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Based on an initiative coming from Anthony Receveur, I’ve had the privilege to set up a Tag Heuer (TH) visit with some fellow collectors friends from the French forum “Montres Mecaniques” (http://montresmecaniques.forumactif.com/) where I have my daily habits.
The program was highly loaded with :
a visit at Artecad (Artcad is a dials manufactory owned by LVMH, they provide dials to TH among many others respected brands),
Lunch at TH premises,
TH manufactory visit,
Anthony’s worshop visit
all of that being surrounded by an amazing surprise.
The visit took place Thursday Marth 29th, here’s a photographic report of what has been a magic moment in our collectors lives.
Friends are gathered
When we arrived to Artecad, we realized an unexpected guest was showing up to make the visit with our group, Jack Heuer was joining us !
Straight to the meeting room,
Watch examination by Jack Heuer
Should I say some Heuer made the trip ?
Passionate discussions start around the Heuer tidal watches
After the Artecad visit, back to TH factory for lunch with Jack Heuer
Jack Heuer is glad to share many stories with us.
He talks about his studies at the prestigious “Ecole Polytechnique de Zurich” where he’s been graduated as an Engineer in electricity, a different vision of managing a watch factory.
He tells us when he was still a student, he spent some vacations time in NYC at the Abercrombie & Fitch department store where he’s been a salesman at the Watches department, a nice opportunity to discover and study closely American customers.
It is by the end of the 50s freshly graduated he’ll leave for the US for some years to set up the Heuer American subsidiary.
There, he easily got introduced into the race cars circles where Heuer dashboards were highly successful.
Credit : OnTheDash
Credit : neilfletcherracing
Quickly, Jack Heuer gets connections with the very chic Sports Cars Club of America (SCCA), Jack Heuer explains to be admitted in the SCCA at the times the only thing needed was to own a “Sports Car “.
Should I say at the that time any car imported from Europe was a “Sports Car” ?
Jack Heuer recalls even the famous Citroen DS was admitted at the SCCA (a very strange thing for Frenchies I must admit although the DS is a real legendary car).
These were the times of cars races heroes where we could see many Gentlemen drivers away from the “full car business” we know nowadays, Heuer successes in this area is building his foundations, its timepieces will then go to the enthusiasts wrists and their relations.
Jack Heuer also meets the Rodriguez brothers at Sebring, they are young and talented Mexican pilots
Credit : http://speedreaders.info
The Rodriguez brothers talk about the Carrera Panamericana to Jack Heuer, a competition which crossed Mexico and which is certainly the most famous if we consider the dangers and the amazing average speed reached by the participants (it’s been cancelled from 1955 due to too many people killed – pilots and spectators – but remained a true legend for years).
The Carrera Panamericana will give its name to what will become a legendary wrist chronograph
Credit : Arno Haslinger / Bonhams
As it comes to the relationships with Jo Siffert,
Credit : GVM
Jack Heuer recalls it’s a brewer based in Fribourg who advised him to meet and – why not – sponsor Jo Siffert affectionately nicknamed “Seppi”.
This meeting will lead to an interesting relationship between the 2 men which quickly come out of a fruitful association and a development even more intense for Heuer into the cars racing world.
Jack Heuer remembers he discovered Seppi’s driving talents while travelling with him in a rental car from Fribourg to Geneve, a very fast memory, highly emotional if we understood well…
Jo Siffert was a great talented driver, he also was a an efficient salesman owning a Porsche garage
Credit : Amer
During one of their first meeting, Jo Siffert told to Jack Heuer i twas time for him to own “a real car », Jack Heuer obviously left Seppi at the wheel of a Porsche, we clearly understood he had no option…
Jack Heuer also reminds us that the famous white dial automatic chronograph (Ref 1163 T)
Will be nicknamed « Siffert » a long time after its production stopped by passionate collectors.
While we’re enjoying thoroughly Jack Heuer telling us these stories, we pay attention
And are touched
Jack Heuer keeps going,
The partnership with Ferrari is settled in 1971,
Heuer provides precision timing devices to the Scuderia
Credit : http://brunodaytona67.canalblog.com
Credit : International Vintage Heuer Owners Club (IVHOC)
The Heuer shield is now on the Ferrari cars and pilots driving suits
Credit : confidentielpaddocks.over-blog.com
An outstanding positive communication vehicle which assent Heuer to a definitive legitimacy into the automotive world.
Jack Heuer recalls his relationships (sometimes tricky…) with the Commandatore and his awesome American dealer Luigi Chinetti
He speaks about the Legendary Carrera 18K (ref 1158 CHN)
Credit : Arno Haslinger / Bonhams
Which quicky becomes the « Ferrari guys » watch offered by the factory and is still worn by some of them
Credit : IVHOC
Some weeks ago
Credit : Paolo@OTD
and Niki Lauda (among many others…)
Credit : IVHOC
Pictured here in Vienna in 2009
Credit : Arno Haslinger
Collectors legend says that case back engravings showed pilots blood types for obvious reasons in case of a crash,
Jack Heuer answers with a smile it was rather to avoid pilots would not sell it right away…
The story goes on with the Quartz technology, something the visionary engineer had anticipated with the Microsplit launch (first chronometer with digital display and a 1/100 sec precision)
Pictured here while visiting the museum
And the Chronosplit which will be also worn by Ferrari stars
Credit : Arno Haslinger
Credit : IVHOC
But Jack Heuer says his biggest achievement as a quartz watch will be the Manhattan
Indeed, the Chronosplit only offers digital displays which implies a legibility constraint, the Manahattan offers a double display analog/digital allowing an instantaneous reading.
One understands better listening to the engineer Jack Heuer, the focus brought to the legibility of his productions.
Jack Heuer also says his satisfactory and his pride since 10 years the managing team of Tag Heuer pursues the factory innovation and avant-garde position relying on the foundations and values settled by himself and his team, we’ve had no doubt while hearing him.
Our host finally shares his vision of the « quartz crisis ».
Here again, he tells us a different story we could have expected saying the technology delay by Heuer was somewhere around one year comparing to the Asian factories, something that could have been catched up fairly easily according to him.
But the « quartz crisis » was essentially due according to Jack Heuer to the vertiginous drop of the exchange value of the USD versus the Swiss Franc.
The US were a major country for Heuer, distributors had kept up buying watches to Heuer which quickly turned into unsold items, unpaid to the Swiss factory, many US distributors turned into bankruptcy implying a huge volume of unpaid goods for Heuer.
Major losses for Heuer have dramatically reduced its developments capabilities at a crucial period…
Meanwhile, Japan had indexed the Yen value with the USD…
A totally different analysis comparared to what we all have read before.
Then came the TAG HEUER MUSEUM VISIT led by Jack Heuer
What a joy, what an honour, what a day !!!
We keep going
Heuer roots in the automotive field
Early generation dashboard
A fondamental aspect of Heuer legitimacy in sports timekeeping
As a start the Mikrograph, the very first chronometer capable of measuring 1/100 sec time launched in 1916 (!!!)
Some recent productions
Details and comments from Jack Heuer to the passionate assembly
The very first Swiss production to have travelled into space
But also watches obviously
One of the Monacos worn by McQueen in the « Le Mans » movie
Jack Heuer tells us THE TRUE McQueen story
Heuer used to partner with Don Nunley who was Le Mans movie property master.
Nunley decided to send a case with many Heuer, one of them shoud have to be worn by McQueen.
When the choice of its watch for the movie was made, McQueen decided to choose the Monaco because… it was the only one available twice therefore, if one of them would have been damaged, he could wear the spare one.
Historic wrist shot for one of our friend
And thanks to the kindness of Marie, our guide all day long (lucky we), the Carrera 80th Birthday
Aware of the privilege which is made to us here, the watch is manipulated with high attention
Here again we’re lucky to enjoy Jack Heuer’s generosity to share with us, here’s what we learned from his own comments regarding the watch
The case is clearly inspired from the classic 60s Carrera (diameter is 42mm as far as I remember). The watch was initially made to be waterproof up to 300m but Jack Heuer wanted a thinner watch, the waterproofness has been reduced to 100m to allow a 3mm reduction of case thickness, who could complain ?
Note the « 80 » on the scale to celebrate the birthday.
Indexes are simply beautiful
The watch is powered by the in-house Cal. 17 which explains the date at 6 another reference to the 1153 range maybe ?
The 80th Birthday Carrera production is restricted to 3000 samples, all sold now.
The 4 first watches produced have been reserved for the Heuer family.
The case back shows the Heuer family shield with Jack Heuer signature
Best things must stop at some point, we leave Jack Heuer full of stories told with generosity and kindness, we’re all very touched and hardly realize we’ve just been through 30 years of horological history with one of its major player, a real privilege for collectors.
The visit goes on through the Tag Heuer premises where the historic references are everywhere
We finally reach the Custmer Service where after sales services are handled, this is also the place at Tag Heuer where vintage watches are brought back to their previous factory condition.
As soon as we get in, a display attracts us
People are kind enough to show off what we can see inside
Very nice 3646
70s 11630 Autavia GMT
Super Autavia dashboard with amazing dial layout
Scarce 70s Autavia prototype
On the workbench here and there
Cal. 12 being serviced
Manual wind Autavia
Its famous bracelet
Woaw ! what a box !
While visiting the Customer Service we were able to chat with Benoit, Manager of the workshop and Christian Francesconi, Director of the Customer Service no doubt, these gentlemen pay high attention to collectors.
Best things being supposed to stop at some point, it is time for us to leave, our visit would have been simply outstanding, we leave amazed and full of emotions.
Well done Tag Heuer !
Thank you so much and maybe see you next time !
But enjoyment does not stop here, we get back to our cars to jump to Anthony’s workshop.
There we can’t release the passion and we all go to a crazy wrists shots session
Then we go for table shots sessions
A mixed “friends combination”
And then preparation for the final shooting session
And it goes for a "Vintage Heuer Porn shot"
And since there are no Heuer event with no reference to cars, on our way back to Paris we make a stop at an exhibition where beautiful cars could be seen
Here are some of the cars we’ve been lucky to admire
The three friends end up with this photo to pay tribute to their journey
At the end, if there’s a single word we should remember after this memorable day it is certainly pride.
The pride we felt all day long from people at Tag Heuer when they showed us what they were doing in building these beautiful timepieces or others at the Customer Service bringing back beauties to their previous glory.
I must confess we felt the same pride “being part somewhere of the family” as vintage Heuer lovers.
The key part of the day was obviously meeting Jack Heuer.
He’s been very kind to us sharing so many stories and spending so much time with us.
I’ve always had a great admiration for him over these last years while learning about the company history to me, he brought an unusual way of managing a “Watches Company” and is a key figure of the contemporary watches history.
Thank you so much Mr Heuer to have fed our passion in such a friendly and welcoming way !
This report is intended to share all the vintage Heuer related photos and topics with the OTD community, the full photographic report can seen here : http://montresmecaniques.forumactif.com/t6200-visite-tag-heuer-du-29-mars-2012
Please forgive what sometimes certainly looks like my poor English writing skills, I really did my best.