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WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

In December of 2016, the monthly giveaway on aBlogtoWatch was for a VIP Formula E ePrix experience in New York with TAG Heuer. The winner was John F. and after enjoying his VIP experience, he has given us a first hand account for us to share with you – the aBlogtoWatch audience. Thanks to John and all the other winners who share their giveaway experiences with the world. Here is John’s story:

On some level, I didn’t seriously process that the trip was going to happen until a day or so before I got on the plane. In December 2016, I entered aBlogtoWatch’s giveaway for a trip to New York in July to see the Qualcomm New York City ePrix as a VIP guest of TAG Heuer. I did not win at that point, and I did not expect to — I’d entered many of aBlogtoWatch’s monthly giveaways, but I always thought of those entries as inconsequential larks, fuel for idle fantasies of winning an interesting timepiece. This contest was especially exciting, but I had no illusions about the odds. So, when the site announced another person as the winner, I just took it to be reality kicking in.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

A few months later, I got an email from aBlogtoWatch informing me that the original winner couldn’t make it and inviting me to step in as an alternate. I agreed, but the sudden reversal of fortune made the prospect of actually taking the trip all the more surreal. And “VIP” can be a very flexible term; it could mean anything from a slightly easier check-in process at the race to an audience with the Pope. So even though I kept in touch about travel plans in the months before the trip, and I received a detailed itinerary a few days before the flight, I resolved not to think too much about the details or develop set expectations. I tried to stick to a mentality of taking the trip as it came.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

It turned out to be everything I could have hoped for in terms of the racing and the accommodations. TAG Heuer is a founding partner of Formula E, the official timekeeper of the event, and its official watch. TAG would share with me all of the access that came with that relationship, and extend every generosity and hospitality they could to make the trip as fun and comfortable as possible. I would, moreover, get to spend most of the weekend hanging out with aBlogtoWatch’s own Ariel Adams, making the weekend a unique horological experience as well as a sporting one.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

Friday, July 14 — Settling In

I flew into LaGuardia Airport on the afternoon of the fourteenth, where a car was waiting to take me to the Beekman Hotel in lower Manhattan. The flight was first class, the car was a Cadillac, and the hotel was five-star. It was clear my hosts were sincere in their commitment to making the trip as comfortable as possible.

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After a couple hours decompressing in the room I went downstairs to meet Ariel Adams and John Kim, a photographer, in the lobby. We got acquainted and went downtown for dinner and drinks with the owners and staff of TrueFacet, an online pre-owned watch marketplace.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

This was the beginning of a special kind of access in itself. I’m interested in electric cars, especially high-performance ones, but I’m a watch person — I found out about the Formula E experience giveaway because I read aBlogtoWatch, not vice-versa. I don’t have the funds to collect anything too high end, nor to collect too many pieces period, and I became interested in Ariel’s site because of its breadth. I could read relevant consumer advice about the affordable Midos or Certina dive watches I might actually buy someday alongside evaluations of five- or six-figure pieces, and all of them would be evaluated on their own terms, as members of a diverse but unified community. Similarly, I could find discussions of all aspects and levels of the watch industry. I could, in other words, have an access to a watch world far beyond whatever I happened to actually own or see firsthand.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

Beginning with meeting the folks at TrueFacet, the entire trip had a similar vibe except it was live. Certainly, the pieces and the conversation drifted towards (what was for me) the high end of the market — I was, after all, sojourning not just among watch people, but among professional watch people. But the conversations weren’t about conspicuous consumption, brand cache, or even business in a strict financial sense. It was about unbridled enthusiasm for horology — shoptalk of watch movements, new trends or designs, and industry news. This would hold true throughout the weekend, as I met numerous TAG representatives, Tim Mosso — who I would hang out with for an embarrassingly long time before I realized he was the man behind WatchUWant.com’s YouTube videos (I was accustomed to just seeing his hands) — and countless others who came and went too quickly for me to fully process but who Ariel clearly knew well.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

There was, incidentally, no better guide in this world than Ariel. He can see a cheap quartz watch and extemporaneously explain that brand’s plans to use a new technology to corner the under $100 market in one moment, then recognize a very obscure $40,000 vintage luxury piece on a passerby’s wrist and explain that model’s unique history on the spot in the next. Both of those are literal examples.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

On that first night, he also saved me from an epic gaffe: my chosen watch for the weekend was a digital Timex Expedition with a Velcro strap. I’m actually very fond of that watch — it’s a tremendously comfortable, functional piece that is very loveable in its way. But I chose it for this trip because I don’t happen to own a TAG and I thought under the circumstances the polite thing was to wear something so patently non-luxurious it couldn’t be taken for a competitor. Foreseeing the problem with my plan almost immediately, Ariel insisted that I borrow the very watch off his wrist — a limited edition Omega commemorating the 2016 Rio Olympics. I took him up on the very generous offer, but didn’t quite understand why he’d made it.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

I would soon discover that one of the first questions virtually everyone I met on the trip could be counted on to ask was “what are you wearing today?” It was always a friendly question, not a judgmental one, but the awkwardness of repeatedly presenting an item as ludicrously out-of-place as a digital Timex for appraisal and discussion would’ve gotten old very fast. And given that I loved the chance to a see such a wide variety of interesting timepieces in action, it was nice to have one to show in turn, even if I did dutifully admit it was borrowed. Ariel, incidentally, was fine in those social exchanges even without his Omega. When he lent it to me straight off of one wrist, he had a limited edition Japanese TAG Carrera on the other. That in itself says something about the man’s passion for his field.

We all spent the evening chatting at a restaurant and bar on the roof of TrueFacet’s office building. Sitting there, looking out over the city with a glass of Japanese whiskey while chatting about watch topics great and small — from the need for order in the secondary market to what people thought about the news from the most recent Baselworld — was a very gentle immersion into the world where I would be spending the next few days.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

Saturday, July 15  The Track Site 

Ariel, John, and I gathered in the lobby around 9:30 in the morning to meet Ben, a TAG Heuer representative who would help see us through our first race day, ensure our access to the special events the company had arranged, and rather heroically keep us more-or-less on schedule despite our easy distractibility. We then made the short journey from lower Manhattan to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook and got our first look at the race site.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

We had a good five or six hours before the beginning of the first race, but even that early, the entire event felt infused with grandeur and possibility. Formula E is a young sport. The weekend’s races, coming near the end of its third season, were only the 29th and 30th in its history. (For comparison: Formula 1 held twenty-one races in the 2016 season alone.) But one of the advantages of electric car races is that they can take place in cities much less disruptively than their internal combustion counterparts. The engines don’t make as much noise, so they don’t ruin life for miles around. The tracks are street circuits, not bespoke structures, so they can be laid out and taken down with comparative efficiency. And the tracks tend to be small, winding circuits to favor the performance strengths of the electric cars, so they can operate in relatively confined spaces. As a result, Formula E had been able to secure an event in New York where other major auto races like Formula 1 and NASCAR could not. It had already hit many of the world’s major capitals — London, Paris, and Beijing among them — and now, still so early in its existence, it was conquering New York as the first international motor race ever held in any of the five boroughs.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

Both Formula E and the city were eager to play up that milestone, and it created the feeling that I was at a celebration as much as an event. The very fact that street racing was actually going to take place in New York City had an inherent excitement behind it. The temporary track and grandstands built onto the grounds, combined with the eVillage full of games and demos for race attendees, gave the site the tone of a grand pop-up carnival, a welcoming party for the race’s arrival. And in the background of the whole thing were postcard views of the Manhattan skyline across New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty off in the distance. In terms of a location being used to create an impression, it was pretty much perfect.

WINNER REVIEW: TAG Heuer & aBlogtoWatch Formula E EPrix Race In New York Featured Articles

By the time we checked in, it was still a couple of hours before even the qualifying rounds started, so Ariel and I made our way to the EMOTION club while John went off to find more fruitful photographic material. (John would, for the rest of the weekend, pop in and out of contact, demonstrating an uncanny ability to be around when something worth photographing was happening, and disappearing to find action elsewhere when it wasn’t.)

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  • Raymond Wilkie

    Well done John. Great review. Sounds like the whole weekend was an absolute blast.

  • Phil leavell

    Congratulations John on your win. Wonderful read with my morning cup of coffee. Kudos on the Bag of Tag Swag and may your good fortunes continue

  • Simon_Hell
  • Simon_Hell
  • SuperStrapper

    Fun experience, great prize. Congrats!

  • John

    Congrats!

  • Yan Fin

    No sermon today?

  • Berndt Norten

    I have a few more hedonistic things to do before I check out: attend a Wimbledon Final; ski the Vallée Blanche (Chamonix); do Franz’s and Peak to Creek (Whistler) one more time with my best homie, ride up Ventoux without stopping, Petrarch in me pocket; and attend a Tag event.

    • Moonraker

      I just wanna see Salma Hayek sans-clothes. Then I can die.

      • Simon_Hell
        • Raymond Wilkie

          And my pic gets banned !

      • Berndt Norten

        What’s that film she’s in with Clooney ? Bar scene. Snake around her neck.

        • Moonraker

          From Dusk ‘Til Dawn

      • Berndt Norten

        I’ll never forget the ads plastered on the side of the escalators in the London tube c 2007 featuring Salma for a lingerie company

      • Sheez Gagoo

        I had a customer with TAG with no crown and full of water (automatic, chrono) and he asked me if I can sve it. I said: “No way, your watch is dead, sir. You need to send it to TAG and it will cost you a fortune ($1000 or more) and it will take about 8 weeks”. It was hard for him to handle the truth…

    • egznyc

      This doesn’t quite rise to the level of hedonistic IMO – but I guess you didn’t want your comment cleansed. I had pictured wanting to live past 100, shot by a jealous husband …

  • Very nice write up John! Looks like a fun time.

    But after all that; did TAG not give you a watch?

    • Omegaboy

      Just what I was thinking!

      • Thank you. I believe a super-duper double tourbillon, triple AR coated JCB cheese special would have been in order. But only the combined titanium wire carbon fiber case would do.

  • DanW94

    Congrats and thanks for the recap John. Looks like you had a memorable time.

    • Moonraker

      Hella good advice, Broheimus! You keeps it on the real. That’s what makes you so chice.

    • Mikita

      There must be some deadly harsh German word for this, something like Geshihtungassenviolinenfoken I don’t know. Lets ask Sheez Gagoo 🙂

      • Sheez Gagoo

        “Freudenbeutel” or “Werbegeschenkstasche”

        • Mikita

          Second one!

    • cluedog12

      They’re informally known as swag bags and are often the best part of attending promotional events.

      • DanW94

        Yes, I’m familiar. While my post was half tongue in cheek, that term just rubs me the wrong way. It’s got an air of “Kardashian speak” to it…..

  • Daniel Katz

    Great review John
    Like a writer for New Yorket

    • Mikita

      How do you like my new yorket? This yorket is so much better than my old broken yorket.

      • Daniel Katz

        Ok , I misspelled New Yorker
        Apologies Mikita
        Do you wish to PM me

        • Mikita

          It’s okay, was just joking 🙂

          • Daniel Katz

            Thx
            Over reacting over apologizing to everything
            This summer…. better smarten up if I’m doing standup at open mikes this fall

  • Lurch

    I am confused – I thought Max S. from Carolina, Puerto Rico won. https://www.ablogtowatch.com/winner-formula-e-eprix-race-new-york-tag-heuer-watches-experience-giveaway/

    Well anyways, congratulations John. Sounds like you had a great time.

    • SuperStrapper

      Article says original winner couldn’t attend.

  • Ranchracer

    Thanks for a nice write-up, but how about some sound clips of those amazing racing engines? Oh right…Formula-E, the only formula car race where one can take a nap in relatively piece.

  • Mark1884

    Congrats on the win………. But I stopped reading at: “Timex on a velcro strap”

  • mtnsicl

    You earned it with this great write up. Although, I think they should have given you a watch in the whole deal. Welcome to the ABTW winners club. You’re part of our family now!

    • Ariel Adams

      I just want to say that we always push for our winners to get timepieces. Though brands have varying policies on this, and right now TAG Heuer has a policy of not giving away watches. So this wasn’t up to us, but we agree with you.

      • mtnsicl

        Oh, I realize its not your fault. It doesn’t make sense on their part though. it’s a tax write off and good marketing. I think what they did do for him was wonderful, though and I enjoyed the article.

        Hey, when you click on the reply to a comment in the email notification, it doesn’t take you to the comment. You have to search for it.

      • Moonraker

        They literally can’t spare a watch. All their extras are going towards an art installation by Alec Monopoly.

    • Moonraker

      Which piece did you win and are you enjoying it?

  • egznyc

    Nice job describing the experience. Helps to give the rest of us a vicarious thrill. Next time don’t forget to take some interesting watches for your wrist and without fear of offending your benefactor ;-). Glad Ariel was prepared to lend assistance.

  • cluedog12

    Great article John. I enjoyed living this event vicariously through you, although I skipped from Page 1 to Page 3. I tend to forget large sections of may day, so skipping a full page made sense to me.

  • Palettj

    The least they could have done was given you a quartz Tag Heuer F1 watch.

  • DaddyFlip

    Nice story. I loved your definition of VIP at the beginning. Shame s pic of the Velcro Timex didn’t make the cut; by chance is it an Easter egg / photobomb in one of the pics? Also a recap of the virtues of German watches under 2k would be interesting to hear.

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