Most watch collectors will pay generous lip-service to at least some of TAG Heuer’s most classic watches: The Carrera, the Monaco, and the Monza are a few excellent examples of racing chronographs, and deserve their status in the pantheon of prize-tickers. Thusly, kicking off the discussion of if TAG Heuer watches make a good investment.
But the truth is these watches are very much rooted in the past. The designs may seem as relevant as ever, but these models are holdovers from the Heuer era. It’s arguable that the finest iterations of these classics came before the 1985 acquisition by TAG. The sixties and seventies, while the company was under the watchful eye of Jack Heuer, are regarded as the golden years. Nowadays we’re seeing occasionally hollow ‘homage’ pieces – rarely more keenly illustrated than with 2017’s re-release of the Autavia – that nod to the era of dials that bore but one name.
Quality vs. Reputation
It’s fair to say that TAG Heuer uses one of the most aggressive and successful marketing agencies in watchmaking. Their relentless recruitment of serious star-power to pump-up the public perception of their wares roils between startling for its effectiveness, and perplexing for it’s brazenness.
It seems almost as if TAG Heuer have an entire department dedicated to seeking out bare-wristed celebrities and sports people. It certainly attracts a new generation to ‘luxury’ timepieces, by providing a relatively affordable entry-point for a brand that has almost as much recognition as Rolex or Omega, but a hell of a lot more youth appeal, but this does come at a cost.
TAG Heuer’s willingness to bust their way into the entry-level price point regardless of the sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. The quality of the most affordable TAG Heuer watches – which are basically brand bait – is below what you would expect from a ‘luxury’ brand of such esteemed heritage: The finishing can be found lacking, and level of detailing reduced. This is fine for a young guy who desperately wants a TAG (they exist in their droves), but it is a red flag for collectors. So, for collectors, the answer to do TAG Heuer watches make a good investment, is no.
Back in Time
Pre-TAG Heuer watches are pretty cool, but it’s hard to find good stuff. Probably because of the enduring popularity of Heuer’s most classic models, the demand, and price tag is often too high to expect a monetary return on it for many years. If you spot a vintage Heuer in good condition (especially if it has box and papers – some of the boxes sell for a thousand bucks alone) at a good price, you’d be wise to pick it up. For me, the modern collection offers nothing at all from an investment perspective (despite how interesting their top-end pieces are), and the brand’s keenness to capitalise on the sudden interest in Smart watches has done nothing but diminish its reputation in the minds of the people who care most about protecting the legacy of luxury Swiss watchmaking.
But while the vintage stuff is unlikely to make you rich, the quality and dexterity of design found in these early models could very well enrich your life.
About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.05