Christmas is just around the corner. Gift-shopping season is here, and I can imagine that the Christmas gift that is on top of most people’s minds is that one special gift for a significant other. I’ve always had a hard time choosing gifts for loved ones, especially with picking presents that I feel should last a lifetime. I was able to find that one exquisite gift last year and thought I’d share it with you.
Last Christmas, I was looking for that one special gift for my husband, Tetsuya. We had just gotten engaged and I wanted to buy a really special gift for him. I went through a mental list: Cuff links . . too common; a tailored suit . . . won’t last a lifetime; a car . . . a little too expensive (after all, I was going to start business school); a luxury brand luggage . . . I was working at the LVMH Group, so why not make the best of my resources? But then again, I thought that a bag wasn’t emotional enough for the occasion.
After fretting through list after list and running in and out of stores, I came back to the very brand I worked for – TAG Heuer. At the time, I was an advertising manager for TAG Heuer in Japan and working on promoting the Classic Series. As I considered all the models, I became caught up in the passion and history of the Carrera model and ended up buying it for my husband. This luxury watch was not only a practical gift but also one with a strong legacy.
Anyone who knows TAG Heuer or even owns one (I’ve noticed many students are TAG Heuer fans), is probably familiar with the sports-inspired LINK and 2000 Series, or the F1 spirited Kirium and the sensual and elegant lines of Alter Ego. Funny enough as well-liked as these brands are, their popularity is almost incomparable to the Classic Series in the view of watch connoisseurs around the world. I wish to write briefly about the world of the Classic Series, a brand I’m very passionate about and a place where the spirit of automobile racing meets the fines craftsmanship of TAG Heuer.
Since its founding in 1860, TAG Heuer has had a close relationship with motor sports. The founder, Edouard Heuer, endeavored in his small Swiss workshop to capture the moments in timekeeping. His passion brought revolutionary timepieces to life from the first chronograph mechanism in 1882 to the first dashboard chronograph in 1911. The brand captured the first 1/100 of a second in a chronograph called the Micrograph and then the first 1/1000 in Microtimer. Heuer’s avant-garde spirit and performance led to the official time keeping position for F1 and sponsorships of motor races. Today, this tradition is carried on by Edouard’s great grandson, Jack Heuer.
Jack carries on the Heuer tradition of motor sports passion. In 1960s, he learned about a legendary race called the “La Carrera Panamericana Mexico,” from two young and famous racers, the Rodriguez brothers. This grueling and dangerous race, held in the 1950s, took place on the 1,934 mile long highway that cut across Mexico from the US border in the North to the remote Guatemala border in the South. The challenge of the race was not only in the distance that had to be covered in 72 hours, but in the altitude (ten thousand feet above sea level), temperature (from scorching hot to close to freezing levels), and the steep curves (no luxury of smooth concrete roads that we enjoy today). In the first race, only 47 of the 58 participants crossed the finish line. Jack was strongly inspired by this challenging course and the courage of the drivers and decided to dedicate a new chronograph he was working on to the race and its heroes; this watch was christened the Carrera in 1964. When Jack became chairman of TAG Heuer, he sought to bring back such memorable timepieces that truly captured the brand’s motor racing spirit. This was the start of the Classic Series, the re-birth of historical timepieces with modern technologies.
In late 2003, I had the wonderful opportunity to advertise Carrera. I met regularly with high fashion magazines such as GQ to discuss how best to capture the spirit of the timepiece in the ad. It was a busy advertising period and I was running in and out of meetings and to photo shooting sessions, constantly talking about Carrera to magazine editors, writers, photographers and fashion models, but I never got sick of talking about the watch. In fact, the more I talked about Carrera, the more I became caught up in the passion of Jack Heuer and the “La Carrera Panamericana” Race. The magazine editors were also fascinated by the legacy behind the watch. Such an emotionally charged history made my advertising creative efforts a lot easier!
After revisiting my “passionate” experience with Carrera, I decided it was the natural Christmas gift for my husband. I bought him a Carrera Twin Time, an automatic watch (i.e., it’s not battery powered but mechanical and winds itself up automatically as you wear it). I happily presented the gift on December 25, 2003 and he was overjoyed! He went over the details of the watch with me all day and as I explained how it worked, I could tell that he was quite impressed. He could see that this was not just another expensive watch but one with a legacy. The watch had beautiful craftsmanship, hand applied hour markers, diamond polished hands, and a crocodile leather belt. It has two time zone settings, hence the name Twin Time. This feature has been quite useful for him since I started school – he still lives in Tokyo.
If you are fretting over a gift to give your loved one this Christmas, based on my experience I’d recommend a watch from the Classic Series of TAG Heuer. The model goes for both genders. It’s not a gift to be taken lightly since it has a lot of passion in it and it’s more expensive than the LINK or 2000 Series. But if you are looking for that one memorable and striking gift, it’s the ideal present. With our student budgets – yes unfortunately there is such a thing called reality – we may not be able to afford such a luxury item today but it’s a great idea to keep in mind. Because if you are going to give a present, why not give one that’s not only marked with fine craftsmanship but also with a legacy. Such a timepiece will keep your special moments with your loved one even more memorable.
Another TAG Heuer?
For those who prefer something more edgy, I recommend the Monaco Steve McQueen Edition from the Classic Series. Introduced in 1969 and inspired by the F1 Monaco Race Track, the square case design and beautiful blue face has caught the hearts of watchmakers and celebrities all around the world, especially that of Steve McQueen who wore it the auto-racing movie, Le Mans. The exquisite design of yesteryear is even more relevant and stylish today.