Hands-On: The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Telemeter
TAG Heuer showcased its superb heritage with the equally smart Calibre 18 Telemeter – a throwback to the classic Carrera models that offers the wearer an entirely different type of connection.
In 2015, TAG Heuer delivered an astonishingly large range of watches. But what was perhaps more impressive than the volume, was the diversity of styles, eras and ambitions within that range. At one end of the spectrum they released the Connected watch, jumping into the smartwatch game boots and all.
Rich automotive roots
The Calibre 18 Telemeter provides a link to TAG Heuer’s rich automotive roots, without being a straight re-issue of a particular historic Carrera reference. But all the key details are there – the pump pushers, vintage Heuer logo with the ‘panda’ style subdials, even the highly domed glassbox sapphire crystal is reminiscent of the early domed acrylics. Think of the Telemeter as a ‘greatest hits’ Carrera. TAG Heuer have done a very creditable job of distilling what people love about the storied chronograph into a new model.
The Telemeter does make concessions to modernity – at 39mm it’s larger than the vintage pieces, which typically measured in at 36mm. Having said that, TH have exercised restraint when it comes to case size, 39mm is just about as small as it could be while housing the Calibre 18 movement. They must have ben tempted to push the size above the 40mm mark, which would have skewed the Telemeter’s delicate retro balance. A date window has also been added – a simple bevelled aperture that thankfully doesn’t detract from the beauty of the dial. The choice of a telemeter scale is also a surprising one, as a motorsports-oriented tachymeter would have been the natural choice for the Carrera. The telemeter scale is often associated with military timepieces, as the scale was commonly used in calculating artillery range. Another quirk of the watch is that the dial mixes the British spelling of ‘Calibre’ with the American spelling of ‘Telemeter’. It’s a small thing, but consistency would have been cleaner.
A joy to wear
While the specifications give you an idea of what to expect, they simply don’t prepare you for how darned handsome this watch is on the wrist. The opaline silver dial is surprisingly warm, and full of light that plays well with the faceted indices, cambered dial edge and polished case. This all makes the watch a joy to wear, and it looks great on the vintage-inspired perforated strap. The size is just right - there’s no risk of it getting lost on your wrist as can happen with vintage pieces, nor does it dominate and look out of proportion.
TAG Heuer have succeeded in cleverly creating a stylish and smart homage to the golden age of Carreras – it’s one of the best heritage inspired pieces we’ve seen in a long time, and proof that for all their focus on the future TAG Heuer still acknowledge the importance of their past. The pricing, at USD 6400 is smart too, as is the fact that this is a regular production piece and not a limited edition.