Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heur and German sportscar manufacturer Porsche is rightly one of the biggest and a significant collaboration in the watch industry. Both the brands are powered by a common history of innovation and motor racing. This year they have planned to take a huge step forward by announcing the birth of a new and exclusive partnership that features a collaboration on product development and competition.
Before we move into the various offerings that the renewed partnership is set to announce, lets take a trip down memory lane to understand the history and evolution of the partnership between these two brands.
Where it all started?
TAG Heuer was founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer who first started with producing pocket watches mostly in silver. He then went on to change the course of watchmaking by introducing his first patent of covering a “crown operated, keyless winding system”. In 1887 he had perfected the chronograph by introducing a one push-button that allowed the chronograph to start and stop instantly.
Heuer then followed this with the launch of the Mikrograph and Microsplit in 1916. By the turn of the century, Heuer had released the dashboard Autavia which is now a household name in the watch industry. In 1958, Jack Heuer (great-grandson of the founder) formally joined Ed. Heuer & Co. S.A and became the the fourth generation leader to manage the family business.
Jack Heuer then went on to introduce the Heuer Carrera in 1963, the first automatic-winding chronograph movement Calibre 11 and the popular Heuer Monaco and McQueen partnership in 1969. By 1985, Ed. Heuer & Co. S.A came under the ownership of Techniques d'Avant-Garde business group and was renamed TAG Heuer. This led to TAG Heuer turning into a multi-faceted watch brand that went from a brand associated with mechanical chronographs to a full-fledged company designing watches for the 21st century.
Porsche's history, on the other hand dates back to 1948 when the founder Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferdinand (“Ferry) Porsche started the company with just 200 workers and introduced the first model; the Porsche Type 356 later in the year. Senior Porsche was instrumental in establishing an independent design and engineering firm in 1931 and one of their projects was the designing of the Volkswagen Beetle. He also made headlines when he invented a four-wheel drive gasoline/electric hybrid vehicle at the Auto Union Grand Prix cars in the 1930s. While the Senior Porsche brought half a century of innovation with him, his son Ferry played an important role in growing the company. He was instrumental in designing the first Porsche sports car – the 356.
By the mid 1950s Porsche as a brand was known for its comfortable and reliable sports cars. With the introduction of its own engines that included the legendary 911 Carrera, the four cylinder 924, the more powerful and sophisticated 944 and 944 Turbo to the 968 of the 90s, Porsche had established itself as a force to be reckoned with.
So when you trace the history of both the brands, you can draw a lot of parallels between the two. They not only have a rich history of innovation in their specific fields but have been instrumental in changing the landscape of the industry they belong. Both Edouard Heuer and Ferdinand Porsche were visionaries and pioneers whose creations changed their fields forever. While the former was responsible for the first manufactured chronograph, the latter invented an electric wheel hub motor.
Despite a stellar reputation garnered by both the brands, the two did not come together until the descendants of the respective brand's founding fathers took charge of the company. Ferry led Porsche into race track success with the class win in the Carerra Panamericana race of 1954. This resulted in him honouring the successful participation by calling its most powerful engine “Carrera”.
Edouard's great-grandson Jack created the first Heuer Carerra chronograph in 1963 which let drivers tell the time at a glance. Both of these ground-breaking innovations united Porsche and Heuer for the first time – in the spirit of the 'Carrera' (or 'race').
What Came Next?
Like a match made in heaven, the partnership between TAG Heuer and Porsche flourished. Jack Heuer released the Heuer Monaco – the first square-faced, water-resistant automatic chronograph. The name itself evoked the Monaco Grand Prix which Porsche had won three consecutive times with its signature 911 model.
Eventually Jack cemented Heuer's link to Porsche with a creative sponsorship arrangement with Fribourg, Switzerland-based racing driver and Porsche dealer Jo Siffert. In 2005, at the premiere of the film Jo Siffert: Live Fast – Die Young, Jack Heuer remembered the terms of their contract: “In exchange for CHF 25,000, he would put our logo on his car and suit. In addition, he could buy our watches at wholesale prices and resell them to his racing friends at a substantial profit. Which he did with great success because half of the F1 paddock was wearing Heuer watches by the end of the 1969 season!”
This led to Steve McQueen wearing the Heuer logo on his racing suit during the filming of Le Mansin 1970 while driving a Porsche 917. The American actor had stated during the time that as he was driving the same car as Jo Siffert, he wanted to wear the same suit as him.
TAG Heuer and Porsche also came together when they developed and produced the TAG-Turbo engine that enabled the McLaren team to win three consecutive F1 world titles with Niki Lauda in 1984, followed by Alain Prost in 1985 and 1986.
By 1990s, the relationship between the two brands had strengthened tremendously. But in 1999 their partnership reached new heights of meaning and strength with TAG Heuer's collaboration with Porsche in the Porsche Carerra Cup and Supercup competitions and many more. Eventually Porsche created its own Formula E team with TAG Heuer as its title and timing partner in 2019. This marked a starting point for TAG Heuer and Porsche to take their partnership to a new level of commitment. And now in 2021, both the brands take this much awaited journey of deepening their relationship by celebrating the release of special-edition timepieces that will be so “worth the wait!”.
2021: A New Dawn
This is the year that the world will witness a renewed and rejuvenated partnership between TAG Heuer and Porsche. Starting from the launch of the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph which I have covered (here), the year looks pretty promising.
Keeping in tune with its foundation of world-class motorsports, TAG Heuer and Porsche are all set with its TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team fighting for the World's Championship. Porsche will have its latest all-electric racecar, the 99X Electric which will be driven by André Lotterer and his new teammate, Pascal Wehrlein. Additionally Porsche along with TAG Heuer are prepared for the coming FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) along with a series partnership in ten editions of the worldwide one-make cup series Porsche Carrera Cup. Apart from the physical racetracks, TAG Heuer will also be engaging in virtual racing by supporting the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup.
The year-long celebration also includes TAG Heuer's and Porsche's passion for golf and tennis. From the watch developments in the new TAG Heuer Connected to Porsche's support of the Porsche Gold Cup and the Porsche European Gold Tournament, this year looks like it is going to tee off to a wonderful start. In regard to tennis, Porsche will be continuing its own tournament, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart where TAG Heuer will be the Official Timing, Watch and Chronograph partner.
Last but not the least, the year of this renewed partnership also offers something for their clients who, to be honest, are simply not observers. Both the brands are looking at creating unforgettable moments in 2021 through different Porsche experience formats. Now to know what that means, we just might have to wait a little!
All historical images provided by TAG Heuer and Porsche.