In 1971, Enzo Ferrari was looking for a leading timekeeping company to equip his private track of Fiorano (Maranello/Italy).
He chose Heuer and, for the next decade or so, the Swiss watch company was to serve as Official Timekeeper for the Scuderia Ferrari.
It was responsible for installing 45 photocells around the test track, so that Ferrari engineers could monitor the performances of each car on the track.
This involved not only the speed but the braking and accelerations, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the overall dynamics and behaviour of the car thanks to a pioneering system heralding breakthroughs in modern telemetry.
This revolution significantly contributed to Scuderia world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1979 with Nikki Lauda and Jody Scheckter.
This period saw a number of significant developments initiated by the technological collaboration with Formula 1’s Scuderia Ferrari, such as the introduction of the famous Le Mans Centigraphe 205 in 1972 and the Microsplit 820 in 1973,the first pocket quartz stopwatch to be accurate to 1/100th of a second.
Other developments focused on the photocells and speed calculators, such as the famous “Heuer speed-calculator”.
These years were very important, as electronic components provided the possibility of reaching an unprecedented level.
With the help of TAG Heuer’s know-how in timekeeping, it was natural to offer some very innovative devices such as the Speedmeter able to measure the speeds of F1 cars with absolute precision.
In 1973, for the first time ever, the German TV reserved a camera, installed in front of the LED display of the Speedmeter, to provide live transmission of the speeds of the F1 cars during the Nürburgring German Grand Prix on TV screens around the world.
In the mid 1970s, Heuer developed an entirely automatic system which could record the times of all cars, even when several crossed the finish line at the same time.
The idea was to equip each car with mini-transmitters (transponders) which were detected by a receiver (antenna) placed on the finish line.
Each car transmitted on a different frequency, thus enabling easy identification and time calculation.
In 1976, Heuer presented this unique Automatic car identification timing (ACIT) system to the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) in Belgium (at the Grand Prix held in Nivelles).
The way was thus paved for future applications and the development of these mini transmitters, which have become the famous transponders now used.
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