TAG Heuer Carrera reissues are still hot, with a generous choice of reimagined chronographs available. And TAG Heuer is getting it right. With the release of the 39mm panda-dial limited edition for the LVMH Watch Week in January, I felt a tickling sensation of desire, but it still felt a bit big. Don’t get me wrong; the sharp-lugged 39mm case we have seen in the Silver 160th, Monte Carlo, and green and cherry colors is a great design. But the dressy smallness of their ’60s forefathers is even more tempting.

The thing is, many buyers like me are put off by the vintage complexities of the movements and scarcity of parts. After spending close to €1,000 on servicing a Chopard chronograph last year, I got spooked, but there is a sweet, secret alternative out there. The CS3110 and CS3140 references are the late-’90s reissues that came out way before the now big trend of small-cased chic. This means that they fall into the deep-space void of nouveau vintage, caught between the real thing and a new watch. I’ll freely admit to spoiling my chances by telling you this secret, but consider me magnanimous.

TAG Heuer Carrera Reissues CS3111

Image: Reddit

The TAG Heuer Carrera CS3100 series

The classic Heuer Carreras from 1964 (refs. 2447D and 2447N) are icons, and TAG Heuer has made great 39mm versions of the OG, especially the new panda in January. But as a lover of small-cased watches, I’d love to get closer to what a racing driver in the mid-’60s would feel on his wrist. We’ve written about these ’90s reissues before, like in Jorg’s story here, and having one is a recurring desire for me. The 36mm case is perfectly in tune with its 60-year-old granddad, and it has the legendary Lemania 1873 movement. Yes, it is hand-wound, making it both a slim and period-perfect watch. On the right strap, it is simply the ultimate chameleon, straddling casual and dressy fits depending on your mood and the occasion. All the proportions are right, as they should be for a studied recreation, including applied indices and lumed sword hands.

TAG Heuer Carrera Reissues CS3110

Image: Chrono24

Goldilocks chic with an iconic movement

Sure, even the 1873 caliber will have you paying a decent price for a service. Still, it’s a safer and less frail bet than the original at a far lower cost. There is a big price difference, with the coveted black-dial CS3111 starting at around €3,200 on Chrono24 in cool, dark monochrome. Going for the crisp, silvery-white CS3110 will have you saving even more; six or seven are available on Chrono24 now for around €2,150–3,100. The bright dial makes it wear larger, while the touch of blue in the decimal scale is a nice touch. I do love the 39mm 160th-anniversary version from a couple of years ago, which starts at around €5K pre-owned. It’s sharp, with one of the best silver dials TAG Heuer has made, but the sleek feel of the original 36mm size has a lot to offer.

TAG Heuer Carrera Reissues CS3140

Image: Chrono24

The golden alternative

The late-’90s lume plots might not be ultra-bright anymore, but everything else borders on perfection for vintage lovers. If you stretch your budget, you’ll find the best solid 18K gold classic-sized chronographs available on the pre-owned market. With the same silver-white dial as the CS3110, the CS3140 has a rich charm that takes it from vintage cool to a grail-like status. Imagine this on a soft cocoa-colored leather strap, and you’ll see what I mean. Still boasting great value, these start at around €5,000 on Chrono24, and both this and the two others pop up often on auction sites like Catawiki. On the CS3140, you’ll find the same period-perfect hands, applied indices, and blue decimal scale, but with a precious twist. The purity of the 160th Anniversary might be sublime and the automatic movement supreme, but 18K gold for less money? The 36mm choice should be an easy one, brother.

Are these simply the best-priced vintage-inspired Carrera chronos available? What do you think, Fratelli? Let us know in the comments below.

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