Heuer was set up in Switzerland in 1860 by Edouard Heuer. He was the son of a shoemaker and an ingenious craftsman who became interested in simplifying and advancing the chronograph. His two most significant contributions, arguably, came in 1880, when he created the first chronograph produced in a series, and in 1887 when he invented the oscillating pinion, a piece that dramatically increases the chronograph’s efficiency and whose concept is still in use today. A few years later Heuer passed away and handed over the reigns of a well-established company to his two sons.
The next generation of Heuers were similarly inspired and energetic. They soon introduced one of the original waterproof pocket chronographs and, more significantly, started experimenting with wristwatches and dashboard clocks. Their focus was on accuracy and sports timing and in 1920, as a testament to their progress, Heuer was selected as official timer at the Antwerp Olympic games. This colossal achievement put Heuer on the international map, and was repeated in 1924 in Paris and 1928 in Amsterdam.
In the 1930s Heuer’s newfound fame, not to mention the decades of groundwork, started bearing fruit. In 1933, it released the Autavia (a portmanteau of “automobile” and “aviation”) a highly accurate dashboard 12-hour timer that was state-of-the-art. It followed this a year later with the Hervue, a dashboard clock with an impressive 8-day power reserve, and again months later with their first waterproof wrist chronograph. These timepieces flooded the automotive industry and sparked a relationship that would go onto define the next few decades for Heuer.
In 1962, Jack Heuer picked up the reigns of his uncle’s business. He was, by all accounts, the most prolific of the Heuers, and his life’s work consisted of fusing his two passions—watches and motor racing. In his first year he introduced the Heuer Autavia wristwatch and in 1963, the legendary Carrera. A few years later, Jack took part in the famous Project 99, along with a handful of other leading figures in the industry, to produce the world’s first automatic chronograph movement, the Calibre 11, whose base design is still used today.
The seventies were the golden years for Heuer. By now Heuer could be seen on the wrists of many top Formula 1 drivers and on the bodywork of team Ferrari’s cars and suits. In 1971, Heuer’s new watch, the square-cased Monaco, appeared on the wrist of screen idol Steve McQueen in the driving film, Le Mans. McQueen’s icon status propelled Heuer to a new level and cemented it as one of the biggest watch companies in the world. A few years later, Heuer merged with TAG.
Today, TAG Heuer still produces first-rate racing chronographs and it has extended its collection to include a wide variety of other options for men and women, such as the popular Aquaracer diver series. It is also one of the only Swiss watch brands to take on the smartwatch market. The TAG Heuer Connected watches are a fusion of the latest technology and traditional horology. Meanwhile, the racing models from the golden years are now hot targets for collectors.