TAG Tribute To GP Driver Watches Misses The Point

Once Heuer used to pay GP drivers on commission for selling their watches in the paddocks of Europe. Some drivers also received special gold watches from Jack H in honour of their sterling efforts on track. It’s great to celebrate that glorious Grands Prix racing era, but this blingy pastiche isn’t hitting the spot for us.

For £17,850 you would like to get a solid 18K case, with solid 18K buckle. Hopefully it is solid 18K.

But reading the press blurb from TAG all I can see is some waffle about an 18K 3 N case – what is that exactly, is it hallmarked 750? Can’t see a hallmark in any photos, but watch hallmarks are often inside the caseback, or hidden in the lugs to be fair.

Just for clarity, you probably cannot sell the “gold” content of this 18K plated watch if times are hard, well not for its bullion weight per gram.

Why? Because the alloy mix costs time and money to separate. That is true of all gold jewellery, but with watches, you have to carefully remove the movement from the case, plus pushers, stem, crown and crystal – all of which are definitely not gold. Extra work and then melting one item for the gold content is an expensive process, most commercial smelting operations don’t want to do that.

Having worked in jewellery for six years I can tell you 18K gold is fragile stuff, which is why Swatch Group and others mix it with other metals to harden it. Otherwise, like an old 60s presentation gold watch, the soft 18K gold wears away, which is why you often cannot read the inscription to Herbert Postlethwaite, for 48 years of service at Spragthorpe Engine Works..

Much as I love old John Player F1 cars and Norton bikes from the 70s, plus that gold BMW F900 naked bike, I would baulk at paying a fortune for a gold watch, especially with a TAG name on it. To me, TAG isn’t a luxury brand like Patek, Vacheron, Mille, Arnold, A Lange etc. It’s Championship, not Premiership. Why? It’s about mass production and marketing for me, not sheer watchmaking excellence and in-house manufacture.

Apart from the gold content this is the same as a stock Carrera, with the 02 Calibre movement. You get a travel pouch, not a box with this one too.

What I wanted from TAG in re-imagining their gold racing driver watches from the 70s was something that mixes old school design details, with a tweaked 100 hour movement, plus a range of driver named straps/bracelets, so you could choose the Andretti, Peterson, Hunt, Lauda etc. Essentially, I want an AMG or Alpina TAG Carrera, not the stock showroom model – see where I’m going?

Verdict; This blinged up Carrera is one for Love Island celebs and Gulf TikTok playboys. Invest 18K in a pre-owned Rolex Daytona instead, at least you have a higher resale value.

 

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