The TAG Heuer company has its roots in 1860 when Edouard Heuer founded a watchmaking company in St-Imier, Switzerland, patenting his first chronograph in 1882. In 1887 Heuer patented an 'oscillating pinion' still used by major watchmakers for mechanical chronographs.
Early twentieth century
In 1911, Heuer received a patent for the "Time of Trip", the first dashboard chronograph. Designed for use in automobiles and aircraft, two large hands mounted from the center pinion indicate the time of day, as on a traditional clock. A small pair of hands, mounted at the top of the dial (12 o'clock position) indicates the duration of the trip (up to 12 hours). A top-mounted crown allows the user to set the time; a button mounted in that crown operates the start / stop / reset functions of the "duration of trip" counter.
Heuer introduced its first wrist chronograph in 1914. The crown was at the twelve o'clock position, as these first wrist chronographs were adapted from pocket chronographs. In 1916, Heuer introduced the "Micrograph", the first stopwatch accurate to 1/100th of a second. This model was soon followed by the "Semikrograph", a stopwatch that offered 1/50th of a second timing, as well as a split-second function (which allows the user to determine the interval between two contestants or events).
Timepieces of the 1930s and 1940s
In 1933, Heuer introduced the "Autavia", a dashboard timer used for automobiles and aviation (whence its name, from "AUTos" and "AVIAtion"). The companion "Hervue" was a clock that could run for eight days without being wound. Over the period from 1935 through the early 1940s, Heuer manufactured chronographs for pilots in the German air force, known as "Flieger" (pilots) chronographs. The earlier version featured a hinged-back case and one pusher (for start / stop / reset); the later version had a snap-back case and added a second pusher (for time-in and time-out). All these Flieger chronographs had two-registers, with a capacity of 30 minutes.".
In the mid-1940s, Heuer expanded its line of chronographs to include both two and three register models, as well as a three-register chronograph that included a full calendar function (day / date / month). As the highest development of Heuer's chronographs, these "triple calendar" chronographs were offered in stainless steel, 14 carat gold and 18 carat gold cases. Dial colors were white, black or copper.
In the early 1950s, Heuer produced watches for the American retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. The "Seafarer" and "Auto-Graph" were unique chronographs produced by Heuer to be sold by Abercrombie & Fitch. The "Seafarers" had special dials—with blue, green and yellow patterns—that showed the high and low tides. This dial could also be used to track the phases of the moon. Heuer produced a version of the "Seafarer" for sale under the Heuer name, with this model called the "Mareographe". The "Auto-Graph" was produced in 1953 and 1954, and featured a tachymeter scale on the dial and a hand that could be preset to a specific point on the scale. This allowed a rally driver or navigator to determine whether the car was achieving the desired pace, over a measured mile. Advertisements and literature also pointed out that this hand could be rotated to count golf scores or other events.