TAG Heuer Goes Carrera-Crazy at Watches & Wonders 2023
By all reports, watch industry legend Jack Heuer was always a keen racing aficionado; even his first business trip for the Heuer maison was to Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix races. However, his trip to the 1962 Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico would plant the word “Carrera” in his head and change the course of the brand’s history.
“Carrera” had an immediate resonance with racing, of course, plus it also sounded elegant and evocative in nearly every language. So, after Jack took control of the company later that year, creation of the Carrera timepiece became his primary focus.
Three inspiring factors make up the long-lived yet constant appeal of the Carrera: Modern design, modern car racing, and modern technology. Moreover, as a fan of mid-century design masters like Le Corbusier, Jack Heuer always considered the outside of the watch as important as the inside.
That dedication to design is abundantly apparent in the dial and case variations and innovations over the decades as well as in the latest Carrera models released by TAG Heuer at Watches & Wonders in Geneva. Let’s take a look!
The Well of History
Of course, in creating the new Carrera models, the designers at TAG Heuer have a lot to draw from but also a lot to live up to.
For example, the debut Carrera, the reference 2447, moved the 1/5th seconds scale to the flange, outside the hour markers, giving it a clean look instead of the typical chronographs, which were busy-looking tools made for racers. Moreover, this change to the usual chronograph dial design meant the 2447 could be worn by any one at any time because the 2447 appealed to non-racers.
Then the reference 1158, which Heuer famously gifted to leading F1 drivers in a solid gold version, was certainly a bragging point for owners, but also the sartorial splendor of a full-gold Carrera came to define the gentleman racer’s timepiece of that era.
Finally, let’s not ignore the very high bar set by collaborative Carreras created by TAG Heuer and its relatively new automotive partner Porsche.
However, these are only a few iconic examples. So, strap in and click your five-point belt because there are no fewer than three new Carrera families with nine separate executions to feast your eyes on this year, including a new tourbillon!
The Colors of Speed
For the new core collection of the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph, let’s start at the finish line, ok? The details of this timepiece, like the brilliant yellow to orange to red gradient skirting the bottom edge of the flange, belong in the winners’ circle because the color combos are a visual cue not only to racing, but to motion itself.
Set atop either a menacing black or rich blue sunray dial, those splashes of color serve as a high-octane calling card on this new and purest ode to the Carrera. And to complete the race with a flourish, both sport a highly polished 42mm steel case, exquisite pushers, screw-down crown, elongated lugs, and either color-matched black or blue calfskin leather strap with a folding clasp.
Finally, both versions sport the modern Calibre Heuer 02 automatic movement, which is visible through an exhibition caseback, and both carry a 100-meter water-resistance rating and will retail for $5,500.
Through a Glass Quickly
If the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph is a modern purist’s nod to Jack Heuer’s reference 2447, then these new Carrera Chronograph “Glassbox” editions, through a heritage crystal approach beloved by collectors, represent an encapsulation of the platform’s technicality.
A domed sapphire crystal on these new models mimics the vintage hesalite dial-toppers from Heuer Carreras from the 1970s. Only now, that light-catching, magnifying effect typical of hesalite crystals is thrown all the way to the dial edge and over the tachymeter scale right to the case itself. There is no denying it looks great, but it is also fully in line with Jack Heuer’s intentions for the Carrera: He was a fan of style, but Jack was also always chasing legibility.
Like the new Carrera Chronographs, the “Glassbox” editions, with their 39mm, vintage-inspired polished steel cases, are offered in a black version (with stunning silvered details and sub-dials and a black perforated strap) and a blue iteration (with a smooth blue strap, a date window, and subtle, tone-on-tone blue sub-dials). Powered by a Calibre TH20-00 automatic movement, these two TAG Heuer Chronograph “Glassbox” editions will retail for $6,450.
You don’t often see a tourbillon on a “working” chronograph. It’s true that you’ll occasionally see these complications thrown together on a fussy, more “show-off-y” horological creation as an object lesson. But on the new Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon, the gravity-fighting component of the TH20-09 movement created by TAG Heuer’s Movement Director Carole Forestieri looks right at home and, dare we say, rugged at 6 o’clock, especially under the “glassbox” crystal.
In fact, its additional ornamentation – like a red seconds hand, red tach gauge hash marks, and silver circular frames for the 3 and 9 o’clock sub-dials, all atop a stunning circular crushed blue dial – adds extra dashes of sportiness to the haute horology.
The Joy of Cooking (with Gas)
Putting the redline seriousness of high-watchmaking technicality and heritage homage aside, the new line of Carrera Date 36mm timepieces probably best expresses the enduring appeal and gorgeous flexibility of the estimable Carrera canvas.
Of course, these new three-handers recall racing, to be sure, but more than anything else, they also recall the fun of racing. And priced at $3,200, expect four stunning dial color versions of this 36mm steel timepiece: Shimmering silver, deep blue, creamy pastel green, and (what I can only describe as) hot pink.
With a slimming of case height by 2mm and a new Calibre 7 automatic movement upgrade that delivers a 56-hour power reserve (an 18-hour improvement from earlier Carrera 36mm models), this latest generation of smaller Carreras is defined by performance, both technically and visually, as well as unisex appeal.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)