For 2014, TAG Heuer has once again released a brand new version of its iconic Formula 1. This time, the Formula 1 gets a totally unique automatic mechanical range to supplement the Formula 1 quartz watch offerings. Over the last few years, TAG Heuer has really gone all over the place in regard to trying to figure out what to do with its Formula 1 range. The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Automatic collection for 2014 is pretty good in regard to design and personality, but the question is… should this be the direction TAG Heuer takes its Formula 1 watch collection?
Let’s put things into context again. The TAG Heuer Formula 1 was for a long time a great looking entry-level quartz watch for the brand. Early on, they had cool colorful plastic bezels and really neat dial designs. A few years ago, they grew up to be the daily quartz beater watch we all wanted. After that, TAG Heuer took what I believe was a step backwards in regard to both design and quality, while kicking up the price and also including an automatic version. For 2014 TAG Heuer seems to have begun to figure out how to get the Formula 1’s groove back, but these pieces are all mechanical.
You won’t hear me complain often that a watch is mechanical, and in theory I appreciate these automatic watches. I do however feel that TAG Heuer had a great thing going with an more accessibly-priced entry level range that focused on quartz offerings at a price of under $1,000. If you wanted to get into something more high-end and mechanical you had the Link, Aquaracer, Monaco, and of course, Carrera families to do so. While the Formula 1 collection is still technically entry-level for the brand, and there are quartz versions available, I think the consumer is left wit a lot of confusing choices.
Perhaps I am simply being nostalgic that I want the Formula 1 range to be available to the widest possible demographic and be a fantastic daily sport watch for everyone. TAG Heuer has experimented with the Formula 1 collection making it more mainstream, more masculine, and more “racing.” Each of those steps has had its share of good ideas, but I don’t think that Formula 1 right now is as attractive an offering as, say, a Carrera or a Monaco.
The new for 2014 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Automatic watches come with two movement options. There is the three-hand Formula 1 Calibre 6 Automatic, as well as the Formula 1 Calibre 16 Automatic Chronograph. The three-hand Calibre 6 comes in a smaller 41mm wide case while the Calibre 16 Chronograph comes in a slightly larger 44mm wide case. As of writing, only the three-hand Formula 1 Calibre 6 Automatic model has been released, as the older generation Formula 1 Calibre 16 Chronograph watch is still available.
Available in either brushed or PVD black coated steel, the new Formula 1 watches take a new step in design compared the outgoing generation’s models. The case is now tonneau-shaped and the dial looks very little like the last few generation Formula 1 models. TAG Heuer’s historic Autavia models had similar case shapes, and I suppose one could suggest that TAG Heuer designed the new Formula 1 in its honor.
On the wrist, the new for 2014 TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6 Automatic watch is very attractive with a refined sporty design and legible dial. TAG Heuer should be commended for its design restraint, and focus on legibility. The last few generation Formula 1 models never quite had hand/hour marker combinations that visually pleased me. While these new ref. WAZ2112.FT8023 and ref. WAZ2110.BA0875 Calibre 6 models are not what I would imagine a new Formula 1 to look like, they are pretty nice evolutionary steps that take a new direction.
The three-hand Calibre 6 is a base Swiss Sellita, I believe, and offers a rare layout for sporty race watches with a subsidiary seconds dial. Hands are all the right size and visually these are very sharp. The cases have sapphire crystal and, as they have been for a long time, are water resistant to 200 meters. Of course, I am a fan of the rotating diver’s style bezel, which here is a matching color to the case.
That latter design element is a bit odd to me even though TAG Heuer introduced it on the last generation of Formula 1 watches. The original Formula 1, as well as a few past generation models have always had distinctive black rotating bezels which in my opinion are very much part of the Formula 1 design DNA. That element is now gone for 2014, but perhaps it will make a return in the future.