A couple of months ago, TAG Heuer presented the sporty version of its new Carrera chronograph, a robust and technical timepiece with which the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture brought its legendary hero into the 21st century. But now it is the turn of a more honest and streamlined version, one which is aligned with the aesthetically and functional values of the original Carrera that Jack Heuer created in 1963.
This is a new chronograph with fine, elegant lines that offers a more measured appearance, but maintains technical rigor in its manufacture and operation. The new Carrera is the perfect tribute to Jack and his preferred chronograph.
In 1963, Heuer introduced the Heuer Carrera, the chronograph that in its name captured the romance and danger of the Carrera Panamericana (Jack knew about this race and its cool name in 1962). The watch offered powerful style and proportions (for that time), and some effective graphics on the dials of three sub-registers.
Made for the track, but enjoyable on the street or the beach, the Heuer Carrera became one of the most versatile wristwatches of its era. The design of that timepiece reflected Jack’s passion for action and his knowledge that, whether at the races or elsewhere, readability is crucial. Reliable and elegant, it became the instrument of choice for motor racing legends such as Jo Siffert (1936-1971), the renowned Swiss Formula 1 and Le Mans driver.
The Carrera had to be the most functional and sought-after measuring instrument. Its readability had to be bulletproof. To achieve his goal, Jack Heuer, a design scholar, learned for a long time everything about the aesthetic and functional aspects of the analog instruments of the time. Jack assimilated these “readability factors” and applied them to the dials of his chronographs. Each informative element of the Carrera was designed to be readable at a glance, so the proportions of the main indexes and smaller registers followed a precise formula that maintains uniform relationships between index sizes and the spaces between them. Added to this is the flange which added information without having to fill up the space on the dial. Thus, from the beginning, the shape of the Carrera was subordinated to its functionality and legibility.
It is no secret that Jack Heuer considers the Carrera his most important creation and today, 57 years after its launch, the chronograph is the standard-bearer celebrating 160 years of the company founded by Edouard Heuer.
The 160th anniversary celebrations began in January with the soft launch of the TAG Heuer Silver Edition. This piece, a reinterpretation of a 1964 Carrera (reference 2447S) recreates the purest and most essential lines of the watch conceived by Jack Heuer. Months later, the Carrera family was joined by a colorful example, the Montreal, another name closely associated with the history of TAG Heuer chronographs. And now, after the arrival in July of the 44mm Carrera Sport Chronograph, it is the turn of a more elegant and lighter-looking variant that decidedly offers greater versatile with its 42mm case.
This timepiece obviously maintains its chronograph functionality with two push-buttons and three subdials. This time, the more elegant Carrera keeps things less busy, compared with the sportier Carrera. The running-seconds register, at the 6 o’clock position, is not particularly highlighted, other than with its “crosshair” graphics and the date window at its base.
The two other subdials are really nice-looking and are of the “azurage” type, according to the brand. Not only they are recessed, but also framed by their respective flanges, which stand out ever so slightly from the main dial surface. A concentric groove adds to the 3D-effect and soundly distinguish the two chronograph dials from the running seconds counter.
Moving out, the dial color and surface finishing varies among the four references: opaline black or sunray brushed blue, anthracite and silver. All of them are accented by the brightly-polished applied indexes — which follow the angle of the outer dial flange, a nice detail — and baton-type hands (the white-dial reference adds a very distinctive and luxurious rose-gold plating to the hands, indexes and even the logo).
Just like Jack would have demanded, the proportions of the new Carrera are fair and the design is clean. Somehow, the watch looks a lot smaller than its diameter would suggest, even more so on the dark-dialed watches. And yet, here’s a nitpick: again, just like in the Carrera Sport, we find the ‘HEUER 02 80 HOURS’ script written at the bottom of the dial.
On to the slim and very streamlined case. Throughout its well defined contours, we find the usual mix of polished and brushed surfaces, which add volume to the svelte lines. The faceted and angled lugs are sharp looking and add a bit of contemporary flair to the classic lines and shape of the overall concept.
The polished crown is appropriately on the large side (it kind of reminds me of the huge Autavia crown). Flanking it are the two large chronograph pushers, whose polishing is yet another sign of the care TAG Heuer put into the watch to make it look sleek. At the back, the screw-down sapphire caseback provides a good view of the manufacture HEUER 02 automatic movement, here with a rose-gold-colored oscillating mass.
The Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition unveiled at the beginning of the year, in Dubai, gave us a spot on clue about what would follow further through the year. That beautiful Silver Limited Edition watch (1,860 pieces) already featured this same Heuer 02 caliber. These and all other new Carreras, are driven by the Heuer 02 in-house movement.
This heart is built in TAG Heuer’s facilities in Chevenez, which is solely dedicated to the development and creation of the firm’s movements. The Heuer 02 movement consists of 168 components, including a column wheel and a vertical clutch — key parts for making the start-and-stop of the chronograph more reliable and precise — and features a respectable 80-hour power reserve.
Self-winding Cal. HEUER 02; hours, minutes, small seconds; 12-hour chronograph and date; 80-hour power reserve
42mm stainless steel; screwed steel-and-sapphire caseback, 100 meter water-resistant
Calfskin straps with pin buckle; or steel bracelet with double-folding clasp