In 1985, TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde), a French company that manufactured high-tech equipment such as ceramic turbochargers for Formula One vehicles, and Ron Dennis, a British businessman, acquired Heuer, the Swiss watch brand – forming TAG Heuer.
Heuer and motorsport have a long, rich history together, complete with historic appearances in films. As well, the brand’s watches have appeared on the wrists of history’s most well-known drivers. Arguably the most famous driver in history, Mario Andretti, owned several Heuer watches. He was awarded two Autavia Reference 3646 chronographs, for being fastest in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, in 1966 and 1967. Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of Heuer founder Edouard Heuer, presented a distinguished 18 karat gold Carrera chronograph to Andretti, to honor him.
It seems natural, with their racing background, that TAG teamed up, recently, with the other famous Mario, as well – Mario Kart. Mario Kart is a series of racing games developed and published by Japanese gaming giant, Nintendo. First introduced in 1992, the obvious question being “who hasn’t played Mario Kart?” The game is a phenom with 164 million copies of the series sold worldwide, to date.
The luxury Swiss watchmaker collaborated to create a pair of Mario Kart watches – the Formula 1 Chronograph and Formula 1 Chronograph Tourbillon, both versions filled with references to the game.
The 44mm chronograph version, limited to 3000 pieces, retailed for $4,300 USD and features the Mario Kart logo on the black ceramic tachymeter bezel. The 2 o’clock pusher and crown features the Mario ‘M’ symbol etched on the crown. There is a Mario Kart logo engraved in the case back along with the outline of Mario in his kart. The dial features a racing checkered pattern and Mario is found in his race car inside the 9 o’clock position sub dial. The date window at the 3 o’clock position, meanwhile, regularly features Mario Kart items, such as the banana and the super star.
The 45mm chronograph Tourbillon, limited to 250 pieces, has an upgrade complicated movement, of course, along with its high-performance grade titanium case. The tourbillon window, at the 6 o’clock position, features the blue shell, Bullet Bill and Mario are seen chasing each other continuously. All fun and games including the price -this watch retails at $26,500 USD.
Not your average watches, albeit expensive, but are they worth it? Mario’s fans think so as both watches have sold out – according to TAG Heuer’s official website.
TAG Heuer has a proud history in motorsports that includes Formula 1 racing, ties to Steve McQueen in the 1971 film Le Mans and more recently, renewing their multiyear partnerships with INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway – add to that, Mario Kart, too.
Whether you’re fortunate enough to own one of these treasures, or not, remember Rule #1 – use the boost start trick to get off the grid quickly!