This review has been a long time coming, personally I have been collecting watches for nearly six years and although I’ve owned dozens of watches, not a single one has been a Tag Heuer. A seemingly elusive brand for me, I am quite excited to have gotten my hands on a nice example of what Tag Heuer has to offer in Watch Report’s preferred sub-$1000 range. The current model F1 Grande Date expands on Heuer’s extensive history in motor sports and indeed isn’t so much a revolution of the F1 line as it is yet another evolution.
- 44 x 12.5 mm
- Sapphire Crystal
- Rhonda 6004B Quartz
- Titanium carbide crown and unidirectional bezel
- Luminous markers and skeleton hands
- Screwdown crown
- 200m WR
- Available with bracelet or rubber strap
- Grande Date and small second at 6 o’clock
- MSRP $950
Tag Heuer is one of the best known Swiss watch brands in the entire world, they have been making watches for 150 years and are credited with creating one of the first automatic chronographs. Tag Heuer also has a long standing history with motor sports, which lead to the development of famous models like the Monza, Silverstone, and Monaco, to name only a few. The more recent F1 line up continues their tradition of creating sport watches that are at built well enough to agree with a sporting lifestyle without compromising on personal style. Seeing how entry levels models from high end brands can often seem like shadows of their older (more expensive) siblings, I was a little concerned when I bought this Tag as a review unit not only for the Tag F1 line, but also the Tag Heuer Brand.
The F1 Grande Date comes in a fairly basic black plastic box, once opened the watch is found mounted on a black pillow. Standard fare but the box could be nicer for the price (you get nicer boxes from boutique brands). This model is mounted to the black rubber strap that proudly proclaims Tag Heuer on both lengths. The look is different from the Brietling and Panerai signed rubber straps, this one is more similar to the printing on the side wall of a tire, I like this strap quite a bit. The style of this Tag is best described as monochrome, its large black bezel, and instrument inspired dial almost appears to be in black and white. The numbers on the bezel are silver-tone, not white. The side of the minimalistic case is stamped with “Tag Heuer” while the other side houses the crown and crown guard, in a black finish. The crown is signed and made out of titanium carbide, making it very light and easy to use. The crown is wider than the the case edge so its simple to use, no pinching is necessary. You get a sapphire crystal and a lovely light action bezel that is usable and very easy to read. The dial layout is very nice and features luminous markers and numerals around the dial and a very nicely finished spiral sub dial for the seconds and the “Grande Date”. There is a small flaw in the luminous paint, seen in the video, where the small lumed points on the skeleton hands are not the same shade of blue as is used on the numerals and markers. They are slightly greener.
As the F1 Grande Date is a quartz watch the sub seconds tick away but because its displayed on a small dial I frequently forgot it was a quartz movement. The Rhonda 6004B is accurate to -10/+20 seconds per month. A well regulated mechanical movement would be in the same range, but cost far more money. This Tag is not radio calibrated nor does it even have a top-tier movement under the dial. Tag has chosen a swiss quartz workhorse movement with a big date complication and a 40 month battery life.
Since they have saved by leaving out an automatic movement and fancy packaging, what do you get for the MSRP of $950? Polish. The fit and finish of the Tag is well above what is expected for an entry level piece and its clear that Tag isn’t phoning it in, even on the models that don’t have as much prestige as their Carrera or Aquaracer line. The 12.5 mm tall case is easy to wear and seems to be mostly dial/bezel as there is very little visible case and no lugs at all. The design is functional and sporty while retaining some class and legibility. The markers have plenty of lume but the tips of the skeleton hands are simply too small to hold enough paint to be especially functional. In bright or even low light situations the contrast of the dial is of more value than its luminosity.
As both an entry level piece and my introduction to the brand the F1 Grande Date is very nice. We hope to get a few more Tag Heuers reviewed on Watch Report, but felt this was a good starting point. The F1 Grande Date can be found online from reputable retailers for $695 dollars. A very agreeable price given the simple technology, reliability and build quality seen in this piece. If you do not mind changing a few batteries, this, or any other F1 should make a good sports watch for many years.
By James Stacey