The TAG Heuer Senna Special Edition 2015
I was 20 when Ayrton Senna died, but I was lucky enough to witness his steady climb to the top of the Formula 1 racing charts that eventually crowned him the best driver of all time. Senna, as I wrote in a previous post already, has always been closely linked to two brands: Honda and TAG Heuer. With Honda, the F1 racer had an intense personal and professional relationship (Senna was deeply involved in the development of the Honda NSX, a joint venture between the Japanese car-maker and the McLaren team), while for TAG Heuer, which was one of McLaren's technical partners, Senna become a brand ambassador.
The tagline for the brand's advertising campaign, which appeared on every magazine of the time, was, “Don't crack under pressure.” Very soon this phrase became a powerful claim and many watches were created under this statement, the most famous of which was an analog-digital timepiece that Ayrton Senna was very fond of and used on a daily basis: the 1991 TAG Heuer S/EL. Today, Senna's personal watch is owned by Jo Ramirez, a former McLaren's technician and a very close friend of the deceased driver.
TAG Heuer has ideally recreated that former partnership by associating Senna's face to two of its collections: the Formula 1 and, partially, the Carrera. Over the last years, there have been numerous limited edition watches created and named after the F1 champion (it is actually very difficult to list them all as they were mostly created for a very restricted group of aficionados.) Today, some of those collectors, own precious timepieces that have seen their collecting value grow exponentially. This year, TAG Heuer launched two new models and four new versions: one is the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition, while the second one is the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Senna Special Edition.
In my opinion, both timepieces are highly sophisticated customizations of two TAG collections. The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition is a 43mm diameter Formula 1 quartz chrono that comes in two versions: the first one features red accents, while the second is painted in green and yellow and reminds us of the Brazilian flag or, if you prefer, of Senna's racing helmet. On both models, the “S” red logo is printed on the dial and the wording “Senna” is engraved on the bezel, along with the tachy scale.
More interestingly, as well as more classy, is the TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 16 Senna Special Edition: the right answer to those who have been waiting for years for a new release of the Link timepieces originally created for the F1 racer. This watch is essentially a Carrera item that has been embellished with a Link bracelet, exactly like the Formula 1, but while the Formula 1 has a traditional folding clasp, the Carrera has the very same integrated deployment buckle of a Link bracelet. This new bracelet is called “Legend” on the Senna Special Edition timepieces.
Among the four new watches, the Carrera Caliber 16 is undoubtely the most appealing one: it is a beautiful 44mm three counter chrono embellished by the “Legend” bracelet and made sporty by the thin “Senna” writing on the bezel, the “S” logo and the small red accents on the dial. This timepiece can be perfectly placed in between a classic and a sporty chrono because its dial is anthracite grey with a soleil motif: a typical dial that is used for both styles in watch making. The combination betwen style and balance, what English speakers call “the cool factor”, is simply outstanding and, in my opinion, this is by far the best Senna Limited Edition TAG Heuer chrono ever made.
If you are looking for an exclusively sporty version of this timepiece, you should go for the Titanium version (covered in Titanium carbide.) The “Senna” writing is white and, in both versions, the brand's logo is placed at 12 hours on the bezel. The bracelet has been replaced by a rubber strap sporting a “Vintage Dunlop” motif and a folding buckle. A small note about the logo: on the new advertising campaign of the brand (pictured above) you might have noticed that the TAG Heuer logo has been redesigned, the “TAG” part has lost its classic arrow shape and it has been simplified.
The timepieces pictured here are samples and they all feature the current logo but, most likely, once they will be for sale in shops, they will sport the new logo on their dial. To summarize: it is nice to see that TAG has revamped the Ayrton Senna limited edition watches because this niche market linking timepieces and cars counts many aficionados and it hasn't been affected by the economic crisis so far. Among those four watches the steel Carrera is definitely the best one and it could have been even better had it adopted the 1887 movement, even if this had meant paying a higher price for it. The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition retails at 1600€, a price a bit too high for an entry-level quartz watch, while the TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 16 Senna Special Edition retails at 3750€, a very good price if we consider that it is part of an iconic and legendary collection and that it is built with top quality elements typical of every Carrera item (case and bracelet making, mirror polishing and couplings.)
(Photo credit: courtesy of TAG Heuer; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter