It’s a big year for TAG Heuer – the storied Swiss watchmaker has turned 160 – so it’s no surprise that it has put the Carrera centre stage. While its portfolio includes a number of spot-it-across-the-room pieces, the Monaco in particular, the Carrera stands apart. In a sense, its heritage tells the story of the company’s modern era.
Think TAG Heuer and you immediately think motor sport. The origins of that association are to be found in the early 1960s, when the dial name was simply Heuer. The company had been forged in the world of timers and stopwatches, devices which had since been migrating onto wrists. So when Jack Heuer, the founder’s great grandson, took the reins in 1962, he decided to create a chronograph specifically for racing drivers. Drawing on the Bauhaus-like sensibilities he had acquired as an engineer, he determined its design should be clean, efficient and as readable as possible – just like a car’s dashboard. Its name? No coincidence that he had developed an interest in Mexico’s perilous Carrera Panamericana road race. In 1963, the Carrera was born.
Today, the Carrera remains core to TAG Heuer, as evidenced by the starring role it’s playing in this anniversary year. First, two limited editions left its Swiss workshops: in January, a remastered version of the 1963 original (sold as the “TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver”); in June, an homage to the colourful Heuer Montreal (the “TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal”). Then, this summer, TAG Heuer raised the curtain on how it would reinterpret the Carrera for the evergreen collection: the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph in blue, £4,695
We wore it for a week, and the most striking thing about it is how it moves forward the design of the modern Carrera – unlike those first two releases, this is not a “retro” timepiece – yet it does so through the prism of the past. Sure, you can detect the original in the Sport’s more literal features: piston pushers, baton hands, exposed crown and three-register dial. But the design also captures something of the simple, elegant spirit of the 1963 model. It’s untroubled by needless distractions.
This sense of yesteryear collides with the here and now for a dynamic, sporty look. Check the shortened lugs and – obviously – the bevelled ceramic bezel. Jack Heuer’s priority was legibility, and the bezel reads out its tachymetre scale loud and clear. Indeed, the whole thing has plenty of wrist presence. The vintage-looking Carrera 160 Years Silver came in at 39mm; this piece is a more contemporary 44mm – and, what’s more, is produced in four colourways. The most radical is the bang-on-trend, two-tone rose gold and black on a leather strap; then there are black, green and blue variants – the latter being the one that we tried. Blue dials on watches are, of course, another prevailing trend, and the Carrera wears it handsomely.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph’s four variants
Powering it all is the most modern feature of the entire watch: the automatic Calibre Heuer 02, its presence advertised at the six o’clock position on the dial and visible through the exhibition caseback (via the skeletonised rotor). This new manufacture movement has a punchy 80-hour power reserve and employs a column wheel with vertical clutch set-up for jump-free, precise timing.
All of which makes us reflect on the fact that 2020 is merely two thirds through. In this, the year of the Carrera, what does TAG Heuer have up its sleeve next?
TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph, £4,695. Tagheuer.com
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