Wrist Game Or Crying Shame: TAG Heuer Link Chronograph Do you have the itch for neo-retro kitsch for €1,394? by Michael Stockton June 17, 2020 MIN READWrist Game Or Crying Shame: TAG Heuer Link Chronograph Wrist Game Crying Shame
Welcome back to Wrist Game or Crying Shame, the weekly series that often brings back memories from your halcyon days. Let’s see if the TAG Heuer Link Chronograph moistens your eyes for the right or wrong reasons. But first…
Last week, I showed you the Glashütte Original Senator Navigator. Even though that watch used a design heavily inspired by WW2 bomber watches, you felt it was “Original” enough to land a 58% Wrist Game win. For the proponents, I agree with you — great watch! This week’s subject won’t take its inspiration from anything nearly that old, but the TAG Heuer Link Chronograph has certainly inspired me to travel back in time. Let’s go for a ride.
TAG Heuer owned the 1990’s
TAG Heuer is a fascinating brand. They were the brand when I was growing up during the ’80s and ’90s (and early 2000’s for that matter) that so many people wanted. TAG had this weird multi-faceted appeal. They struck it rich with those who either couldn’t afford a Rolex or didn’t want to drop that kind of coin on a watch. But unlike today where that kind of customers would phone it in with some anonymous “connected” watch, people wanted something stylish, Swiss, and with a respected name. TAG was there as the answer and one of its mega-popular solutions was the TAG Heuer Link.
The TAG Heuer Link debuted in 1999
As the informative site Calibre 11 tells us, the first generation TAG Heuer Link came around in 1999 and was made until 2004. I’m no TAG expert and I thought the line was older than this. It turns out that the Link was borne out of the S/El (Sports Elegance) line that debuted back in 1987. That makes a lot of sense because the Link took the S/EL’s trademark “double S” links and made them a little less ’80s. The Link line had automatic and quartz models, and chronograph versions with both types of power. Smaller, ladies’ sizes were also on offer.
Impossible to miss
If you’ve spent any time on this site, then you’re well aware that I was born and raised in South Florida. Let me tell you something. The TAG Heuer Link and its predecessor were unbelievably plentiful in SoFla. How common? About as typical as a gold package-equipped Lexus at an Olive Garden parking lot in Boca Raton. And just for the Europeans — we’re talking Michael Jackson/Cher/Bryan Adams levels. And years later, you could tell just how popular they were because eBay was and is still flooded with them.
Why I’m featuring the Link
Some — many — will ask why I’m featuring a watch that reminds us all of a questionable period style-wise. Honestly, I’m a bit sentimental and maybe it’s all this time at home recently that has me thinking of former times. But the reality is that I look upon the TAG Heuer Link and I admire it for one major reason. The watch has a unique style that clearly worked at the time. I write This Week in Watches right now and I cannot tell you how many anonymous designs cross my screen. And worst of all, most of that forgettable stuff comes from big brands. So yes, I celebrate the Link for being a trendsetter. And hey, it kind of has an integrated bracelet and that’s undeniably hot right now.
Also, I chose the TAG Heuer Link instead of the earlier S/El for a reason. The S/El, in my view is way too ornate. It also reminds me of shopping mall kiosk managers selling pagers. Don’t ask me why, but those early S/El’s with gold-plated cases and leather straps still give me the heebie-jeebies. And I like how the link uses its own style of hands instead of the former Rolex-aping Mercedes indicators. Finally, the ’80s TAG was synonymous with flaking, rotting dials. The brand got its act together in the ’90s.
A lovely example
I found a lovely example of a TAG Heuer Link automatic chronograph on Chrono24. The watch and the pictures are courtesy of SWWatches in Plymouth, UK. Overall, this looks like a lovely piece that somehow avoided years of ale-induced skullduggery and mischief. All the boxes and papers are here, which is amazing. Remember, most TAG buyers weren’t overprotective watch dorks. The 42mm all stainless chronograph runs on the ETA 7750 and that makes it just as much of a pain in the ass to service as any other 7750. I’m also a huge fan of the striking black dial because it does lend a hint of elegance to the otherwise showy design. And at €1,394, it’s not the cheapest Link automatic chronograph for sale, but it’s the best one I can find. And from the perspective of brands (including TAG) charging multiples more for watches with this movement today, this isn’t so bad.
Folks, I can somehow read your minds. You think this watch is a loser. You’ll poo-poo my sentimentalism and call me crazy. But am I really? Everything comes back at some point and the question is whether you’ll be an early (re) adopter with this TAG Heuer Link or if you’ll follow the herd and take pot shots at this chronograph. And with that, now it’s time to choose.
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About the author
Michael was born in South Florida in the USA. As a full-time role, he works in the Automotive Industry. He's lived and worked in many locations and when he's not cruising at 30,000 feet, he calls Germany home. Michael became… read more
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