Watch Releases: TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02
TAG Heuer rounds off its 160th anniversary with a new lineup of Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02 models. We break down the news and give our thoughts.
160 years as a company is certainly something to honor and TAG Heuer has steadily rolled out the goods in proper celebratory fashion. In January this year, we saw the beautiful Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition. This was a faithful retro model that harkens back to the original 1963 model designed by Jack Heuer.
Then, just a short couple of months ago, the first mainstream release came to light. We broke down the new 44mm Sport Carrera and came away impressed by the colorful, yet cohesively designed chronographs. Today, though, we finally get to see what is likely the most awaited version, the Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02
The introduction of a new Carrera is a big deal for TAG Heuer. Amongst their historic models, it’s the Carrera that jumps out to me as the most legendary. Sure, the Monaco or Autavia are popular and legendary in their own way, but the Carrera is what really kicked things off for Heuer back in the 1960’s and again in the 1990’s when the original models were reissued. For me, the Carrera — certainly in its original form — boasts one of the cleanest, most elegant designs for a sporting chronograph. The angled and chamfered lugs, the incredibly clear dial and general show of restraint make it one of my favorites (hint: the originals are still somehow reasonable — blame a 36mm case). Will the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02 come close in terms of timelessness?
We’ll get to my personal thoughts on the Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02 towards the end, but let’s first break down the release. TAG shows us four new stainless steel variants and all come in at 42 by 14.4mm. There are two options on a new H-link bracelet with either a black or dark blue dial. Two additional choices come on a brown alligator strap and are comprised of either anthracite or silver opaline with rose gold plated indices and hands.
The all steel options are priced at €5,050 and the model with rose gold plating is €5,250. The big news is the use of the in-house Calibre 02 automatic, which can be seen via the display back. This is an 80-hour power reserve movement with date, running seconds, 12-hour and 3-hour sub registers. A domed and bevelled sapphire crystal tops things off and contributes to a useful 100 meters of water resistance.
As mentioned, the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02 brings in some thoughtful updates. From what we can see, the new bracelet looks appreciably thinner than prior renditions. If I’m looking at the clasp, it looks like a comfortable double button with butterfly. Furthermore, we get a new case with what looks like thicker lugs that brings the overall length to 48.2mm. Kudos to TAG on keeping things below 50mm. Obviously, with a new movement comes new dials as well. Here, I think things look more expensive than in the past. No matter the color chosen, there’s nice texture at hand. Sunray, opaline and brushed surfaces are employed along with ridged sub registers, rich looking applied indices and an applied shield logo that really looks good.
Because this is the more elegant watch in the lineup, the Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02 avoids details such as a tachymeter track or other barely-used indicators. We’re left with an angled 0-60 minute/second track that acts as a tensioner between the dial and crystal. When you’re viewing this watch at an angle, I find it incredibly clean and crisp looking. It’s really nice to find so few concerns. But there are a couple…
A few points…
Similar to the Monaco Calibre 02, this new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02 has a there/not there sub register at 6:00 for the running seconds. I honestly don’t like it. Perhaps a proper third register would have made things too busy or it all would have run together. I don’t know the reason for these cross hair design, but to me it looks “weak”. It’s as if TAG knew it needed this indicator, but didn’t want to fully commit. I actually think that the Sport Carrera works better in terms of fluidity and date window incorporation, but maybe that’s because it’s a larger watch with more dial real estate. Oh, and if you’re curious, I don’t love the cross hair look on the Monaco either. My other point is more semantical, but I don’t see the need to add “Heuer 02” and/or “80 Hours” on the bottom. It’s clumsy and takes away from the high quality aspects of the rest of the dial.
The best serial Carrera in ages
But if my last points have led you to believe that I don’t like the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02, I need to interject. I actually think that it’s the best looking serial model Carrera in ages and it should sell very well. And if I am choosing favorites, I actually find both strap models to come off even better than the blue and black. The anthracite looks highly finished to me as does the silver with rose gold plated accents. And even though the new bracelets are thinner, I think that the straps make the watches look lighter and more in keeping with their slightly dressier intentions.
Due to the ongoing and volatile travel situation due to COVID, we’ve not gone hands-on with the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Calibre 02 models yet. We’re looking forward to that as these new models seem to do a nice job of pulling in traits from the 1960’s original while creating a fresh look. In the meantime, visit TAG Heuer for more information.