Tag Heuer 1500 Series Professional 200m

Last Updated on July 21, 2024 by Jason

I have owned this particular vintage watch is a Tag Heuer 1500 Series Professional (model WD1221-k-20, serial no. EK4341) for 25 years. It was my first “real” watch. I knew it was Swiss made, I knew of the Tag Heuer brand and I knew nothing about “real” watches. It is quartz and certainly doesn’t match my opinion on “real” watches now, which is focused on those watches with mechanical movements. I do own another quartz watch, a G-Shock, which is my sports watch. I doubt very much that I will ever own another quartz watch. Although, I possibly could be tempted by a MoonSwatch.

TAG Heuer

Tag Heuer is a well-respected Swiss luxury watchmaker with a rich history dating back to 1860 when it was founded by Edouard Heuer in St-Imier, Switzerland. Heuer began as a small workshop specialising in creating high-quality pocket watches. In the first decades of the 20th century, Heuer became well known for producing pocket watch chronographs and for dashboard clocks for cars and aircraft.

In 1882, Edouard Heuer patented his first chronograph mechanism, marking a significant milestone in the company’s history. This invention laid the foundation for Tag Heuer’s future innovations in precision timekeeping.

In 1911, Heuer revolutionised the world of sports timekeeping by introducing the “Time of Trip,” the first dashboard chronograph designed for use in cars and aircraft. This innovation solidified Heuer’s reputation for accuracy and reliability in timing instruments.

Throughout the 20th century, Heuer continued to innovate and expand its product offerings. In 1933, the company introduced the Autavia, its first dashboard stopwatch for automobiles, which became popular among racing enthusiasts. Heuer’s timepieces were also used in various sports events, including the Olympics, which further enhanced the brand’s standing in the watchmaking industry.

In the 1960s, Heuer became closely associated with motorsports. In particular, Formula One racing, by sponsoring drivers and events. The partnership led to the development of iconic TAG Heuer timepieces such as the Carrera, Monaco, and Autavia, which became synonymous with precision, performance, and style.

In 1985, Heuer was acquired by TAG Group Holdings S.A., a prominent Luxembourg-based investment company. This lead to the formation of TAG Heuer. The acquisition allowed TAG Heuer to combine its expertise in luxury watchmaking, with Heuer’s heritage of innovation and craftsmanship.

First ‘serious’ watch

The watch was chosen literally on appearance. I just liked the look of it and it was a permanent fixture on my wrist until I gained an appreciation of mechanical watches around five years ago. Now the Tag Heuer 1500 is on rotation and spends about two months a year on my wrist as my daily watch. A couple of days a week I’ll put the daily watch away in a drawer and wear a vintage watch from my collection in its place.

Tag Heuer 1500 Series Professional 200m.

In the late 1970s, Tag Heuer introduced the 1000 Series of dive watches. Due to the immense popularity of this initial line, Heuer introduced the more fashion conscious 2000 Series in 1982. Recognizing the growing preference for style over the “tool” aesthetic, Tag Heuer decided to discontinue the 1000 Series in 1990. This paved the way for the introduction of the new 1500 Series, which aimed to combine the practical features of the 1000 Series with the stylish elements of the 2000 Series. The 1500 Series first appeared in the Tag Heuer catalogue in 1991.

The 1500 Series dive watches successfully bridged the gap between the two previous collections. They offered reliable dive functionality at attractive prices, striking a balance that appealed to consumers. Notably, President Barack Obama’s choice to wear a Series 1500 watch during his campaign trail and in the White House further elevated the model’s global recognition.

Design

As the name suggests, the Tag Heuer 1500 Series is a hybrid of the 1000 Series and the 2000 Series.  The 1000 Series was very much a “Tool watch” with a large, thick, 70s-style case that had broad shoulders and a deeply recessed dial. The 1500 Series picked up several design touches inspired by the 2000 Series that positioned it as a more sophisticated watch than the 1000 Series. The design features of the Tag Heuer 1500 Series were:

  • “Mercedes” hands (which were a feature of all TAG watches at the time).
  • A combination of circular and rectangular baton hour-markers (the 1500 Series reversed the pattern used on the 1000, with circles at 9 o’clock and 6 o’clock where the 1000 has batons).
  • Triangle-marker at 12 o’clock on the dial.
  • Triangular marker on the bezel at the “0” position (in fact, the steel bezel version above uses six triangles on the bezel).
  • “Jubilee” style bracelet, although there was the option of a leather strap, which was never available for the 1000 Series collection.
  • Traditional circular case.
  • Despite some of the similarities to the 1000 Series, ultimately the 1500 Series looks more like a modified 2000 Series, especially with a much lighter case design and thinner lugs.
  • The available dial colours were white, granite, luminous, black and blue.
Tag Heuer 1500 Series Professional 200m.
Tag Heuer 1500 Series Professional 200m.

1500 series features

The 1500 Series included six additional classic features, a unidirectional turning bezel, luminous hour markers, screw-in crown and a stainless-steel case, waterproof to 200 meters, with a sapphire mineral crystal.  Bezels were either a traditional smooth finish or with triangular “studs”.

Despite being on sale for almost 10 years, the 1500 Series changed relatively little over the years, so that the watch of 1998 is essentially identical to the original version launched in 1990. Changes to the range over the years were relatively minor, including:

  • The full-size model was discontinued in 1994.
  • Later models have additional polished finishes -the centre links on the bracelet, the triangles on the steel bezel and the outer-edge of the black dive-bezel.
  • Detail changes to the bezel on the steel and gold models, with later versions losing the gold inner ring.
  • A blue-dial and blue-bezel model was added in 1996.

Movement

The Tag Heuer 1500 Series was only available with a quartz movement. Up until 1988, the watches used the ETA 955.112 movement. Beyond 1988 the ETA 955.114 movement was used. Both movements had the same 7 Jewel design. This watch having been purchased in 1997 would most likely have the ETA 955.114 movement. I haven’t been able to determine any difference between the two movements, so any modifications must have been minor. Both movements featured a quartz-controlled stepper motor, quickset date function and a sweep second. The quickest date feature is activated by unscrewing the crown, extending it to the first position and rolling the date forward. The movement has a low battery indicator.  In the last few weeks of the battery’s life, the second hand jumps 5 seconds at a time every 5 seconds to act as a warning.  The watch still keeps time, but it indicates that the battery needs to be replaced.  

ETA 955.114 movement.
ETA 955.114 movement.

11.5”’ Ligne, Diameter= 25.6mm                       A ligne is 2.2558291 mm

Height= 2.5mm

7 jewels

Frequency = 32768 Hz

As per the 1000 Series, the 1500 was only available as a 3-hand watch, no chronograph version of the 1500 Series was ever offered. Buyers did have a choice of bezels, with either a steel bezel featuring minute markers or a black diver-style design. The 1500 Series collection offered three options in terms of case size, Men’s size (40mm), Mid-size (35mm) and one lady’s design (27mm).

Service December 2021

As stated earlier I have owned this vintage watch for 25 years and it spend most of that time on my wrist. The once crisp white dial had a champagne-coloured tinge around the centre and the second hand was no longer exactly aligned with the second markers when it ticked. These were two minor flaws with an otherwise perfectly good watch. It was also very reliable for a vintage watch. If the champagne discolouration had spread completely across the dial, it might have added to the overall appeal.

Tag Heuer 1500 Series Professional 200m.
Tag Heuer 1500 Series Professional 200m.

In late 2021, the second hand started ‘jumping’ which indicated a battery change was required. The battery typically lasts 2 to 3 years. I took it to my local jewellers, as I had many times before and they advised they would be sending it to Tag Heuer for the battery replacement. They called a day later to say that Tag Heuer would only replace the battery, on a vintage watch of its age, as part of a full service. I agreed to the service and was told it would take about two months.

The watch was returned in early January 2022, it came in a protective Tag Heuer branded case. A service guarantee was included in the case. The dial had actually been replaced with a new white dial. The old dial was included in the case. The watch case had been polished, to look like new, not that it had any serious scratches to begin with. The service had resolved the issue with the second hands and they now align perfectly with the marker. The whole watch looks just as it did on the day that I bought it. Some collectors would argue that the “new” look would detract from the value of the watch as it takes away the originality. I see their point, but I’m also quite pleased with my “new” Tag Heuer 1500. Originality will be the subject of another post.

Summary

I have an emotional attachment to this vintage watch. I have worn it for the best part of 25 years. I bought it before I knew anything about watches, particularly vintage watches. It looks great, keeps great time and comes from a manufacturer that has a significant history in the watchmaking industry. I’ll be wearing this vintage watch again sometime soon… even though it is quartz.

Related content

The official Tag Heuer website.

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