Porsche and TAG Heuer Celebrate Their Shared History With the Carrera Porsche Chronograph

A collaboration that was 50-plus years in the making, and well worth the wait.

February 4, 2021 9:54 am
Porsche and TAG Heuer Celebrate Their Shared History With the Carrera Porsche Chronograph
TAG Heuer

The Venn diagram of auto aficionados and watch aficionados would contain a serious amount of overlap. If you were to ask someone in the middle whether they happen to own a Carrera, you’d be likely to receive a response of, “Do you mean the watch or the car?”

Carrera — the Spanish word for race — has long been associated with two absolute legends in their fields, Porsche’s 911 and TAG Heuer’s racing-focused chronograph, both introduced in 1963. For the first time, these two icons are officially intertwined, with Porsche and TAG today revealing their co-developed, special edition TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph. 

Rendered in a 44mm case that’s easy to read while your hands are on the steering wheel, the Carrera Porsche Chronograph updates one of TAG Heuer’s most enduring timepieces with a number of design touches that stay true to German automaker’s aesthetic. The color scheme of the watch is red, black and grey, echoing Porsche’s official colors, while the custom asphalt finish of the dial, unique to this watch, is inspired by the surface of a track. Porsche fans will immediately recognize the font of the red Porsche logo etched into the tachymeter bezel, the Arabic numerals for the hour markers that harken to those of a 911’s speedometer, and the “redline” at the chronometer’s 3 o’clock window. On the rear of the watch, a clear display crystal reveals an oscillating mass which has been carved to mimic Porsche’s split three-spoke steering wheel and carries the signatures of both brands. The TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph is available on either an interlocking steel bracelet or black leather strap, and those opting for the latter will find the same hand-stitched accents found in Porsche interiors.

TAG Heuer

Watches that  honor car brands are nothing new, but too often they feel like little more than a marketing gimmick. Unlike, say, a prancing horse that has been affixed to a number of watch brands with only passing association the automaker, or a more recent collaboration owing mainly to the fact that both brands’ logo happen to feature a flying “B,” the connection between TAG Heuer and Porsche goes back decades. In fact, we would venture to say that the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph may actually be the most deserved and legitimate collaboration between a watchmaker and a carmaker to date.

To understand why this is such a natural pairing, and why it’s surprising it took so long for this watch to come to fruition, it’s important to know the intertwined history of these two companies. The Heuer Watchmaking company was founded in 1860 in Switzerland by Eduard Heuer, who would make a name for himself as the forebearer of the chronograph. He patented the first in 1882, and the the oscillating pinion he patented in 1887 would go on to win a medal at the World’s Fair and remains the basis for the analog stopwatch to this day. 

As early as 1911, in the time of the Model T, Heuer was producing “The Time of The Trip,” the world’s first mass produced, dash-mounted timing clock for use in both cars and aeroplanes, which would later morph into the famed Autavia model. As Porsche became dominant in the race and rally worlds, the dash timers their drivers chose to mount on their winning cars almost exclusively carried the Heuer logo.

In the late 1960s, facing a limited advertising budget due largely to the expensive R&D of their groundbreaking Monaco model, Heuer approached Swiss racing driver and Porsche dealer Jo Siffert with a unique proposal: along with a traditional sponsorship fee to feature their logo on his racing suit and championship winning Porsche race cars, they also offered him an unlimited number of Heuer timepieces as wholesale that he could resell to any associates. It was a successful move for both of them. “Half of the F1 paddock was wearing Heuer watches by the end of the 1969 season,” recalls company chairman Jack Heuer.

This partnership led to what remains perhaps the highest-profile, or at least well remembered, collaboration between the brands. Lead actor Steve McQueen would drive a Porsche 917 throughout the 1971 film Le Mans, and since he drove the same car as Jo Siffert, he also insisted on wearing his same gear, which meant both a Heuer logo on his Porsche racing suit as well as a Heuer watch on his wrist.

In 1977, wildly successful Saudi businessman Akram Ojjeh launched Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) to invest in and celebrate his love of speed. His first major acquisitions? Heuer Watchmaking Inc and an ownership stake in the McLaren Group and their F1 racing team. TAG pledged to fund the development of a new motor for McLaren’s Tag Heuer liveried racers, and who did they turn to to build and develop this ultimately successful powerplant? Porsche.

Since 1999, TAG Heuer has been a title sponsor and official timekeeper of the Porsche Carrera Cup and SuperCup competitions and continues to be directly involved in their racing efforts. TAG Heuer was also a founding sponsor of the all-electric Formula E racing series, and in 2017, Porsche made the groundbreaking announcement that they would cease their involvement in the highest level of Le Mans racing to focus on electric. The official team with which they would make their historic Formula E debut? The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team.

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph is a celebration of a storied history between two powerhouse brands. The watch is officially launching today, but if you want one on your wrist you’d be wise not to wait: these are two brands who specialize in things that go fast, and these special edition timepieces are sure to be no exception.

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