TAG Heuer's Red Bull watch is a surprising stunner

Available in steel and nato straps the Formula 1 model looks very clean and classic.

Neil Churchill October 18, 2016

When the news broke at the end of last year that TAG Heuer and McLaren had parted ways after 30 years together, we were shocked and a little sad. TAG and McLaren had for a long time been a dream team, not just in Formula One but in business; a case study of a mutually beneficial luxury brand partnership.

It was equally surprising because EDGAR had just returned from a visit to TAG’s headquarters in Swiss watch mecca La Chaux-de-Fonds, where we had got to grips with TAG’s new-at-the-time Formula 1 McLaren edition.

With the convenience of hindsight of course, the split and resulting partnership between TAG and Red Bull Racing now makes complete sense. Over the last year, under the leadership of Jean-Claude Biver, TAG has repositioned itself towards a younger and more dynamic audience and there is no other team on the F1 grid better suited to that alignment than Red Bull.

Once we had accepted the new partnership we immediately began looking forward to one thing in particular that would inevitably materialise from the duo: a Red Bull watch, and just in time for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next month, it has arrived. 

The steel chronograph is a special edition to the watchmaker’s entry-level Formula 1 line and while it’s adorned in the drinks company’s racing colours – midnight blue and red – it surprisingly doesn’t have any obvious nods to Red Bull on its dial or bezel like the McLaren edition did, leaving it with a clean and vintage look. 

Staying true to its Formula 1 line, the watch houses the Ronda 5040D quartz movement, measures 43mm and its matte blue aluminium fixed bezel sports a tachymeter scale. But elsewhere the Red Bull watch differs as much as it can from its sibling models. The matte blue dial – matching the matte blue paint Red Bull has used on its cars this year – the flat white sub-dials and red-tipped hands all set this model apart. The only Red Bull marking is found on the caseback, where the Red Bull Racing logo is engraved.

It even uses a steel hour-marker at the 12 o’clock position rather than the normal over-sized ‘12’ found on most Formula 1 models. In fact, whisper it quietly, but with its 3-6-9 chronograph layout and its contrasting step on the outer minute track, there's a not-so-faint whiff of the Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman' exotic dial about it. 

Despite being the same case, movement and dial, The Red Bull watch is actually being touted as two separate models because of its straps. There is the standard steel bracelet that you would expect to see on a TAG sports watch, but also a ‘technical textile’ blue strap with red stitching, inspired by the seat belts of racing cars. 

Approaching 12 months in to TAG Heuer and Red Bull’s partnership and the relationship is most certainly still in its honeymoon phase. Red Bull have bounced back from their 2014/15 slump on the track with possibly their strongest driver pairing ever, and TAG has produced a classy and classic watch to go alongside their triumphs. 

Will the relationship last 30 years like McLaren's did? If TAG keeps making watches for its new partner that look as good as this one, it’s got every chance.

Steel bracelet AED 6,045 | nato strap AED 5,460