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The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition is celebrating an anniversary. Thirty years ago, Aryton Senna became the youngest Formula 1 driver to win a third world title. TAG Heuer remembers the motorsport legend’s legacy with a yellow and black chronograph. Is the special model worth it?
About the Uhrenlounge
As with my last TAG Heuer watch reviews, this time I again collaborated with the online portal uhrenlounge.de. The Uhrenlounge of the Aika Jewelers from Dresden has specialized in the online sale of watches from well-known manufacturers such as Oris, Tissot, Hamilton and Seiko. As the Uhrenlounge is also an authorized dealer of TAG Heuer watches, you will find a generous offer of timepieces of the Swiss brand in the online store. As always, all important links can be found at the end of the review. If you have any questions about watches, the competent customer service of the Uhrenlounge is at your disposal.
The myth of Senna
November 3, 1991 marks one of the many highlights in the career of Aryton Senna. On this day, the exceptional Brazilian driver was the first to cross the finish line in his McLaren and was crowned world champion for the third time. Even then, however, and even today, Senna is more than just a world champion. Senna is considered a national hero, an icon. The name exerts such a fascination on people as perhaps only Michael Schumacher achieves in Formula 1. In addition to his driving talent and rivalry with Alain Prost, this is undoubtedly linked to his tragic death at Imola in 1994, when Senna drove his Williams off the track and crashed into the trackside wall.
The myth remains unbroken to this day. Swiss luxury watch brand TAG Heuer, part of LVMH, has dedicated its own special edition to the Brazilian icon to mark the anniversary described above, which in turn is part of its Formula 1 collection. TAG Heuer itself has been closely associated with the premier class of motorsport for decades and still acts as a sponsor of the Red Bull team. Last summer, I was already able to test the TAG Heuer Aston Martin Red Bull Racing together with uhrenlounge.de.
As with the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition, the Senna-typical yellow hue runs through the entire 2021 collection. The new special edition model is said to have some details in store for Senna fans. After all: a common history connects Aryton Senna and TAG Heuer. Senna had been a brand ambassador since 1988. So the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition can be seen as an homage. Will the sporty chronograph do justice to the Formula 1 legend?
The model with the reference number CAZ101AJ.FC6487 is a sporty chronograph whose functional look is already known from some other timepieces of the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer. So, TAG Heuer does not reinvent itself with this design. What is unique, however, are the references to the person Aryton Senna, or rather to the Aryton Senna brand. Even during his lifetime, the world champion was entrepreneurial and sold products under the brand with the characteristic double Senna-S. The lemon yellow Senna-S is an omnipresent design feature of the watch. You can find it on the bezel or the dial.
What I find interesting is the black leather strap, which is said to be modeled after the strap that Senna himself regularly wore on his TAG Heuer. We’ll take a look at that in detail later, though. Let me give you a reference to the scope of delivery. This is quite generous. TAG Heuer doesn’t skimp and adds a watch roll to the package – practical!
The TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition in the Hands On
If you are looking for dignified luxury, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition is a bad choice. The watch radiates sportiness, dynamics and speed on the wrist. The reduced and functional design also dispenses with various high-gloss polishes, which gives it something technical. Thus, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition has some attributes that also apply to the Formula 1. A contrast is the more traditional bracelet, which gives it that certain vintage feel. I am relatively sure that Aryton Senna would have loved to wear this watch.
By default, the timepiece has a diameter of 43 millimeters, joining the other chronographs from the Swiss in terms of size. It’s always important to me that watches above such a size don’t look too chunky and bulky. TAG Heuer has done a good job here.
A high quality case
At its core, the case is made of solid stainless steel, but you only notice its existence when you take off the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition and look at the back. A nice detail is the Senna helmet engraved into the brushed stainless steel, which will make fan hearts beat faster. No surprise on the other hand are the usual specifications engraved on the edge.
But where does the black color that dominates the case come from? From a classic DLC coating. The diamond-like carbon encases the case core and gives the watch unparalleled hardness and scratch resistance. The coating, which is only a few micrometers thin, makes the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition extremely durable. A side benefit is the sporty, aggressive look, which I think fits well with the Formula 1 theme. TAG Heuer has succeeded in the implementation in the best possible way. All surfaces are finished to a level worthy of the premium segment we are in.
On the fixed bezel, the tachymeter scale is read. It indicates how fast you are moving on a known track. At 2 o’clock, you can actually find a 400 km/h mark, which you have to look at with a twinkle in your eye. 400 kilometers per hour has not been and will not be reached in the foreseeable future in Formula 1. Thanks to the notch, the watch is easy to grip on the bezel.
Even though Formula 1 doesn’t have too much to do with water, TAG Heuer gives its Formula 1 Senna Special Edition a case that is water resistant to a depth of 200 meters. Not bad!
The movement and its functions in detail
Inside the Senna chronograph works a quartz movement, as it was the case with the Aston Martin timepiece. Personally, I sometimes have a hard time with quartz watches in the premium segment. Sure, the quartz version fulfills the important functions just as well as a mechanical alternative. However, I also buy a watch priced at a few thousand euros because I’m fascinated by traditional watchmaking and the precision of a handmade mechanical movement that runs for decades. For most Senna fans, however, that should be secondary, so I can understand TAG Heuer’s choice.
If you still want to sit on the pit wall and measure lap times like team boss Sir Frank Williams did in the ’70s, you won’t have to accept any limitations with the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition’s functions. The chronograph has three totalizers in addition to seconds, minutes and hours. Here, you can measure 1/10th of a second and 30-minute slots. When the central second is used to stop, a small second can also be used at the same time. A date window completes the functions.
Dial and bracelet of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition
There are numerous lemon yellow accents on the anthracite gray dial, which can be found on the date window, totalizers and Senna-S. All elements of the dial are harmoniously arranged and convince with functionality, i.e. good readability. Despite the abundance of theoretically readable data, you can quickly find your way around the dial and keep an overview. This even applies in the dark. The hour hands and indices are coated with SuperLuminova luminous material and shine brightly and evenly. Small details like the circular structure of the totalizers make the design even more interesting.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the black strap, which is made of leather and finished with S-shaped embossing. I like the yellow stitching here as well, which echoes the color scheme of the dial.
Instead of a pin buckle, you’ll find a high-quality folding clasp at the end of the strap, which is equipped with a double security system including push buttons. So the hold could hardly be more secure. The folding clasp is black and is adorned with the TAG Heuer logo.
My conclusion about the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition
One thing is for sure: true Senna fans will love TAG Heuer’s Formula 1 chronograph. The sporty timepiece offers some nice details that remind of the legend without forcing the homage to Aryton Senna on the wearer. In other words, even those who are not ardent admirers of arguably the fastest F1 driver of all time will enjoy the design. Technical, sporty, and functional – what more could you want?
Maybe an automatic movement, one could argue. Who expects a mechanical drive at the price of 3100, – euros and the term ‘luxury chronograph’, must be disappointed here unfortunately. A drop of bitterness in an otherwise very successful watch, in my opinion.
By the way: a part of the proceeds from Senna products goes to the Aryton Senna Institute. It supports measures to improve the education of Brazilian children and young people. Finally, I would like to thank Uhrenlounge for kindly providing me with the watch. Below you will find all the important links.