This year, Swiss avant-garde watch brand TAG Heuer has given its fans—and watch enthusiasts in general—a lavish spread of exciting new releases.
There are updates on the iconic Aquaracer and Carrera lines as well as eye-catching collaborations with Porsche and Nintendo. The latter, in particular, also highlights the continued success of TAG Heuer’s continued superiority in the realm of connected watches.
And who better to take us behind the scenes of the brand’s creative direction for the past year and beyond than Guy Bove, TAG Heuer’s Product Director and the mind behind many of 2021’s most exciting timepieces.
DAMAN: This year we’ve seen a lot of exciting releases from TAG Heuer, from the new generation Aquaracer to new functionalities for the Connected Watch family, new Formula 1 Chronograph models and more. All in all, is there an overarching theme, focus or perhaps message from TAG Heuer for 2021?
Guy Bove: For 2021, we were looking within each collection to capture the essence of our past and to move it firmly into the present and the future. In some cases, this meant a redesign; in other cases, a facelift. This approach is creating a clear understanding of each facet or territory of the brand and making each design family count. It is an interesting challenge: How can we come up with the best and most singular expression of each collection and each model.
DAMAN: Is there a particular model that is your personal favorite? Or perhaps a particular novelty that you feel is the absolute highlight for TAG Heuer’s 2021 lineup?
Guy Bove: I am personally a great fan of titanium. I have worn titanium watches for years and love both the light weight and the fact that titanium naturally adapts to the wearer’s temperature, making the watch feel very natural on the skin, so my go-to from this year’s novelties is the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to 844 using grade 5 Titanium which allows a similar finishing to steel, but with the light weight of titanium.
DAMAN: We’ve just learned that a new TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hands collection is about to launch. What makes this new collection special?
Guy Bove: As explained before, we are trying to express the pure singularity of each collection into a new more modern, dynamic range. The new TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hands collection of 13 pieces captures the elegance of our Carrera heritage in a highly legible 3-hand dial without sacrificing the sporty and more powerful design of our new elegant range. This new line will be presented in a wide range of sizes to fit all uses and tastes.
DAMAN: As expected from a TAG Heuer Carrera collection, the focus is definitely on readability and clean design. What is the main draw of rather minimalistic watches like these? Especially when compared to more instantly recognizable designs like, say, the Aquaracer…
Guy Bove: My opinion of the new range is that although it is quite traditional at a first glance, it is actually quite a contemporary watch with a very clear sporting character, high perceived value and a lot of depth of detail that will wear well through time. Also, although it is a three- hand watch, it has a large presence and a sporty spirit thanks to its wide and shallow bezel which gives it a bit of a speedometer feel. Lastly, it wears very elegantly on the wrist thanks to the slimmer three hand movement. I think what makes this new range really attractive is this classic-yet-modern style that still appeals today. It is really timeless. This new range is a worthy descendant of the iconic 1963 Heuer Carrera which is firmly anchored in the TAG Heuer DNA and which will appeal to all watch aficionados.
DAMAN: Speaking of which, the Aquaracer Professional 300 models definitely caught our attention. Can you give us a bit of insight into the development of this new generation Aquaracer?
Guy Bove: The introduction of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 collection marks a new chapter in TAG Heuer’s luxury tool watch story. Bold, refined, high-performing—these are watches for a new generation of divers, adventurers and urban explorers who want to go beyond the edge, to the place where they will find themselves. And this is just the beginning…
DAMAN: The Aquaracer is, of course, a very iconic line. Do you feel that there is an extra layer of pressure that comes with working on—or reworking—a collection with so much history and expectation behind it?
Guy Bove: It’s a very interesting collection to work on because it has evolved into a set of quite precise codes that are very recognizable and which is much loved by our customers. In fact, any pressure comes mainly from that we did not want to disappoint our customers with too much of a change, but at the same time we wanted to make the product even more “right” and rework several important features of the watch. Therefore, it took several years to perfect this evolution. We’re quite excited about this launch and happy about the overall design. We think that the Aquaracer origins are still pretty obvious, and equally now those of the 844 model, but also that it has evolved into a subtly more sophisticated product. So, we are very excited to see the birth of this new generation.
DAMAN: On a somewhat related note, are there any unique challenges that come with designing vintage or tribute pieces such as the Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844?
Guy Bove: The main challenge is that at TAG Heuer, we do not believe in a strict revival of historic watches. We believe much more in taking inspiration from specific references and designs, but blending them with modern techniques and modern codes of design to build an entirely new watch that will resonate with the past. This is what we did with the Heuer Ref. 844 tribute we have now. It is the new case, the new shape, but with elements of colors, of these markings, the hours, 13 to 24 that we took from the historic piece.
DAMAN: What would you say is it that makes the Aquaracer collection so popular and highly- sought-after?
Guy Bove: We designed the TAG Heuer Aquaracer as the luxury tool watch, one that is ready for anything, that is the perfect companion for extreme sports and adventures, but also that stands out when worn day-to-day thanks to its refinement and style. With its new range and the way that they wear exceptionally well on the wrist, we speak to young, modern, sporty, stylish clients, it’s a watch that appeals to a lot of customers because it’s very versatile and can be adapted to any situation.
DAMAN: TAG Heuer is arguably still the leading name in the luxury connected watch arena. How do you plan to maintain and expand this lead?
Guy Bove: Our Connected Watch is a unique offering on the market. We are developing everything with the unique savoir-faire of our watchmaking heritage. It offers the best of a connected experience that is fully customizable with the feeling of having a real watch. We are always trying to push the boundaries even further to offer the best connected watch on the luxury market.
DAMAN: In July this year we saw the launch of the TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition, which came as quite a surprise. In general, what do you look for in potential collaborators or design partners? Especially when it’s not brands like, say, Porsche which already have a shared history with TAG Heuer…
Guy Bove: A good partnership should always surprise our fans and customers, because we are always trying to keep our clientele entertained and involved in our history and in our vision of innovation. For the collaboration with Nintendo, Super Mario was the clear choice. Not only for his international and intergenerational appeal, but also because Mario is the ultimate super-active character whose perseverance and tenacity gets him out of every situation. He’s an authentic embodiment of TAG Heuer’s “don’t crack under pressure” motto and perfectly complements the brand’s passion for action and competition as well as its avant-garde, unconventional spirit. We want our partnerships to be genuine and real, that’s the most important point. Our Porsche collaboration, however, was more obvious and “expected” as we share a lot of history together.
DAMAN: On that note, however, can you tell us a bit about how TAG Heuer and Porsche worked together on the TAG Heuer Porsche Carrera Chronograph?
Guy Bove: This project embodies the perfect balance of both worlds. We started working on this project well before the launch of our new TAG Heuer Carrera model. Porsche’s team had seen the future design of the range so we met and organized several workshops to understand what were the important shared values and branding of Porsche and TAG Heuer Carrera. We wanted to emphasize the sporty side of the partnership, and the idea of seeing the track from behind the wheel of the car. So, we decided to develop a dedicated dial with an asphalt texture. In the process of connecting the watch design with that of the car, we decided together to look at the 911 interior and we included the new Porsche typeface for the large applied numerals. We also designed the internal bezel of the dial to recapture the feel of the 911 dashboard. The steering wheel served as the design reference for the movement rotor. And last but not least, the leather strap recaptures not only the feel of Porsche interior leather but also the way that the different parts of the seats and interior is assembled, complete with parting lines and stitching.
DAMAN: In general, how do you approach the task of designing a new collection? What is your usual starting point?
Guy Bove: I typically start from hand sketches of the case and details of the dial such as indexes, hands and a new typeface. Once I sense the direction I want to take, I quickly move straight into 3D where I build up a complete watch to make sure that proportions and reflections, different heights and depths are optimized. From there, once the design is validated, the 3D model makes its way to our engineering department where it is studied and optimized for waterproofing, durability, etc.
DAMAN: What would you say is the most challenging stage of creating a new watch or watch collection?
Guy Bove: Understanding who the customer will be and translating the spirit of TAG Heuer into the right watch for her or him.
DAMAN: In your opinion, what has been the most significant change in terms of watch design or production from, say, the past year? And on the flip side, what would you say are the biggest changes to look out for in the year to come?
Guy Bove: It takes longer than a year to make a significant change. But here at TAG Heuer, for sure we are working hard on ergonomics, fine-tuning our product ranges to make sure that they are clearly understandable and suited to purpose, and in general looking forward to the future.
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