Close this search box.

On Time, Motor-racing and Gender Neutral

In conversation with Nicholas Biebuyck, Heritage Director Tag Heuer

Nicolas Biebuyck

During Watches & Wonders, ELLE Egypt Egypt CEO Mouna Khalfallah met up with Tag Heuer’s Heritage Director Nicholas Biebuyck.  In an exclusive interview, the passionate collector of antique watches shared his insight on the ongoing successful synergy between watches and motor racing and today’s perception of gender-neutral watches.

To get the bigger picture it is important to remember the brand’s history, which has a very special connection to the Middle East. Tag Heuer which is today 164 years old was from 1860 to 1982 a Swiss family-run business founded by Edouard Heuer. In 1985 the business was acquired by Techniques d’Avant Garde, a company formed in 1977 by Syrian-born businessman Akram Ojjeh and was, until his death, led by his son Mansour Ojjeh. LVMH purchased the TAG Heuer subsidiary in 1999.

Steve McQueen in Le Mans, 1970

According to Biebuyck, It was Ojjeh who got Saudi Arabia interested in sponsoring Formula 1 teams back in the 1970s. But it was also from the very beginning that the brand was focused on the chronograph and timekeeping. Once motor racing emerged as a discipline, the Swiss watchmaker was the obvious choice for timing the races and being on the dashboards to keep time for everyone. Over the years, the company would do technical developments to support the timekeeping. A key moment was working with drivers in the 60s who would be wearing the watches. By 1971, Heuer would become a time-keeping partner for Ferrari, which would put the gold Carreras on the wrists of the drivers. By 1992 Tag Heuer became the official timekeeping partner for Formula 1 which lasted until 2004. Since 2016 the company has been a key partner of Red Bull Racing

“Every brand wants to talk about motor racing as a thing, but for us, we’ve been connected to the teams for 60, 70 years. In fact, it’s been more than a hundred years now that we’ve been the preferred timekeepers, so if anyone can talk about motor racing, it’s us.” 

Foremost associated with a man’s watch, appealing to the opposite sex is a very important topic Biebuyck likes to explore. He explains that the Swiss watch industry historically was a very conservative one, which meant it wasn’t so inclusive. Luckily, he explains, there’s a few new players coming on board and Tag Heuer is lucky to have Frederik Arnault as the CEO, who is a lot younger than your average CEO. What that meant was a fresh vision and perspective, for a generation that does not care about gender per say. They don’t listen to a brand saying this is a men’s watch and this is a women’s watch. The idea that women wear pink watches and men don’t doesn’t exist anymore. It is more about understanding the culture. So really, what’s important to Tag Heuer is to create these universal watches that are comfortable for everyone to wear, he concludes. A fine example is the 39mm Carrera that was launched in 2023. Never intended as a men’s watch, it’s a watch comfortable for everyone to wear.

Alexandra Daddario in the new global campaign Tag Heuer Chasing Dreams
Among the novelties presented at Watches & Wonders, the TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph

Share this article

Related articles

Sign up to our free newsletter for your guide to fashion trends, cultural talking points, celebrity profiles and other exclusive insider tips