TAG Heuer and Porsche recently dropped the first release from their new partnership, the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph. The watch combines the best of TAG Heuer and Porsches’ design expertise, heritage, and style, on and off the track. While this is the first time the brands have come together on an individual product, the two have been courting each other for decades, bringing cool to the race track every step of the way, and cementing their place in style and culture.
Explore the brand’s key moments leading to their historical partnership and how they brought style to motorsport below.
1860 — Start
Despite being more than 100 years apart in their formations as companies, the Swiss Edouard Heuer and German Ferdinand Porsche started their businesses with a passion for bringing innovation and style together in their respective fields. Young Edouard, who was just 20 when he set up the brand, started out making pocket watches before he began innovating and bringing a series of firsts to market. To begin, he patented the keyless crown-operated winding system in 1869 that still defines how we wind our watches today. Edouard soon found a passion for speed and moved to create stopwatches — this is perhaps where TAG Heuer’s association with racing began. In 1887, Heuer patented the “oscillating pin” for stopwatches. This mechanism meant that you could stop and start the chronograph on the watch (the part by which you count your speed) with the push of a button, whereas before it was all done by eye.
1911 — Chorongraphs and Cars
After the patent of the brand’s first chronograph in 1892, founder Edouard Heuer passed away, and his already reputable legacy was handed down to his sons. By 1911, Heuer had patented the first dashboard chronograph for use in planes and cars, in what was to be the first step on a long and legendary association with motorsport. The “Time of Trip” chronograph didn’t just introduce all the features we have come to expect from a chronograph to the dashboard but added an undeniable touch of class, style, and sleek design to the otherwise quite clunky and ramshackle affair dashboard implements were at the time. In 1914, Heuer adapted the dashboard chronograph into a wrist-watch, creating the ultimate accessory for the “gentleman racer.”
1948 — Porsche Pulls Up
Despite not releasing their first car until 1948, founder Ferdinand Porsche put his stamp on the automobile industry from the 1930s, developing small cars and racing vehicles for several companies. It wasn’t until 1948, though, that Ferdinand’s son (also named Ferdinand) stepped up to the plate, forming Porsche as its own company and rolling out their first official car out of the workshop doors. The Porsche 356 is undoubtedly a Porsche. From the smooth aerodynamic contours to those bulging kawaii headlights, it was already the most stylish ride on the road. Despite only producing 50 upon release, the 356 quickly created a stir amongst car enthusiasts and racers.
1963 — A Shared Passion for Carrera
The La Carrera Panamericana is the race that stole both brands’ hearts and inevitably brought them together. Known commonly as the most dangerous race in the world, it only ran from 1950 to 1954 because it was a bit, well, dangerous. The race involved some of the world’s most famous and daring drivers taking on Mexican open roads, border to border. Legend has it, great-grandson of Edouard Heuer, Jack Heuer — a huge motorsport fan — was observing the Sebring 12-hour endurance race (he was supplying the officials with timepieces) when he got into a conversation with the Rodríguez brothers, two of Mexico’s most famous drivers. Heuer said of the encounter: “The Rodríguez brothers were racing with Ferrari, and they were still so young, they were traveling with their parents. Pedro and his brother Ricardo were two of the fastest, smartest, and bravest endurance drivers of all time. To hear them talk of the Carrera made my imagination soar. Just the sound of the name itself — elegant, dynamic, easily pronounced in all languages — was charged with emotion. I thought, that’s a good name for a watch.”
The stories of daredevil drivers in the highest grade cars, taking on the elements and looking pristine and stylish while doing so, captured his imagination. It was time to create a watch that could match the speed and style of those legendary racers, a watch that could feature on the wrists of those cigar-smoking, sun-kissed, shade wearing faces as the paparazzi caught them leaning out of the window of their racer. Heuer quickly gained the right to use Carrera’s name (meaning “race”) on a watch, and the Heuer Carrera driver’s chronograph was released in 1963.
That very same year, Porsche also released their magnum opus, the Porsche 911. The 911 wasn’t bestowed with the Carrera name until 1972, but Porsche had been using the name on their top models since 1955. Porsche at the turn of the ’50s was not a brand renowned for producing great race models, but La Carrera Panamericana was different. Its open format on civilian roads that winded through desert, jungle, and mountain ranges was the perfect course for the Porsche’s aggression, reliability, and endurance. Inspired by their success during the last ever race of their class, a year after the Panamericana’s dissolution, Porsche produced the 356A Carrera.
1969 – Accelerating with Ambassadors
In 1969, Heuer signed Swiss Porsche driver Jo Siffert in the first lifestyle sponsorship deal for an F1 driver. His association with Porsche meant this was also the first time the Heuer and Porsche logos were seen together; Siffert was reportedly paid 25.000 CHF a year to carry the Heuer logo on his racing suit. Whether this was part of the deal or not, Siffert’s Heuer of choice was the Autavia chronograph, now referred to as the “Siffert” by watch aficionados. The deal was a shrewd move by Heuer. It represented a way to cement their place in the motorsports community as not just a functional time taker, but a lifestyle brand for glamorous and stylish drivers, both on and off the track. The second part of their savvy marketing was in the choice of driver. Jo Siffert wasn’t just an outstanding racer, but a style icon of his generation. Known for his debonair look, he would often be papped in the pits wearing his obligatory black shades, swept-back hair, and well-groomed mustache, dripping cool on to the track like hot motor oil. Sadly, Joe Siffert passed away in a racing accident in 1971, but not before he inspired Steve McQueen on his persona for the film Le Mans, the next big crossover point in Porsche and TAG Heuer’s relationship.
1970 — That Steve McQueen Moment
Steve McQueen, one of the style icons of the 20th century, was at the height of his fame when he starred in Le Mans. The film depicts the 24-hour Le Mans race’s energy and follows the trials and tribulations of the fictional driver Mark Delany, played by McQueen. In the movie, McQueen drives a Porsche 917, which, as iconic and beautiful as it is, was outshone by McQueen’s on-track style, his racing suit bearing Heuer sponsorship, and the now-famous Monaco chronograph watch. Like the Carrera, the Monaco had motorsport connections of its own, with its name inspired by the Monaco Grand Prix. The image of McQueen zipping up his suit, Monaco in full view, is now more well-known than the film. The white roll neck, the jacket with its blue, white, and red stripes, and the sponsorship patches adorning it has inspired motorsport style and menswear ever since. The look, the style, and the swagger of McQueen’s portrayal of Mark Delany were inspired by Heuer’s biggest ambassador, Jo Siffert. McQueen had met Siffert at a race earlier that year and said, “I want to look like Jo, because he’s a real racer, a real pro.”
McQueen didn’t just learn how to drive like a racer from Siffert; he borrowed everything from him down to a tee; that included the watch Siffert had been wearing when they met, the Monaco. By the release of the film in 1971, both Porsche and Heuer were well-known in the racing world, but it was McQueen, driving the 917 with a Monaco on his wrist, who catapulted both brands equally into household names that resonated with style, suaveness, and an undeniable air of cool. The Monaco — with its distinctive case, unique coloring, and winding crown positioned on the left side of the case — broke the regular conventions of watches. It was modernity for the wrist, and its popularity and place in culture to this day hasn’t waned.
1985 — Heuer Gets a Motor
In 1985, Heuer was bought by TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde), and Heuer became the TAG Heuer brand we know today. TAG was known for its supply of engines to Formula 1 cars, which further cemented Heuer’s position as the watch brand of racing. Porsche manufactured TAG-Turbo engines for the company in the 1980s for use in F1 cars, winning several constructors’ and drivers’ titles during the relationship. One of these engines somehow ended up in an extremely rare (likely a one-off) 930-era Porsche 911. This TAG turbo-charged Porsche can only be seen in McLaren’s UK headquarters and looks inconspicuous at first glance, but at closer inspection of the trunk, you will find two massive intercoolers feeding the F1 TAG V6 engine.
1993 — Three Icons Meet
In 1993, Finnish F1 legend Mika Häkkinen competed in the Porsche Supercup (which was sponsored by TAG Heuer and continues their association to this day) in Monaco and Hungary. The Porsche Supercup is traditionally the supporting act to the F1 Grand Prix, so for Häkkinen to win in between qualifications, testing, and the race itself is quite the feat. While Häkkinen is far from a style icon himself, the car he drove has extreme “virability” in the cool stakes. On its own, the Porsche 911 964 Carrera 2 is drool-worthy to even the most discerning, but the white paint job and the oversized TAG Heuer sponsorship sprawled across it take this car to a level beyond beautiful. Proof that Porsche and TAG Heuer complement each other to the nth degree.
2010s — The Age of Collaboration
The navigation of a new millennium has not come easy for many brands, with some of the old houses of yesteryear struggling to garner new allegiances. Many have survived on the strength of collaborations, and many have flopped and floundered, throwing their logos at anything that moves slightly upwards on the hype chart. Porsche and TAG Heuer are two brands that navigated the treacherous waters of the 2010s with dignified and subtle elegance, their legacies staying strong. Their collaborations have been refined, well-thought of partnerships, where the brands involved have paid homage to TAG Heuer and Porsche products as fans, sometimes creating invaluable works of art in the process. TAG Heuer recently linked with George Bamford of The Bamford Watch Department on the Aquaracer — a watch Bamford is a self-proclaimed admirer of — and the brand continues their authentic relationship with Fragment Design. Porsche stormed through 2020 with both Aimé Leon Dore and Daniel Arsham offering their takes on the 911, further maintaining the model’s relevance in culture. TAG Heuer has also entered 2021 on a high, continuing their groundbreaking list of ambassadors by adding Tennis’ œuvre d’art of the moment, Naomi Osaka.
2019 — The Future of Motorsport
Formula E is the future of racing, and the future of racing needs the experience of legends of the past to help it succeed. In August 2019, TAG Heuer and Porsche’s unrequited relationship of casual flirting and brief courtship finally resulted in a serious partnership. In the spirit of Jack Heuer’s motto, “Time doesn’t stop. Why should we?” TAG Heuer became the Porsche Formula E team’s title and timing partner, resulting in the new team name, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer, said of the partnership: “This partnership with Porsche demonstrates our ongoing commitment and support for Formula E, to which we were a founding partner. Innovation has always been at the core of the TAG Heuer brand, and this partnership with Porsche’s new team will enable us to continue bringing to life our ambition to create new and experimental innovations within motorsport.”
Today — The Future of Style
The recent release of the TAG Heuer and Porsche Carrera Chronograph combines years of experience in the industry and truly seals the relationship in the first collaborative product ever created between the brands. And this is just the starting line. The watch is proof that, together, TAG Heuer and Porsche will continue innovating with style and bringing their motorsport influence to a wider style-obsessed demographic — and, above all, dressing the well dressed.
Shop the TAG Heuer and Porsche Carrera Chronograph here.