It’s a partnership that’s simply iconic. Porsche and TAG Heuer are each giants of their respective worlds: car manufacturing and watchmaking. Two luxury brands with amazing and enduring worldwide reach.
It’s little wonder that the pair have forged so much history together. And although racing fans perhaps just think of the sticker on the car, the two brands have enjoyed a much more far-reaching and practical collaboration.
More than any other watch company, Heuer (which later became TAG Heuer) is synonymous with motorsport. And the partnership with Porsche, which has been in place since 1963, is now entering an even more developed stage as Porsche and TAG Heuer will work together to create the new TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph and part of a recently-announced long-term collaboration.
Racing the Carrera
The origins of their association go back even earlier: to the 1950s, when motor racing was a sport contested by gladiators rather than athletes. It was a sporting scene fraught with danger and death; trench warfare on four wheels.
Look at the iconic TAG Heuer Carrera watch: named of course after the Porsche Carrera, which in turn takes its name from the Carrera Panamericana. This was a no-holds barred road race across Mexico, which took no prisoners – won by Porsche in 1954.
There’s another reason why Mexico is key to the partnership between Porsche and TAG Heuer. Two Mexican brothers had such an impact on company boss Jack Heuer in the 1960s that motor racing became an obsession, which inevitably led him to Porsche.
Those brothers were the Rodriguez siblings: Pedro and Ricardo. Jack Heuer met them at Sebring in 1963, and it was they who told him about the Carrera Panamericana: sowing the seeds for Jack’s latest idea. At the time, the brothers were driving for Ferrari, but Pedro in particular would go on to make a name for himself with Porsche. Sadly, both would perish in racing accidents before witnessing just how successful the Porsche-TAG Heuer partnership became, but their influence cannot be underestimated.
The lure of the silver screen
Such was the popularity of the Heuer Carrera (launched in December 1963) that many of the leading motor racing drivers of the 60s, 70 and 80s wore the timepiece throughout their careers. Bruce McLaren, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna – to name but a few – carried the Heuer and Carrera names on their wrists wherever they travelled. Heuer went on to launch a series of watches named after famous racing circuits too, from Monza to Montreal.
But it was the cinema that probably cemented the symbiosis between Porsche, Heuer and motorsport. One of the most enduring cinematic images of all time is Steve McQueen with the Heuer brand on his overalls for the 1971 film Le Mans.
McQueen had been inspired by another real racing driver – Jo Siffert, sponsored by Heuer – whose overalls he requested to imitate for the movie. In 2005, at the premiere of the film Jo Siffert: “Live Fast, Die Young”, Jack Heuer remembered the terms of their contract: “In exchange for CHF 25,000 [around £20,000] he would put our logo on his car and suit. In addition, he could buy our watches at wholesale prices and resell them to his racing friends at a substantial profit. Which he did with great success because half of the paddock was wearing Heuer watches by the end of the 1969 season!”
It was this connection that led Steve McQueen to wear the Heuer logo on his racing suit during the filming of Le Mans in 1970, in which he drove a Porsche 917. The American actor said at the time, “I drive the same car as Jo Siffert, so I want to wear the same suit as him.”
Siffert regularly wore a Heuer Autavia, but the Le Mans film makers wanted something a bit more distinctive for fictional Porsche driver Michael Delaney: which is how McQueen ended up wearing the iconic square Monaco.
Into the future
But it wasn’t just on the sponsorship and marketing side that TAG Heuer made an impact with Porsche. When the McLaren Formula 1 team ran Porsche engines in the 1980s, Heuer’s parent company TAG Group were the brand associated with the powerplant that took McLaren to the world titles in 1984, 1985 and 1986.
TAG Heuer and Porsche have remained close partners ever since and the watchmaker currently sponsors for the Porsche team in the all-electric Formula E World Championship.
Now, Porsche and TAG Heuer are opening another brand new chapter together thanks to what they call a “new strategic partnership” – which will result in many more Porsche-inspired watches in the future.
Detlev von Platen, a member of Porsche’s executive board, announced the news at the beginning of April 2021 and said: “The strong friendship of our brand with TAG Heuer exists for decades and I am more than happy that we are now taking the next step. We bring together what our customers love most about both of us: authentic heritage, thrilling sports events, unique life experiences and the fulfilment of dreams.
We both strive to create some unique magic moments for our communities. We now look forward to doing it together.”
And we can’t wait to see the new watches…