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TAG Heuer Calibre 18: a timeless racing chronograph

TAG Heuer’s 39-mm Carrera Calibre 18 goes one step further within the Vintage movement of the last few years. Honestly, you'd think this watch came from new old stock.

Switzerland
By Joel Grandjean
Editor in Chief

Everyone who has seen this Carrera on my wrist thought it was an extremely well maintained old model. That is, every one but the CEO of a watchmaking brand who pays particular attention to everything that goes on in the market and who thus obtains insider info unwittingly. There was another one person who removed the piece from my wrist and, after having tapped the Glassbox glass layer with his nails, returned it to me and looked almost disappointed that it was not plastic. It was the realization that it was a new model for which, in the past, scratch-resistant sapphire glass did not yet exist and plastic was the best option to prevent a watch from breaking.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Chronograph Telemeter 39mm

Back to the future

The Carrera Calibre 18 was introduced at Baselworld 2015.

Some watches have been claiming for the last few years to have vintage inspiration, that is, ideas borrowed from historical or iconic pieces. This watch, however, was created straight from past aesthetic codes. We could call it post-vintage. It's a bit as if we covered a CD in vinyl and made it the size of a 33-rpm vinyl.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Chronograph Telemeter 39mm

I agree that in the past few years, watches have returned to normal sizes, as they had been too large from the 2000s. And thus, all watches from before this decade seemed ridiculously small. Furthermore, following several phenomena including horology auctions - where there is a large supply of reasonable-sized watches - and the flourishing Asian markets that always prefer watches better suited for small wrists, watchmaking brands slowly reverted to the sizes that prevailed before the third millennium, that being a mixed standard for both men and women.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Chronograph Telemeter 39mm

Carrera: an ideal range

There’s no better range than the Carrera to welcome this survivor of current vintage impulses. In 1963, when Jack Heuer started the design of a new chronograph dedicated to the automobile universe, he set himself some clear objectives. Those included a perfectly readable dial and a solid, reliable, waterproof and shock-resistant watch. For the record, in the 1950s, the name Carrera represented a legendary race called "Carrera Pan American" where participants had to travel 3,300 kilometers through Mexico in five days. Considered as the most prestigious and most dangerous competition, it deserved its place in posterity through such a horological creation. Today, the Calibre 18, with its silver black color, bears a very close resemblance to its creator’s watch, a prized model amongst collectors. It features two timers, one at 9 o'clock and one at 3 o'clock. This is a very different chronograph since its flange features a telemeter, an old measuring mode developed by the military that enabled firing at the right moment by the speed of a noise. It also helped to gauge the distance at which lightning struck during a thunderstorm.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Chronograph Telemeter 39mm

From the black perforated leather to the shape of the pushers' buttons, the watch has everything. Even the logo affixed on the dial is like the original. The sapphire back allows visibility over the "Côtes de Genève" finishes of the oscillating mass. The rim of the micromechanical interlacing of this caliber 18 is possibly its only contemporary element. Racy and post-vintage, the piece asserts its timeless elegance while perfectly blending in with modern trends.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Chronograph Telemeter 39mm

What's a telemeter?

A telemeter is a chronograph or counter whose dial features a telemetric scale. By using the speed of sound and the gradations on the scale, one can calculate the distance between the point of observation of an event and the place where it actually manifests itself.

Lightning illustrates the usefulness of this tool, which can measure the time between the perception of the lightning bolt and the moment the thunder is heard. This gives the distance between the spot where the phenomenon was observed and the place where the lightning actually struck.

Special thanks to our friends from Perego Cars to give us the opportunity for the shooting at the garage.

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