The History of and Story Behind the Tag Heuer Logo

Tag Heuer

If you’re a fan of luxury Swiss watches (and who with an ounce of taste and a very full wallet isn’t?), then you’re no doubt aware of the name Tag Heuer. Founded in 1860 under the name Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG, the brand has gone through several changes and acquisitions over the years, but at heart, still remains the same peddler of expertly crafted, ever so slightly expensive, luxury items it always was. But what about the logo? Behind every great brand is a great logo, after all. So, what’s the story behind the Tag Heuer logo? Stay where you are, as you’re about to find out.

The Story of the Brand

Before we get to caught up in the story of the logo, let’s backtrack a second. To understand the story of a logo, you have to first understand the story of the brand. So, what’s the story with Tag Heuer? And where did it all begin? To answer the 2nd question first… St-Imier, Switzerland, the hometown of a certain Mr. Edouard Heuer, who, in 1860, decided to capitalize on his love for pocket watches by starting his own watchmaking company. Born under the name Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG, it didn’t take Heuer and his fledgling company too long to begin making waves in the industry.

As Wiki notes, 1882 was the year Heuer patented his very first chronograph; 5 years later, he patented the ‘oscillating pinion’, a highly advanced creation that’s still widely used in the industry today. Over the following century, the company went from strength to strength: in 1914, it jumped ahead of the pack by releasing one of the very first wrist watches onto the market; in 1933, it developed the Autavia, a dashboard timer that became the gold standard in cars and planes of the day; in the 1950s, it made a huge breakthrough in the US market when it partnered up with Abercrombie and Fitch; the 1960’s saw the brand became the preferred choice among race car drivers of both the professional and amateur kind, while the 1970s saw Heuer venture into the world of LED and LCD displays.

By the 1980’s, the brand was, not to put too fine a point on it, huge… little wonder, then, that it started to attract attention from some major potential investors. In 1985, TAG Group acquired a minor stake in the brand. As a result of the partnership, Heuer adopted the new title of TAG Heuer (not to mention a jazzy new logo, but we’ll come to that shortly). 14 years later, the company had grown to the point that it had managed to pique the interest of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A. That same year, LVMH bought up a majority share of 50.1% in the company for the considerable sum of CHF 1.15 billion (around the equivalent of $739 million). Since the acquisition, TAG Heuer has widened its catalogue to include everything from sunglasses to fashion accessories. But regardless of what you buy, one thing remains the same: the logo stamped on the label.

The Original Logo

When Edouard Heuer first conceived the Heuer logo back in 1860, he was clearly too concerned about the watches he was creating to worry too much about what kind of statement the logo was making. The end result was something a kind person would describe as simple, and an unkind person would describe as boring. Regardless of which way you lean, no one could say it was elaborate. A simple five point shield executed in a monochrome color scheme and with the word “Heuer” skewed to fit inside, it did the basics of what a logo is meant to do, but no more. But for over a century, it served Heuer well. Under its stamp, the watchmaker became an internationally recognized brand – something no end of its competitors aspired to, but very few managed.

But then in 1985, things changed. The brand was acquired (or at least, a portion of it was), and with that, the logo came under new scrutiny. As notes, what had worked well enough for over 100 years suddenly wasn’t up to scratch. A new logo was needed, one that not only reflected the new name of the company (which went from Heuer to Tag Heuer overnight), but which fitted into the hyped-up aesthetic of the day (we’re taking about the 1980s, after all). It wasn’t a complete case of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, though. The original five-sided shield shape stayed in place, albeit with the word ‘TAG’ placed above the original ‘Heuer’ lettering to form a single, unified shape.

With the addition of the TAG logo, the emblem became a whole lot more colorful: TAG stuck to its signature green for its part (and also choose to stick with the arrowed font it had employed on previous logos), while Heuer went for a clashing orange. Below the emblem, the words “TAG Heuer Swiss Avant-Garde Since 1860” was added in a simple font. The end result was a much more colorful, striking statement than the logo of old, and one that TAG Heuer clearly believed better fitting for their new image and identity.

Changing Times, Changing Logos

For the next 15 years, the Tag Heuer logo remained unchanged. But nothing lasts for ever. In 2015, the brand decided it was time for a re-think. As notes, the main change to come into effect was the rearrangement of the words ‘TAG Heuer Swiss Avant-Garde Since 1860’. Having previously appeared below the emblem, they were now moved to the right of it, a change that remains in place to this day. In another alteration, the arrowed font used for the TAG part of the logo was abandoned in favor of a much clearer and more legible sans serif type. The color combo of orange and green, on the other hand, remained the same, providing quite the colorful statement, especially when compared to the rather more conservative emblems of other Swiss heritage companies. Since 2015, the Tag Heuer logo has remained unchanged… although whether we might see any more alterations in the future, who can say?

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