THE HOME OF WATCH CULTURE

The retro-tastic TAG Heuer Formula 1 is back as a Kith limited-edition collab (live pics) The retro-tastic TAG Heuer Formula 1 is back as a Kith limited-edition collab (live pics)

The retro-tastic TAG Heuer Formula 1 is back as a Kith limited-edition collab (live pics)

Borna Bošnjak
  • TAG Heuer and lifestyle brand Kith revive the Formula 1 as it was in 1986, along with the original case material.
  • The collection consists of ten limited-edition colourways, some exclusive to TAG Heuer and others to Kith.
  • Powered by quartz movements, the Formula 1 Kith will retail for CHF 1,500, or CHF 18,000 for the 75-piece run of the collector’s box with all ten watches.

There are few watches that left such an impact on a particular generation but have become largely forgotten by the majority of the collecting community as the TAG Heuer Formula 1. That’s not to say that the ’80s and ’90s TAG Heuer Formula 1 isn’t collectible – but if more people knew about it, I have a sneaking suspicion they’d reallocate their MoonSwatch savings. Thanks to TAG Heuer and Kith founder Ronnie Fieg, however, all of that might be about to change. The brand started life as a shoe store, eventually expanding onto streetwear and is now one of a group of tastemakers when it comes to IYKYK fashion, usually mentioned in the same breath as Aimé Leon Dore and Daniel Arsham. Sure, all that sounds great, but where does TAG Heuer come into play here? While there’s been no shortage of watch and lifestyle brand collabs, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 in particular is close to Fieg’s heart, as those original models were where his watch-collecting journey began.

Finally, May 1st also marks 30 years since the death of Ayrton Senna. While none of the press material explicitly states this to be a release tributing the Brazilian great, I’d like to think it’s a subtle tip of the hat to arguably the most talented driver in the history of the sport.

A historical hot lap

tag heuer formula 1 vintage ad

The Formula 1 is much more than just a quirky vintage collectible – it was the very first watch to bear the TAG Heuer name, after Techniques d’Avant Garde’s acquisition of the iconic Heuer brand. It was a bold new direction, but being backed by the mighty Marlboro McLaren racing outfit, the Formula 1 certainly had a marketing leg to stand on. Lauda, Prost, and Senna all sported some variant of the time-only or chronograph variant, while the McLaren pit crew all wore red and white colourways to go with the mighty MP4/2 (which coincidentally ran TAG-branded engines at the time).

tag heuer formula 1 lume dial 2010

Since the release and subsequent discontinuation of the 1986 Formula 1 collection, the model went through several iterations and is currently on Series 6. The Eddy Burgener design has mostly dissolved over the years, last resembling the knobby plastic bezel of the Series 1 with a full-lume dial model in 2010.

tag heuer formula 1 chronograph yellow

TAG Heuer has tried to revive their colourful, happy-go-lucky aesthetic, namely with the Formula 1 chronograph from a few years back. The change in aesthetic and exorbitant price tag, however, failed to truly capture the essence of the original. Since Swatch proved that there are plenty of those who wouldn’t mind what was basically an in-house homage watch, many have been hoping TAG Heuer would also take the hint, and revive the Formula 1 to its former, quirky glory. And, it finally happened… Sort of.

Joint edition, and brand exclusives

tag heuer formula 1 kith shared

Before I get into what I mean by “sort of”, let’s actually take a closer look at the watches. If you’ve tuned into TAG Heuer’s Instagram page over the last few days, the big teaser is of this very watch – a nearly one-to-one recreation of the reference WA1211. TAG Heuer refers to it as the “shared” model, since it will be sold by both Kith and in the watchmaker’s boutiques. Cased in steel on a Jubilee-style bracelet, it also seems it’ll be the easiest one to obtain owing to its run of 1,350 pieces.

tag heuer formula 1 kith exclusive collection
The seven models exclusive to Kith.

If that’s not quite your style, don’t worry – there are ten total colourways to pick from, most designs plucked right from the archives, with a subtle update or two. The next seven pieces are set to be exclusive to Kith stores, each honouring one location across its network. The blue-dialled Hawaii, all-black New York, creamy Miami, yellow Toronto, and red-and-white Tokyo all go for a vertical striped pattern dial, with coloured Arnite cases made with the same moulds by the same manufacturer as the Series 1. The two steel case and bracelet variants tribute Los Angeles with white and blue, and Paris in yellow and green. The five Arnite colourways are limited to 250 pieces, while the two steel models will number 350.

tag heuer formula 1 kith tag heuer exclusive
The two models exclusive to TAG.

Not one to be left out, TAG Heuer also ensured that its own boutiques will be stocked with exclusive models, in this case two black PVD-coated steel variants in green and blue. The striped dials are back, this time with a simple black base and contrasting minute track, bezel, and rubber strap. They’re set to release over the Miami Grand Prix weekend, first available in the Miami store only on the 3rd of May, with a global release set for May 6th, limited to 825 pieces per colour.

What’s new?

tag heuer formula 1 kith toronto

Upgrades over the original include a sapphire crystal instead of mineral, the use of more robust Arnite plastic and a rubber strap instead of a plastic one, though the most obvious change is in the logo. Gone is the TAG acronym, with the Kith brand name replacing it atop the vintage Heuer branding in the usual TAG Heuer logo. It’s the first time TAG Heuer has changed its logo to accommodate a collaboration. The other Kith-specific touch is the “Just Us” script below the pinion, which is the brand’s motto. In all honesty, I’m not crazy about this given the rest of the blocky aesthetic, but at the same time, it’s just the perfect amount of typeface mishmash one would get from an ’80s design, so why not.

tag heuer formula 1 kith shared caseback

Just like the originals, the new Formula 1 Kith watches are all equipped with quartz movements, though TAG Heuer doesn’t specify what they are exactly. I wouldn’t be surprised if they follow in the footsteps of the Series 1 and use some sort of Sellita or Ronda arrangement. I’m fully unwilling to entertain any shouts akin to “bUt iT shOuld’Ve beEn AutoMaTic!” – half of the charm of the Series 1 is that they were quartz, which was all the rage in the 1980s. Whatever the movements may be, they’re hidden behind solid casebacks ensuring a decent, 200-metre water-resistance rating, with more Kith Heuer branding and a “Kith & Kin” engraving.

 

tag heuer formula 1 kith feature

As a huge fan of 1980s and ’90s TAG Heuer (my dad has worn a two-tone Professional 200 quartz for most of his life), and a fan of Kith and Formula 1 (both the racing series and the watch), I’m totally on board with this being a thing. For the most serious Kith or TAG Heuer Formula 1 lovers, the collaboration will also see a 75-piece box set of all ten watches, priced at CHF 18,000. And those numbers allude to what might be the toughest pill to swallow with the Formula 1 Kith release. Across all the colourways and the ten box sets, this collaboration is set to produce 5,700 watches, with the individuals retailing for CHF 1,500.

kith heuer box

To put that into perspective, the Formula 1 Series 1 produced over three million pieces, retailing for US$136.50 at launch. Adjusted for inflation, that’s US$390 in 2024, or just a little over four times less the retail of this new collaboration. At this new price point, my earlier MoonSwatch analogy doesn’t quite work (and that makes sense considering TAG Heuer’s market positioning), but it will undoubtedly prove the value of the nostalgia factor – and it’s strong with this one.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Kith pricing and availability

The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Kith models will be available in May 2024. The joint model is limited to 1,350 pieces, Kith-exclusive models are limited to 250 or 350 pieces per colour, TAG Heuer-exclusive models are limited to 825 pieces per colour. The box set of all ten watches is limited to 75 units. Price: A$2,200 / US$1,500 / CHF 1,500 (individual pieces); A$26,700 / US$18,000 / CHF 18,000 (box set).

Brand TAG Heuer
Model Formula 1 Kith
Case Dimensions 35mm (D) x 9.45mm (T) x 40mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel, PVD-coated steel, Arnite
Water Resistance 200 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal front
Dial Eggshell, black, white, yellow, pink, blue
Bracelet Five-link steel bracelet, folding clasp
Coloured rubber with Arnite pin buckle
Movement Swiss quartz
Power Reserve TBC
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability 250 pieces, Kith exclusive (WA126E.BT0009, WA126D.BT0008, WA126C.BT0007, WA126B.BT0006, WA126A.BT0005)
350 pieces, Kith exclusive (WA121P.BA0023, WA121N.BA0023)
825 pieces each, TAG Heuer exclusive (WA121L.BT0014, WA121J.BT0012)
1,350 pieces (WA121F.BA0023)
75 pieces (box set)
Price A$2,200 / US$1,500 / CHF 1,500 (individual pieces)
A$26,700 / US$18,000 / CHF 18,000 (box set)