History of Heuer

Vintage Heuer Carrera on a Caramel Watchstrap by Ryoko Bags


The story starts in 1860 with a 20-year-old boy, Edouard Heuer, who after apprenticing as a watchmaker for 6 years, started his own shop, Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG, in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. In just a few years, he began inventing many improvements that would go on to change the world of watchmaking. Heuer patented one of the most important inventions in 1887: the oscillating pinion, which greatly simplified the chronograph and made it more precise and easier to manufacture and is still used by many major watchmakers today.


History of Heuer | Ryoko BagsImage from onthedash.com


Heuer time-pieces had a reputation for being highly precise, and that continued into the 20th century with the company constantly improving their watches. When they developed the Heuer Mikrograph, the most accurate mechanical stop watch at the time, Heuer instruments started popping up at all kinds of sporting events, even the olympics. In fact, Heuer was the official timekeeper of three consecutive Olympic Games in the 1920s in Antwerp, Paris, and Amsterdam. You could say that’s really when their relationship with sports began.

Heuer Mikrograph | Ryoko BagsImage from calibre11.com


It wasn’t until the 1940s that Heuer started developing a line of wristwatches though, and the end of that decade brought another incredible Heuer invention. Abercrombie and Fitch asked Heuer to make a watch that could predict the tides, and with help from 15-year-old Jack Heuer -great grandson of Edouard Heuer- and his science teacher, they came out with the Solunar, a watch that did just that. 

Abercrombie and Fitch Heuer | Ryoko BagsImage from gearpatrol.com


A fourth generation Heuer, Jack became the head of the Heuer Watch Company at 28 and started a new, exciting era for the brand. He implemented many interesting marketing ideas, including sponsoring race car driver Jo Siffert and later making a deal with Ferrari, and introduced one of, if not the most, iconic wristwatches for the brand in 1963, the Heuer Carrera. Named after the Carrera Panamericana race held in Mexico, it was made specifically for race car drivers with a clean, uncluttered, and ultra-legible design and remains one of Heuers most important watches to date. 

Heuer Carrera on a Ryoko Bags Caramel Watchstrap

The end of the 60s however, brought a breakthrough in horological technology. Heuer, in partnership with Breitling, Buren, and Dubois-Depraz, created the first automatic chronograph movement in the world. That same year, they came out with what is perhaps the most famous of their watches thanks to film legend Steve Mcqueen, the Heuer Monaco. The Monaco was instantly distinctive not only for being the first sports watch with a square case, but also for being the first watch to combine a square case, round dial, and the automatic chronograph movement, named calibre 11.

 STEVE MCQUEEN & THE ICONIC TAG HEUER MONACO | Ryoko BagsImage from dmarge.com


Yet the late 1970s and early 80s were not a good time for Heuer. The popularization of quartz caused the Heuer Watch Company and many others to struggle. And so in 1982 Jack Heuer, the last of the name to be at the helm of the company, stepped down as CEO and the company was sold to Saudi business group Techniques d’Avant Garde, and Heuer became TAG Heuer. The company continued its close association with sports and successfully released a collection of sports watches. They also revived and reissued a number of watches from the classic range of Heuer watches, staying faithful to their original designs, including the Carrera and the Monaco. 

Heuer Monaco | Ryoko BagsImage from Tag Heuer

The company again changed hands in 1999 when TAG sold TAG Heuer to LVMH, a luxury multinational corporation. LVMH appointed Jean Christophe Babin as CEO who consulted with Jack Huer in 2001 and eventually offered him a position as honorary chairman of the company. So for the next decade, Jack Heuer was again the face of the company his ancestor founded.

Vintage Heuer Carrera on Caramel Watchstrap by Ryoko Bags