August 17, 2013
by James Stacey
In its nearly three decades of existence, the Formula 1 has always been one of TAG Heuer’s entry level products and relied on quartz movements to keep prices as accessible as possible. Recently, TAG Heuer announced the first men’s mechanical Formula 1 model, a chronograph powered by their Calibre 16 automatic movement. Sporting the well-established look of the Formula 1 line, the new Formula 1 Calibre 16 Automatic makes a play for some love from the mechanical purists among us.
The Formula 1 Calibre 16 Auto measures 44mm wide, an increase of 2mm over its quartz siblings, which may not seem like a big change but we assume it will have a noticeable effect on wrist presence. As the flagship model for the Formula 1 lineup, the Caliber 16 Chronograph is fitted with a sapphire crystal, 200 meters worth of water resistance and either a rubber strap or a steel and ceramic bracelet, depending on the model. Buyers will be able to choose between two steel models with ceramic bezels and steel bracelets with ceramic center links (CAU2010 and the CAU2011 with red accents), or a titanium carbide coated steel model with a black and orange dial, ceramic bezel and rubber strap (CAU2012). The three options allow for a wide range of tastes, with the more reserved CAU2010 at one end of the spectrum and the bold and sporty CAU2012 at the other.
Most notable because of its movement, the new mechanical Formula 1 line is powered by TAG Heuer’s Calibre 16. An automatic chronograph movement that uses either an ETA 7750 or a Sellita SW-500 as its base. To the end user, these two movements are identical and either can be used by TAG Heuer to power a Calibre 16 watch, with the decision likely decided by movement availability. The tri-compax layout allows for a maximum measure of 12 hours, with a 30 minute counter at twelve and a central chrono seconds hand.
Though the styling of the Formula 1 line may be somewhat polarizing, the now 27 year old design has found a core fan base and endured as a distinctive presence within TAG Heuer’s offerings. I owned a Formula 1 Grande Date for some time and found the lugless design to be quite comfortable and the sporty race-inspired styling to be distinctive and rather cool. While I eventually flipped my Formula 1 for a more classic automatic Aquaracer, I can see the new Calibre 16 versions being quite popular. I really like the anthracite dials and ceramic bezels on the CAU2010 and CAU2011. The more reserved color use on both models might make these the perfect watch for Monday to Friday at the office and weekends at the track. The more brash CAU2012 is classic Formula 1 and incorporates the bright colors and sporting style of the automotive racing world.
It’s not hard to understand the appeal of the Calibre 16 versions for someone who may have had a faithful quartz model for years and is now looking for an upgrade. That buyer now has a familiar option to stack up against a Calibre 16 Carrera or Link Chronograph as they move into the mechanical range of TAG Heuer’s lineup. Given the age of the Formula 1 line, this is a natural evolution of the line, especially as more and more buyers are looking for mechanical watches. With pricing starting around 3000 CHF, the Calibre 16 Formula 1 does represent a big jump in the price over the current Formula 1 range. What do you think? Would you wear an automatic Formula 1? While I like the look of these new Formula 1 models, if it were my cash, it would be hard to resist the urge to opt for a Monaco or a Carrera. TAGheuer.com