SAVOIR FAIRE Jack Heuer: the man behind the Carrera

5 min

On Jack Heuer’s birthday, we look back on the story of the man who inspired the TAG Heuer Carrera.

Jack Heuer at the TAG Heuer Museum in 2017

For almost a year now, we’ve been commemorating the 60th anniversary of the TAG Heuer Carrera. But the celebrations aren’t complete without paying tribute to Jack Heuer, the man who brought the collection to life. The man whose work will stand the test of time. (Oh, did we also mention it’s his birthday?) The former CEO and current Honorary Chairman of TAG Heuer, is a watchmaking legend. A century after the company was founded by his great-grandfather, Heuer’s cutting-edge innovations elevated the brand to global recognition. It’s his constant search for something new that has kept TAG Heuer at the forefront of the industry. And so we’re going to retrace his journey over the decades, from his early years to his enduring legacy. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Jack Heuer took over the company at 20 years old.

The early years

Jack Heuer was born on 19 November 1932 in Bern, Switzerland. At the time, TAG Heuer was a thriving small family business which was founded in St. Imier in 1860. In his early years, during a study break in New York, Jack worked for Abercrombie & Fitch, selling watches, including Heuer, in their stores while also getting to enjoy the American lifestyle. Jack initially didn’t want to join the family business but his father convinced him by saying it would only be for one year, so he could learn the ropes. (Of course, it would end up being a bit longer than that!) One of Jack’s earliest roles was to set up a subsidiary in North America called the Heuer Time Corporation. The North American market was booming, and Jack’s experience equipped him to take over the company from his father and uncle in 1962. He became the fourth generation of the Heuer family to lead the business.

The golden era

At the young age of 29, Jack brought fresh, modern ideas that inspired a golden period of timepieces. The Autavia in 1962, the Carrera in 1963, the Camaro in 1968, the Automatic Chronograph and the Monaco in 1969. One of Jack’s landmark moments arrived in early 1963, when he unveiled the Heuer Carrera.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Le Corbusier and Eames, Jack had crafted a chronograph with an uncluttered, functional dial. As he later declared, ‘The Carrera exudes modernity and elegance thanks to its clean, ultra-legible design. This timeless style, as well as its bold and daring spirit, have been the keys to its longevity’. The collection went on to become a favorite amongst collectors and enthusiasts.

  • Jack Heuer and the microsplit

Master marketer

Jack had many talents, but one of his biggest strengths was his marketing acumen. His passion for motorsport led to sponsorship deals with Formula 1 manufacturers, who placed the Heuer logo on their cars, and drivers, who wore suits with Heuer logos on them. These partnerships and product placements boosted brand visibility, setting the stage for future luxury brand sponsorships in motorsport. Jack also saw the value of getting his watches on the wrists of Hollywood film stars. Fun fact: if actors wanted to keep one of his watches, all they had to do was ‘send a signed photo of themselves dedicated to Jack Heuer and then they could keep the watch.’  It was midway through this golden period that Heuer acquired Leonidas, becoming the world leader in supplying timing equipment. 

Jack Heuer wearing a special edition TAG Heuer Carrera (CBN2041.FC8306) in 2020

An enduring legacy

Jack Heuer’s influence is undeniable. From our latest watchmaking innovations to the Carrera on your wrist, he played a vital role in making TAG Heuer the Swiss avant-garde watch brand it is today. In the forward to Jack Heuer’s autobiography, The Times of My Life, former TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Christophe Babin credited Heuer as being the inspiration behind the brand’s ‘technical and aesthetic masterpieces, thanks to his forward-thinking and pioneering spirit’. We couldn’t have said it better. Happy birthday, Jack, and here’s to your enduring legacy.

You can read all about the collection and Jack in our new book, TAG Heuer Carrera: The Race Never Stops, available in TAG Heuer boutiques and selected bookstores around the world.