The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren inspired the design of the TAG Heuer SLR. Push-pieces on top of the case, an internal bezel, and a chronograph function that's accurate to within 1/100th of a second make the SLR the perfect watch for motorsport fans.
TAG Heuer used to have a partnership with Mercedes-Benz's motorsports division. Perhaps the most obvious result of this relationship is the TAG Heuer SLR. These watches have a design unlike that of any other timepiece from this Swiss brand. Every aspect of their appearance was clearly inspired by the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren sports car, from the dial to the case.
This race car had the strongest influence on the first edition of this chronograph, which debuted in 2004. For example, the sides of the cushion-shaped case resemble the car's grille, while the crown and dial both feature the Mercedes star. TAG Heuer would shift to a round case and a sporty tachymeter bezel for later versions. These models have an internal bezel with a 60-minute scale that's operated using the additional crown at 9 o'clock.
One thing every SLR shares is the position of their chronograph push-pieces. Instead of sitting on the side of the case, they sit atop the stainless steel case to the right of the sapphire glass. The final result calls to mind the paddle shifters found in a race car.
Depending on the model, a modified automatic caliber from Zenith or ETA or the quartz caliber S powers these timepieces. The caliber S is extremely accurate and able to measure times to within a hundredth of a second.
|SLR Calibre 36||10,000 USD||Zenith El Primero|
|SLR Mercedes-Benz Ltd. Edition, 3rd Gen.||3,700 USD||ETA 2894-2|
|SLR Calibre S||3,100 USD||Calibre S (quartz)|
|SLR Mercedes-Benz Ltd. Edition, 2nd Gen.||2,600 USD||ETA 2894-2
The TAG Heuer SLR Calibre 36 is special in every way. With a total production run of only 3,500 watches, it was available exclusively to owners of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, which itself cost 400,000 USD. Its cushion-shaped case was designed to mimic the car's grille, and the prominent position of the push-pieces on top of the case makes it a true sight to behold. This is only enhanced by the almost-rectangular black dial with silvery-white interlocking subdials. TAG Heuer's designers took cues from the SLR's dashboard when creating this timepiece's unusual subdial layout.
Five different subdials occupy the dial. This may seem like a bit much at first; however, this watch is meant to serve as a regulator and uses separate subdials for the chronograph counters as well as for the standard hours, minutes, and seconds. This means the SLR shows the time using a central minute hand, a small seconds at 9, and an hour counter at 12 o'clock. The subdials at 3 and 6 o'clock serve as the hour and minute chronograph counters, respectively. A date display at 7:30 completes the dial's displays.
Powered by the Zenith El Primero, the SLR Calibre 36 is a coveted collector's item and exceptionally rare. Expect to pay around 10,000 USD for one of these timepieces.
The second generation of SLRs premiered in 2006. Its design is much more conservative than that of the first generation with its round, 43-mm stainless steel case, tachymeter bezel, and central time display. Even so, this chronograph boasts a few interesting details. Perhaps the most obvious element – besides the two push-pieces atop the case – is the presence of a second crown at 9 o'clock. This crown operates the internal bezel, whose 60-minute scale can be used for countdowns or as a timer.
TAG Heuer equipped these watches with the Calibre 17, based on the ETA 2894-2. This movement comes with a small seconds dial at 3, an hour counter at 6, a date display at 7, and a minute counter at 9 o'clock.
You can purchase a well-maintained second edition SLR on an alligator leather strap, rubber strap, or stainless steel bracelet for about 2,600 USD.
TAG Heuer released the third generation of the SLR in 2007. Its case design was nearly identical to that of its predecessor. The only difference was its size, which was now a stately 45 mm. The Calibre 17 remains its source of power. One new feature is the dial layout: Three subdials have been reduced to two – one for the stop seconds at 3 and another for the minute counter at 9. A large day-date display occupies the 6 o'clock position.
This model is available with a black dial and black titanium carbide bezel or a white dial and stainless steel bezel. Prices for this chronograph range from 2,200 USD pre-owned to 3,800 USD in mint condition.
TAG Heuer introduced the SLR Calibre S in 2008. At 47 mm, it's the largest watch in this series. However, it still maintains the same push-pieces, internal bezel, and additional crown at 9 o'clock as seen in the second-generation model. What is different is the precise quartz Calibre S. This in-house movement is composed of 230 components and able to measure times to within a hundredth of a second.
The dial was also completely redesigned. Two semicircular displays at 4:30 and 7:30 serve as counters for the tenths and hundredths of a second in chronograph mode. In time-display mode, these two displays act as a retrograde date display. For example, if the 1/10th hand is pointing to 1 and the 1/100th hand to 4, then it's the 14th of the month.
As with the other SLR models, the SLR Calibre S comes with a black or white dial and on a stainless steel bracelet, rubber strap, or leather strap. Plan to spend between 2,700 and 3,100 USD for a never-worn timepiece. Prices for pre-owned watches begin around 1,700 USD in good condition.