50 years of Tag Carrera
Half a century ago, one of the ultimate driving watches was born. Here's its story
Posted: 28 Oct 2013
THE FERRARI CONNECTION
In 1971, Enzo Ferrari asked his driver Clay Regazzoni to find suitable timing equipment for the company to use at Le Mans. Jack Heuer did a deal with Ferrari soon after, becoming the Scuderia's official timekeeper, in F1 and also at the newly opened Fiorano circuit, combining trackside photovoltaic cells with a device called the Le Mans Centigraph. Essentially an electronic keyboard and printer, it could record the times of 15 cars down to 1/1000th second, giving Ferrari a technological edge. From 1971 to 1979, Ferrari legends such as Jacky Ickx, Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve were given solid-gold Heuer watches, engraved with their name and blood type. In 1975, Heuer launched the Chronosplit, the world's first quartz wrist chronograph with a double digital display. Enzo Ferrari ordered 15 as gifts for friends, with the Prancing Horse logo either side of the LCD. In return, Heuer got its famous red logo on the nose of the Scuderia's cars.
"Our agreement with Ferrari was key - it is the biggest marketing coup we ever made," Jack Heuer remembers. "Ferrari was a myth and still is. I was the same age as Enzo's lost son Dino, and I just seemed to connect with him. He was a great salesman and a ferocious negotiator. He would always push for more than we could deliver. But the deal was done on the spot and signed with Enzo Ferrari, using his trademark pen with violet ink. A fantastic time."