At age 20, Edouard Heuer opened his watch making shop in the family farm, at Saint-Imier, producing pocket watches, mostly in silver.
In 1869, Edouard Heuer changed the course of watchmaking with his first patent, covering a crown-operated, keyless winding system.
In the 1880s, the company began to produce large quantities of pocket chronographs, which were used to time races on roads, cinder running tracks and over water.
Heuer introduced a patent to improve the “oscillating pinion.” This improvement allowed the chronograph to start and stop instantly with the use of a push-button. By streamlining the movement design, the oscillating pinion simplified the chronograph’s assembly and maintenance.
The colorful scale on Heuer’s new Sphygmometer pocket chronograph allowed physicians to determine the patient’s pulse rate, after counting heart beats for only 20 seconds.
Heuer designed a rugged instrument to be installed on the dashboards of automobiles. The “Time of Trip” was a precision chronograph, indicating the time of day on the main dial, while two hands on a smaller dial recorded the duration of a journey.
As wristwatches began to take the place of pocket watches, Heuer moved the precision chronograph from the pocket to the wrist. In 1914, the Heuer catalog described the wrist chronograph as something “unique on the market”.
Charles-Auguste Heuer, the son of Edouard Heuer, led a project to take stopwatches from 1/5 second to displays of 1/50 and 1/100 second. Split second versions soon followed, to show the time differential between two competitors.
The precision and reliability of Heuer’s stopwatches made them the choice for the world’s leading sporting events. Heuer was a supplier of chronographs for the Olympic Games, as well as world championships in alpine events.
Heuer introduced the “Autavia”, a name that would continue in its catalog for decades to come. The Autavia 12-hour stopwatch was a dashboard timer to meet the toughest AUTomotive and AVIAtion requirements.
Heuer’s Flieger chronograph was a two-register chronograph. The rotating coin-edge bezel included a triangular marker which was used to mark a time. Early models had a single pusher, but the later version added a second pusher so that the pilot could stop and restart the timer, without resetting it.
Historically, Heuer produced many watches and chronographs that either had no brand name on the dial. From 1940, Heuer would put its name on every dial, with the movements also being marked “Ed. Heuer”.
Heuer moved from two register chronographs to three register chronographs in the early 1940s, with the third recorder providing timing up to 12 hours.
By the late 1940s, Heuer would move beyond the traditional chronograph to offer innovative watches for sportsmen, travelers and other enthusiasts. These watches tracked the tide, the moon, speed over a measured distance or even a second time zone.
A colorful new watch was called the “Solunar”. Hunters, fishermen and sailors may derive important information by tracking the phase of the moon, as well as the time of high and low tides. Jack Heuer worked with his professor to make the calculations required to display both “lunar” time and the usual time of day (“solar” time).
Heuer soon added the rotating tide disc of the Solunar to a standard three-register chronograph, to produce the “Mareographe”. The sportsman could track the high and low tides, or the phases of the moon, on a chronograph with a 12-hour recorder.
In 1957, Heuer introduced an entirely new type of stopwatch, with the owner inserting brightly-colored, interchangeable rings to time different events. Each ring was a different color and incorporated a different scale.
Jack Heuer formally joined Ed. Heuer & Co. S.A., as the fourth-generation leader of the family business. The company discontinued sales of conventional wristwatches and focused on wrist chronographs, stopwatches and dashboard timing instruments for use in races and rallies.
On February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth and the first man to wear a Swiss timepiece in space. A Heuer stopwatch strapped to his wrist timed his 4 hour, 56 minute flight. In July 1969, another Heuer stopwatch would time the descent of The Eagle to the surface of the moon.
Heuer introduced the Carrera chronograph. It took its name from the Carrera Panamericana road race, a border-to-border race staged in Mexico, from 1950 to 1954. Dials were available with scales for tachymeter, decimal minutes or pulsometer, and included triple calendar models and cases in steel or gold.
Heuer acquired Leonidas, a leading maker of stopwatches and chronographs. The Leonidas acquisition greatly expanded Heuer’s line of stopwatches.
1968, Heuer introduced the Camaro, with an entirely new cushion-shaped case, the brand’s first move away from traditional round cases. The Camaro was popular with racers, most models being offered with a tachymeter scale on the dial.
Heuer provided the timing equipment used by the yacht Intrepid, when it defended America’s Cup off of Newport, Rhode Island. To celebrate the victory, in 1968, Heuer created a new chronograph, with colors matching the Intrepid. The dial displayed vivid blue, orange and green tones, with a 15-minute count-down recorder.
Through its sponsorship of Swiss Formula One hero Jo Siffert, Heuer became the first non-automotive logo to appear on a Formula One car.
Heuer would be the first to offer automatic chronographs in worldwide markets, with the Calibre 11 movement. The automatic Autavia, Heuer Carrera and Monaco were introduced in March 1969.
Bold automatic chronographs introduced by Heuer included the Calculator, which incorporated a circular slide rule, and the massive Montreal, with dial choices in blue, white, black and champagne. The Silverstone celebrated the England’s Formula One circuit, with red, blue or fume (smoke) dials. Heuer experimented with monocoque cases, with fiberglass used for the very exotic looking Temporada model.
Heuer pioneered electronic timing for the world’s leading racing teams, and this same type of technology soon made its way into chronographs. The 1975 Chronosplit appeared as a friendly robot, with its dual displays for the time and chronograph functions. The Manhattan was far more radical, its six-sided case housing both analog and digital displays.
After the excesses of the early 1970s, Heuer moved to more refined, elegant designs toward the end of the decade. The Cortina, Jarama, Monza and Verona celebrated European destinations for racing and other sports. The Daytona and Kentucky captured the excitement of racing venues in the United States, one for race cars and one for race horses. The models featured slimmer cases, many of them having integrated steel bracelets, designed for sport or elegant attire.
Heuer’s 1978 catalog was full of automatic and electronic chronographs, but in 1979 the company introduced the rugged dive watches that would become its future. Beginning with a handful of models, the dive watch catalog would be expanded to dozens of models, with automatic or quartz movements.
In the early 1980s, Heuer announced six unique functional features that would characterize its new series of dive watches. Four features are specifically identified with diving – 200 meter water resistance, a screw-down crown, a unidirectional bezel and a double clasp on the steel bracelet. Sapphire crystals and luminous markings ensured the utmost legibility. These features have been carried forward to today’s Aquaracer.
TAG Heuer responded to the introduction of a new paradigm in the world of watches, with a revolutionary collection of its own: the TAG Heuer Formula 1. The TAG Heuer Formula 1 offered the same style of bright colors, plastic cases, simple quartz movements and fun packaging. True to its dive watch heritage, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 had 200-meter depth rating and bezel, marked in minutes.
Following the introduction of many new models in the 1980s, by the mid-1990s, TAG Heuer would reconnect with the brand’s classic chronographs from the 1960s. In 1996, TAG Heuer relaunched the TAG Heuer Carrera, following the style of the original 1964 model in almost every detail. The Monaco would be re-issued in 1998, with an all-black dial.
Leading French luxury-goods group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired TAG Heuer in 1999. Jack Heuer, who had been forced to sell the family business in 1982, returned to TAG Heuer in 2001, as the company’s Honorary Chairman. He would make appearances all around the world, sharing the heritage of the brand with a new generation of enthusiasts.
The Monaco V4 Concept Watch introduced an entirely new approach to powering a mechanical watch, with construction that evokes a racing engine. This radical watch used an ingot on rails to produce power, tiny belts to transfer this power, and four barrels that mimic the lay-out of an engine block. Cases for the Monaco V4 have included platinum, titanium, carbon matrix composite, and rose gold, and TAG Heuer marked the 10th anniversary of the model with a tourbillon option.
In 2004, TAG Heuer introduced the Aquaracer line of watches, with roots going back to Heuer’s first dive watches from the early 1980s. The first generation Aquaracers offered a 300 meter depth rating, while the next generation (introduced in 2009) increased this to 500 meters.
In 2010, TAG Heuer released its first in-house chronograph movement, the Calibre 1887. The Calibre 1887 is an integrated movement, featuring a column wheel and the same style of oscillating pinion that Heuer had patented in 1887. The Calibre 1887 movement powered a new generation of TAG Heuer Carrera chronographs, and would serve as the basis for the Heuer 01 in-house movement.
In November 2015, TAG Heuer introduced the first Swiss luxury smartwatch, the TAG Heuer Connected watch. Residing in a TAG Heuer Carrera-style case, the Connected watch incorporated newly-developed technology from partners Intel and Google.
In March 2017, the style of the new Autavia had been selected by enthusiasts, choosing between 16 classic Autavia models in the “Autavia Cup” competition. Limited Editions of the Autavia have marked Jack Heuer’s 85th birthday and paid tribute to Swiss Formula One hero Jo Siffert, while other models have used color schemes from the “Viceroy” and “Orange Boy” Autavias.
The limited-edition Fragment Design TAG Heuer Carrera marked the debut of the Heuer 02 in-house movement in a TAG Heuer Carrera case. This movement uses the 3-6-9 layout of Heuer’s classic 1960s chronographs, and delivers 80 hour power reserve. Designed by street wear legend Hiroshi Fujiwara, the Fragment Design TAG Heuer Carrera drew inspiration from a rare three-register TAG Heuer Carrera produced in 1968.
The mark the 50th anniversary of the Monaco, TAG Heuer offered a series of five limited edition models, each reflecting the style of a decade. There was Olive Green for the 1970s, Victory Red for the 1980s, Industrial Gray for the 1990s, Black and White for the 2000s, and Deep Gray for the 2010s.