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Tag Heuer and Kith Bring Back Iconic ’80s Watch Ahead of Miami Grand Prix

The 10 colorways of the limited-edition Formula 1 watch run will drop on Friday at Kith’s Miami store, ahead of the city’s Formula 1 race.

Tag Heuer and Kith Bring Back Iconic ’80s Watch Ahead of Miami Grand Prix

The iconic Formula 1 watch from the ’80s is back and it’s a “Kith Heuer” limited edition in 10 colorways.

Ever wonder what watch the cool kids find cool?

For Kith founder Ronnie Fieg, it’s the 35-millimeter Tag Heuer Formula 1 he received that marked a seminal moment of his mid-1990s teenage years and his later collecting. 

“That was the watch that I really loved and meant the most to me, what I consider to be the first real watch that I owned,” Fieg told WWD.

It is about to return Friday as a co-branded collaboration between the American lifestyle brand and the Swiss watchmaker, dropping in Miami, just in time for the American leg of the Formula 1 championship.

The Tag Heuer Formula 1 Kith returns with many features of the first series launched in 1986, including an hour hand with a steering-wheel-like shape and a triangle with a dot on the bezel at 12 o’clock.

Tag Heuer and Kith Bring Back Iconic ’80s Watch Ahead of Miami Grand Prix

This is the first time Tag Heuer sees its branding modified for a collaboration.

“I wanted to bring that watch back one-to-one because I felt that even back in 2020 it was trending,” Fieg explained. “I personally wanted to wear watches that had smaller faces. The market wasn’t ready for it then but I knew that the market would shift.”

In a first for Tag Heuer, the 2024 version has therefore been reissued using the original molds. Bezels are still made from Arnite, a hard-wearing plastic launched in the 1980s, but other materials have been upgraded, with a sapphire crystal and rubber for bracelets instead of the original plastics.

In another first, the Swiss watchmaker’s shield on the dial reads “Kith Heuer” instead of its moniker, marking the first time the company has allowed a partner to play with its branding. There’s also Kith’s motto of “Just Us.”

“It’s for us a way to reintroduce Formula 1 in a very dynamic way that will surprise everyone including collectors or people who had the watch back in the days, as well as new people that are discovering it,” said Tag Heuer’s chief executive officer Julien Tornare. “This [collaboration] is probably the best way to come back with this iconic watch and a very important part is telling its story.”

The Tag Heuer Formula 1 Kith comes in a total of 10 colors. Seven of them, ranging from solid black to a multicolor version nodding to a rare iteration made in the 1980s with Japanese F1 driver Ukyo Katayama, will be exclusive to Kith. Five come on colored rubber straps in a 250-piece run per hue, and two are 350-piece series on steel bracelets.

The all-blue and all-green colorways, in runs of 825 pieces, will be exclusive to Tag Heuer, while a 1,350-unit version sporting a black bezel and red accents will be shared with Kith.

All versions are priced at 1,500 Swiss francs and there is also a 75-piece collector’s set with all 10 watches with an 18,000 Swiss francs tag.

After the pre-launch in Miami on Friday, where the limited-edition collaboration will be sold at the Kith and Tag Heuer stores, the watches will be available online on the American brand’s website from Monday as well as at selected Tag Heuer stores worldwide.

Tag Heuer and Kith Bring Back Iconic ’80s Watch Ahead of Miami Grand Prix

The four-color Tag Heuer Formula 1 Kith nods to a rare iteration made in the 1980s with Japanese F1 driver Ukyo Katayama, who took cues from the colors of his then-driving team Larrousse.

For the watchmaker’s heritage director Nicholas Biebuyck, the Formula 1 was not only the first product to launch after the Heuer acquisition by the Tag Group but its colorful design broke onto a landscape dominated by grayscale metallic tones and serious timekeepers.

“You have to frame the impact of color in Swiss watchmaking and [consider] how it fit into a larger jigsaw of fashion and culture of this period, which included Jean Paul Gaultier, ‘Miami Vice,’ Michael Jackson, the birth of hip-hop, Basquiat,” he said. “It was a creative design that emerged after a stagnant macroeconomic environment of the ‘70s.”

The colorful quartz-powered Formula 1 was successful from the onset, particularly among a younger demographic who were beginning to view watches as a fashionable accessory. The first generations were produced to the tune of 3 million units.

It also came at a moment when the brand also started signing ambassadors, particularly ace drivers such as Michael Schumacher in 1993 and Ayrton Senna in 1994, under their own names rather than as part of a team deal. “It was the first moment of watchmaking becoming culturally relevant,” continued Biebuyck.

Tag Heuer and Kith Bring Back Iconic ’80s Watch Ahead of Miami Grand Prix

The collaboration’s red and black colorway echoes the watch Kith founder Ronnie Fieg owned as a teen.

“Back then, these were intended to compete against the increasingly popular Swatch watches,” said Balazs Ferenczi, head of brand engagement at Chrono24. Prices on the platform for these early versions have increased around 17 percent in the past five years, albeit sitting at a modest 340 euros, with value heavily dependent on condition.

“The Formula 1 is nostalgic, it’s playful, it’s the collector’s Moonswatch,” said Christian Zeron, a collector and founder of secondhand retailer Theo & Harris ahead of the launch.

Though the Kith collaboration with Tag Heuer will put a limited number of watches in circulation, he expects it to build momentum for the brand. “[It’s] done wonders in restoring [its] prestige, from the exciting advancements in the Monaco collection to the Glass Box and Solargraph, it’s actually cool once again to wear a Tag Heuer,” he added.

And colorful vintage Tag Heuer Formula 1 are often the gateway toward watch collecting, particularly thanks to its accessible price and the brand’s solid watchmaking reputation.

“For many people new to any form of collecting, it can be quite overwhelming wading through what you’re ‘supposed’ to have and figuring out what you actually like. It very quickly loses the fun element when you take it too seriously, and the F1 offers a reprieve from that trap,” said Jonathan Schley, an automotive editor and collector who owns two versions himself. “I’ve referred to it as ‘the Pokemon of watches’ because the hunt in collecting all the colors and varieties is like nothing else in the watch world.”

The Formula 1 family continues to be a gateway into the brand for younger consumers. According to data from Chrono24, the average sale price is 1,127 euros and overall range is 50 percent more successful in terms of market share with Gen Z buyers compared to other age groups.

At retail, the average for current Tag Heuer Formula 1 models sits around 2,000 euros.