques and online in March 2021. Retail price is CHF 18,000.
More information at tagheuer.com.