STORIES Two Time Lords, Reunited: Jack Heuer & Jean Campiche

5 min

An illuminating conversation with Jack Heuer and Jean Campiche. The two icons tell us how they changed the way the world saw time.

Jean Campiche & Jack Heuer

One legend used the Swiss avant-garde to change the way the world viewed watchmaking. The other used TAG Heuer’s innovative technology to change the way motorsport kept time. Together, they worked with racing giants like Ferrari and racing drivers like Jo Siffert, Niki Lauda and “Clay” Regazzoni. Jack Heuer, TAG Heuer’s honorary chairman and Jean Campiche, timekeeping legend go back a long way. They share many thoughts, memories and anecdotes. That’s why we reunited the icons, after many decades, for an intimate chat with the two icons. They talk about TAG Heuer’s indelible relationship with motorsport. They tell us about the inception and evolution of TAG Heuer watches. Jack Heuer also explains the thinking behind the watchmaker’s maverick marketing ideas. It’s a riveting, nostalgic and illuminating conversation. So sit back and enjoy what the two time lords have to say.

On Heuer’s relationship with Ferrari

Jean Campiche: Heuer had specific developments for Ferrari, to measure the performances of their cars on the racetrack. The lap times, partial times and their speed. We developed specific devices and accessories, like the famous Centigraph Le Mans, or bidirectional photocells that detect the speed of a car on different parts of the track, for example, at the turn of a corner. That is what Heuer did in its partnership with Ferrari.

The various timing devices we developed for Ferrari enabled Scuderia engineers and drivers to compare the performance of the cars with each other. Heuer also equipped Fiorano, Ferrari’s private track. It was the first circuit in the world to have a complete system of time and speed measurements. This enabled a detailed analysis of the data recorded during testing. At the same time, some of these Heuer devices were manufactured and marketed to other teams, circuits, or sports federations.

Jean Campiche & Jack Heuer, October 2022

On changing the world of timekeeping

Jack Heuer: I had started to build timing equipment. We had experience working with the users of stopwatches. And they became hungrier for better equipment, so we started measuring a tenth, a hundredth, a thousandth in our finished products. That side of the business developed very nicely. And we then got involved with building special versions for Formula 1 and so on.

Jack Heuer’s early days

Jack Heuer: Abercrombie [& Fitch] was the chicest thing in the US at the time, so we got quite friendly with them. I worked for them behind the counter during Christmas, so I was selling my own watches behind the counters at Abercrombie & Fitch.

  • Jack Heuer wearing the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph (CBN2044.FC8313)

On Heuer’s pioneering PR team

Jack Heuer: We built our very own little PR company, in our own factory [This was a very unique approach in the 1970s]. We used every trick to get some coverage. Every watch we brought out had to have a PR launch et cetera.

On witnessing great races

Jean Campiche: I had the pleasure of witnessing, in 1973, endurance races with Ferrari. The 6 hours of Vallelunga, the 1,000 kilometers of Nürburgring, 24 hours of Le Mans. 24 hours of Le Mans, which was a very painful experience…because it lasts 24 hours! Then, Formula 1 which lasts for a shorter time, but which allows our emotions to run much higher than the endurance races.