TAG Heuer Formula 1 | Kith

Start Your Engines! TAG Heuer & Kith are Bringing the OG Formula 1 Back

The dream of the 1980s and the flex of the 2020s come together with this limited-edition tribute to Series 1.

By Rhonda Riche

Those who know me know I am obsessed with the original TAG Heuer Formula 1 watch.

Launched in 1986, this pop-toned timepiece was the first collection launched by the newly merged Swiss brand Heuer and the French company Techniques d’Avant-Garde (TAG). The first generation F1 watches also employed an innovative case constructed using a stainless steel inner case coated with fiberglass, which allowed for futuristic surface finishes.

Plus, unlike its Crayola-colored competitor, Swatch, the F1 had premium touches, like a sapphire crystal and generously lumed markers and hands. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the F1 bore the esteemed TAG Heuer name, but its wide-ranging color combinations and distinctive design (gotta catch ‘em all) are what captivated enthusiasts.

Basically, the OG F1 was catnip for would-be collectors. Luckily, the F1 was also accessibly priced, making it the perfect gateway drug for an aspiring watch addict. Fun Fact: Tom Brady once told me that the F1 was the first watch that he bought for himself.

Alas, as a teen, it was still too rich for my blood. And, as I have written before, any armchair psychologist would tell you that my preoccupation with timepieces comes from a desire to recapture my youth by collecting the watches I couldn’t afford at the time.

I do have a pair of OG F1s. But that hasn’t stopped me from campaigning for a reissue. And today, all fans of the First Generation’s manifestations have been answered with the TAG Heuer Formula 1 x Kith!

Just For Kicks

I was not alone in calling for a reissue. For the last four years, there have been murmurings that such a project was in the works. At the same time, it seemed that TAG Heuer would have a hard time reconciling the identity crises caused by adding under $2,000 to its high-end lineup.

“The rebirth of the original TAG Heuer Formula 1 watch is something the collector community has been clamoring after for years,” confirmed Julien Tornare, the CEO of TAG Heuer. But just as the 1986 Formula 1 Series came out during a pivotal moment in timepiece history (the turning of the tide in the quartz crisis), this collaboration with Kith marks a change in the culture of watchmaking.

If you aren’t familiar with the brand, Kith is the brainchild of Ronnie Fieg, who was one of the earliest proponents of designer collaborations. In fact, over the years, Fieg has worked with shoemakers like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Red Wing. Although he started in sneakers, Kith later expanded to streetwear and fashion, partnering with influential artists like Danial Arsham.

Fieg puts the cool in collaboration. And that will help TAG Heuer reach an audience beyond the watch-collecting community. “This was also his first watch when he was younger,” Tornare continued. “It is one of the most meaningful pieces in TAG Heuer’s history. The first to wear the TAG Heuer name, [the Formula 1] introduced a generation of collectors to our commitment to making premium timepieces at the intersection of culture and motorsports.”

Fieg also has bona fides that appeal to die-hard Heuer enthusiasts. Alongside his museum-worthy assortment of sneakers, he started his watch journey with a red-and-black first-gen Formula 1 and has since amassed a serious collection of prestigious vintage watches.

By Design

As a designer, Feig has had fun revisiting the postmodern aesthetic of the 1980s. As I wrote in this story about iconic 1980s watches from 2020:

“It was an era when eccentric and colorful Memphis-style furniture co-existed with edgy cyberpunk styles. And it was an era when the preppy pastels and popped collars of Ralph Lauren roamed the earth at the same time as the angular fashions of designers such as Thierry Mugler, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Giorgio Armani.”

This reboot reignites the ‘80s spirit of the Formula 1 Series by blending TAG Heuer’s venerable history with Kith’s luxe streetwear aesthetic. The original supplier of the case was even tracked down (along with the very same mold used for the pieces made in 1986)!

Other original elements include details like the Mercedes hour hand, a triangle with a dot at 12 o’clock, indices that alternate every quarter-hour between shields and dots, and a contrasting minute track. Finally, to keep the TAG Heuer Formula 1 x Kith fun, it’s powered by a quartz movement, just like the OG F1.

At the same time, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 x Kith is not a carbon copy reissue. There are ten new vibrant colorways, an upgraded sapphire crystal, and it comes on a stainless steel bracelet or rubber straps instead of plastic (the part where the old-style band broke is a heartbreaking memory I’ve heard from many original owners – as recently as this weekend).

Moreover, the TAG and Kith logos appear independently on each of these editions alongside a reimagined insignia that cleverly merges both. Kith’s “Just Us” motto also appears just above the 6 o’clock marker.

Most significant for Feig is the importance the OG F1 played in his own design story: “It was an honor for me to be able to play a part in bringing TAG Heuer’s Formula 1 Series 1 back to life,” Feig explained. “The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Series 1 in red and black was my very first watch, the timepiece that helped me express the unique style that’s now manifested itself in Kith.”

Pricing & Availability

Each priced at CHF 1,500, the ten new 35mm watches are broken into two categories: a stainless steel bracelet edition or a rubber bracelet edition.

Seven watches are exclusive to Kith, and each pays tribute to a store in its global network, with five of these models being limited to 250 pieces each. The final two Kith boutique exclusives both come on steel bracelets, but one features a blue bezel and white dial, while the other has a green bezel and cream dial. This pair is limited to 350 pieces each.

Finally, the two models exclusive to TAG Heuer are limited to 825 pieces each and feature a black PVD case, a black dial, a green or blue bezel and minute track, and a color-matching rubber bracelet.

The first edition will launch in-stores only in Miami on Friday, May 3rd, followed by the global launch on May 6th. For more information, check out the Kith or TAG Heuer websites.

(Images © TAG Heuer)

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