Celebrate The 60th Anniversary Of The TAG Heuer Carrera
This year marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most beloved, automotive inspired sports watches in modern history: the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph. Designed by Jack Heuer – the great-grandson of Heuer founder Edouard Heuer and an industry giant in his own right – in 1963, the Carrera Chronograph has long been prized by collectors for its legibility and functionality. Not to mention its rich history in motorsport and its dashing good looks. Over the years that single model (the Heuer Carrera Reference 2447) has evolved into one of the brand’s most successful collections, replete with a number of variations to suit all tastes and occasions.
Not surprisingly, it was also the focal point for TAG Heuer’s new releases at Watches and Wonders 2023. This includes two special chronograph models with ‘glassbox’ style domed sapphire crystals (more on those in a minute), as well as two new additions to the Carrera Chronograph 42mm range. And in another welcome surprise, TAG Heuer also debuted its new Carrera Date 36mm with vibrant dials. Available now from Watches and Switzerland, you’ll find everything you need to know about these new releases below.
The Birth Of The Carrera Chronograph
Chances are, you’ve never heard of the Carrera Panamericana. A gruelling open-road race, spanning 3,507 km, it took place each year between 1950 and 1954. Surprisingly, the organiser of this high-speed affair was not some flamboyant racing entrepreneur. Rather, it was the Mexican government. With the completion of the Mexican section of the Pan-American Highway they were looking to create some buzz. Which they succeeded in doing. So well, in fact, that the race became very popular in a very short period of time. Sadly, it also proved to be very dangerous. Over the five years it ran for, 27 people lost their lives. As such, mounting safety concerns and costs saw its eventual cancellation in 1955.
Its legacy would live on in the mind of at least one man though. Although to be fair, it would be a further seven years before Jack Heuer even heard of the race. Already working on a concept for a new chronograph watch, the story goes that in March of 1962, whilst serving as the Official Timekeeper at the 12 Hours of Sebring Race, a respected driver by the name of Pedro Rodriguez regaled a young(ish) Heuer with tales of the Carrera Panamericana. As it turns out, the famous Juan Manuel Fangio – long-time friend of the Heuer brand – had won the race in 1953. That was enough for Jack. The race’s history and the word “carrera” left a lasting impression on him. He would later write; “Just the sound of the name itself – elegant, dynamic, easily pronounced in all languages and charged with emotion. I knew then that my new chronograph was the perfect tribute to this legend.”
Having the right name was only one step in the process though. Jack Heuer was determined to create a wrist worn chronograph that would make the racing world sit up and pay attention. And live up to the lofty expectations of its moniker, of course. Meticulous in his design, he insisted on a clean and uncluttered dial with baton hour markers and simple registers. Legibility and ease of use were the top priorities of the day.
Impressively, the first Carrera chronographs were presented a year later at the Basel fair in 1963. Presented in a round 36mm case with long, sharply faceted and polished lugs, it cut a striking figure on the wrist. Its refined dial featured a tension ring painted in 1/5-second increments with a classic three-register layout for the chronograph indications. The knurled winding crown and significant chronograph push buttons ensured ease of use even with thick racing gloves on. Inside the chronograph movement was provided by Valjoux and signed “Ed Heuer”. An instant sensation, the Carrera Chronograph remains one of the most recognizable and iconic pieces in the brand’s history. Which brings us conveniently to the first of the new models unveiled in 2023.
Carrera Chronograph Glassbox
Presented in 39mm round cases crafted from polished stainless, these new iterations of the Carrera Chronograph come in two distinct dial variations, one black and the other blue. The former has a decidedly vintage aesthetic, with its reverse panda dial (black with contrasting white sub-dials) directly inspired by Carrera Chronographs from the 1960s. If you look closely, you can see that all the sub-dials are recessed and decorated with concentric circles, giving a lovely sense of depth and contrast. The date is shown through an aperture via 12 o’clock, and the time is indicated by rhodium-plated polished, faceted hour and minute hands complete with beige Super-LumiNova (for that faux aged look). Around the periphery of the dial is a black flange with 60 sec./min. scale. This model is worn on a perforated black calfskin leather racing strap, complete with polished steel folding clasp with double safety push-buttons.
The blue dial version meanwhile has more of a modern feel to it. Everything on the circular brushed dial is blue, including the chronograph counters at 3 and 9 o’clock, as well as running seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. This time the date appears via an aperture at 6 o’clock, and the rhodium-plated polished, faceted hour and minute hands and baton markers all feature white Super-LumiNova. This model is worn on a blue calfskin leather strap, complete with polished steel folding clasp with double safety push-buttons.
A common feature to both models is the distinctive domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment – hence the ‘Glassbox’ moniker. This is a homage to the hesalite crystals used on the Heuer Carreras in the 1960s and 1970s. The crystal curves over the dial edge and into the case, and it’s on this outer dial edge that the tachymeter scale is printed. It’s a very cool touch and one that works really well with these dial layouts. On the reverse of each model you will find a sapphire glass case back showing off the calibre TH20-00 inside. One of TAG Heuer’s new-generation automatic calibres, it is equipped with an upgraded bi-directional winding system, which allows for faster winding. When fully wound, the TH20-00 delivers a healthy 80 hours of power reserve. And in keeping with their functional sports watch heritage, both models are water resistant to 100m.
Carrera Chronograph 42
Also joining the line-up are two Carrera Chronographs in the more familiar 42mm case size, again with the option of a sunray brushed blue or black dial. At first glance, both variations seem to offer a more modern aesthetic, but TAG Heuer has employed gradient orange highlights to great effect on the dials to evoke the speedometers of classic racing cars. Offering just the right amount of contrast, this bold design choice really elevates these models to the level where collectors start rubbing their hands together in glee. And yet, they are both still eminently wearable on a daily basis, sure to complement a well chosen shirt and tie combo or a more relaxed look with a polo or t-shirt and jeans. And it’s that kind of versatility that makes the Carrera Chronograph such a perennial favourite with amateur and seasoned enthusiasts alike.
The dial lay-out is identical on both models, with the classic 3-6-9 configuration used for the chronograph counters and the running seconds. The central chronograph seconds hand cuts a striking figure in a reddish-orange, which matches the hue of the hands on the chronograph counters. A date aperture appears at 6 o’clock within the running seconds sub-dial. As a nice extra touch, the date wheel is black on the black dial version and white on the blue version. Inside the case – and visible through a sapphire case back – is the automatic chronograph Heuer 02 movement. This in-house movement features a column wheel and a vertical clutch for a smooth chronograph experience and delivers an 80-hour power reserve when fully wound. These new references are offered on either a black or blue calfskin strap (matching the dial colour) with a steel folding clasp and double safety push-buttons.
Carrera Date 36mm
We are very pleased to share that this year TAG Heuer has introduced four new Carrera Date references in 36mm stainless steel cases with matching H-shaped bracelets fitted with folding clasps. Three of the new models feature sunray-brushed finish dials with a more subdued palette in signature blue, pastel green, and warm silver. While the fourth offers a vibrant pink dial with a snailed finish, sure to make a scene wherever you go (in the best possible way). Don’t let their more elegant appearance deceive you though, these models are still very much imbued with the racing spirit of the Carrera collection. Case in point the raised track with quarter-of-a-second markings around the dial’s periphery. The colour is the same as the main dial so it doesn’t draw too much attention to itself but still lends the models that extra bit of sporty flair.
The steel cases – standing just 10mm tall – show fine steel brushed and polished finishes, with the dials framed by polished bezels and bevelled, domed sapphire crystals. For the dial architecture, TAG Heuer has chosen gold or rhodium-plated applied indexes and gold or rhodium-plated faceted hour and minute hands with white Super-LumiNova, ensuring an attractive aesthetic that doesn’t compromise on legibility. Behind the dial beats the Calibre 7 automatic, which delivers a 56-hour power reserve.
Available On Our Website
You will find all new models from TAG Heuer on our website already complete with further information. We invite you to enquire today about any specific model that has taken your fancy and our knowledgeable and professional staff will be more than pleased to assist you.