TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 44 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic Watch
The word icon is thrown around way too often for comfort, in my opinion. But, like it or not, every brand has them within its history. The definition of the word — a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol — lessens its grandiosity and clearly makes it the perfect descriptive term for the TAG Heuer Carrera, a model which has, alongside other iconic pieces from the brand (such as the Monaco) defined the company’s character for decades. Now it’s time for the latest chapter of this icon’s history to be written with the release of the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 44 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic Watch.
Updating icons is a tricky task. You cannot deviate too much from the script. This is not the place for ad-libbing. Changes must be considered. Additions must be worthwhile. Contradictions should, at all costs, be avoided. Perhaps the safest way to make changes to a classic is to simply make it “better” in ways that could barely be imagined to rankle even the hardest core of fan. Functional upgrades, more refined finishing, more resilient materials, for example. These are things that it is hard to moan about, provided they do not sacrifice the charm and aesthetic approachability of the original (a good example of that is when brands “upgrade” Plexiglass to sapphire).
160 years and going strong
Heuer is celebrating its 160th anniversary. What an unfortunate year for such a milestone! At least it isn’t a rounder number like 150 or 175… We have some time to plan for that party, at least. To mark the commencement of the brand’s 17th decade, the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 44 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic has hit the shelves in four striking colorways.
…the verdant variant is my favorite.
For traditionalists, there are black or blue configurations. For those that like a little bit of luxury in their timepieces, an edgy black and rose gold number makes its bow. And for anyone chasing the unobtainable Hulk, there is a new kid on the block looking to command your greenbacks. Of the four, I must say the verdant variant is my favorite. This is somewhat surprising to me as that shade of green is not something I’ve ever looked for in a watch, but there is something about the way it hangs together with the overall design that I like. I think it benefits from a bit of restraint. The silver bezel was a smart touch.
A long story
Anyone that loves TAG Heuer (and, more importantly, Heuer before TAG) also loves Jack Heuer. Jack’s leadership made the brand what it would become. The models released during his stewardship are the yardsticks against which everything since has been measured.
Nowadays, it is easy to dismiss the Carrera’s impact.
The Carrera’s story began in 1962. At that time Jack Heuer became aware of the storied Carrera Panamericana race. The word Carrera, Spanish for “road”, “race”, “career” and “course”, inspired him to create a new timepiece based on this exhilarating event. One year later, in 1963, the Carrera model rolled out of the Heuer factory and began its journey.
Nowadays, it is easy to dismiss the Carrera’s impact. So many copycat models exist, the design has become a blueprint for racing chronographs around the world. But at the time it was one of very few watches designed for such a purpose. Its codes were far more distinct than they appear today. But then, that is exactly why it has been so frequently copied.
The new dials
I’m a big fan of circular graining on a dial (I like how it draws the eye to the center point of the display) and I think it has been well-deployed here. I particularly like the way the raised indices slope towards the middle of the dial, accentuating the focal point while also providing nice depth in contrast to the domed sapphire crystal.
At 44mm these are not small timepieces.
A 6 o’clock date window is a subtle addition and the sub-dials retain the legibility for which they are known. The hour counter sits at 9 o’clock, the sub-register at 3 shows the chronograph minutes, and the 6 o’clock sub-dial houses the going seconds hand.
Perhaps the biggest change from the original Carreras and the modern interpretations is the case diameter. At 44mm these are not small timepieces. However, the complex dial and the wide, engraved bezel certainly play their parts in reducing its presence on the wrist to a polite level.
Calibre Heuer 02 movement
These TAG Heuer Carrera models are powered by the in-house Calibre Heuer 02 movement. That’s a real boost. Comprising 168 components, including a column wheel and a vertical clutch, the 02 has a “weekend-proof” 80-hour power reserve. These aren’t the first Carreras to feature this movement (it popped up in the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver and Montreal Limited Editions models) but they are the first ones to hit the regular catalog.
…another two special editions before the year is out.
This selection of novelties marks the mid-point of TAG Heuer’s release calendar for 2020. We can expect four more novelties to follow in September and another two special editions to drop before the year is out. It is fitting that the Carrera, a model so central to the brand’s heyday successes of the ’60s and ’70s, should feature so prominently in this year’s plan.
Learn more at the official TAG HEUER site here.