The TAG Heuer Formula 1 offers bright, colourful retro fun The TAG Heuer Formula 1 offers bright, colourful retro fun

The TAG Heuer Formula 1 offers bright, colourful retro fun

Borna Bošnjak

You’ve just watched Alain Prost win the first of his four Formula 1 championships, yet your colourful little Swatch that’s been all the rage recently doesn’t quite satisfy your racing enthusiast heart. Naturally, TAG Heuer come to your rescue with their array of funky, plastic-bezelled and fibreglass-cased Formula 1 pieces just the following year. The brand’s connection with the world of racing is undisputed, made obvious by their multiple entries in D.C.’s recent round-up of F1’s coolest vintage watches. The Formula 1 collection itself perfectly embodied the fun, block colours of the ’80s before a redesign in 1990.

The collection remained a staple in TAG Heuer’s offering, even incorporating some funky racing colours like the Gulf Edition recently, though it never really revived the soul of the original collection, as the brand looked to go in a more serious direction. Until now, that is. With a trio of vibrant chronographs with panda-style dials and chunky bezels taking inspiration from the plastic ones of yesteryear, the new TAG Heuer Formula 1 collection is looking to have some fun.

Racing colours

Sunburst yellow, green and red seem like obvious choices for a racing-inspired watch. Such bright colours were initially assigned to racing teams to denote their country of origin – just think of British racing green and red-painted Italian outfits. With highly-contrasting red, white and black highlights, they manage excellent legibility too, as expected of a racing chronograph.

tag heuer formula 1

Zooming in closer, it’s obvious that TAG Heuer paid attention to the small details, applying a rich sunburst finish across the collection, interrupted by circularly grained chronograph registers and lacquer-painted chronograph hands. The rhodium-plated square indices are finished in a high polish to match the tapering triangular hands, all luminescent and offering satisfactory after-dark performance. The markers, however, vary in size considerably due to the layout of the chronograph and the inclusion of a 4 o’clock date window, which together disrupt the dial balance.

Beefed-up dimensions

tag heuer formula 1

Unlike the diminutive sizing of the 1980s pieces, the new Formula 1 pieces have a 43mm stainless-steel case. Where these new watches call back to previous releases is the chunky tachymetre-scaled bezel, which is rendered in black PVD stainless steel. This ensures much greater durability than the plastic found on the 1980s models, while retaining a similar look. The chronograph pushers and crown are finished in the same colour for visual continuity and contrast against the brushed case.

tag heuer formula 1

The overall quality of the finishing is commendable, though there are no flourishes or fine touches to the design of the case to speak of. The screw-down crown offers a solid action and plenty of grip, though the same cannot be said for the pushers, as they lack some tactile feedback when engaging the chronograph.

Despite the large 43mm size, I was impressed by the comfort on my 6.1-inch wrist. This was somewhat thanks to the compact case profile and slight curve of the lugs, though mostly due to the great comfort of the colour-matched integrated rubber straps. The pliable material brought a great additional pop of colour, secured by a beefy pin buckle that didn’t dig into the skin as is at times the case with rubber straps.

Overly simple or sticking to its roots?

As the new Formula 1 collection occupies an entry-level price point for TAG Heuer, it’s expected for them to be powered by a quartz movement. Though TAG Heuer does not specify it, the watch is powered by a three-register Ronda 5040D calibre. It offers a 30-minute totaliser at 9 o’clock and moves the running seconds to 3 o’clock, giving the spotlight to a 1/10th of a second register at 6. I’m sure that some enthusiasts will be calling for a mechanical movement, owing to the long heritage of mechanically powered (TAG) Heuer chronographs, though I have to admit that I’ve got nothing against the quartz calibre in the F1, as it ensures a more approachable cost for a funky watch.

The verdict

tag heuer formula 1

My enjoyment of this colourful Formula 1 trio might’ve been positively skewed by my love of the complete quirk-fest that was the collection back in the 80s, with the vivid yellow being my pick of the bunch. Objectively speaking, however, I see the new Formula 1 collection mostly serving those like myself, with a keen eye for racing and a soft spot for something left-field, while bringing some summer watch vibes at the same time. Quartz-powered and priced at A$2,650, however, it’ll have a hard time presenting as any sort of value proposition, despite being the entry point of TAG Heuer’s catalogue.

TAG Heuer Formula 1 pricing and availability:

The TAG Heuer Formula 1 is available now from TAG Heuer, in red, green and yellow colourways. Price: A$2,650

Brand TAG Heuer
Model Formula 1
Reference Number CAZ101AP (green dial)
CAZ101AM (yellow dial)
CAZ101AN (red dial)
Case Dimensions 43mm
Case Material Stainless steel with PVD black stainless steel bezel
Water Resistance 200 metres
Dial Sunburst green, yellow or red with black tri-register chronograph layout
Crystal Sapphire
Strap Integrated rubber strap, colour-matched to dial, stainless steel pin buckle
Movement Ronda 5040D, quartz chronograph, 30-minute totaliser, 1/10th second counter
Price A$2,650