Watch of the Month: TAG Heuer Carrera


A watch that was born in the 1960s and successfully transitioned into a modern luxury chronograph, the iconic Carrera watch continues to be a flagship model for TAG Heuer. For this installment of our Watch of the Month series, we delve into the history of the vintage Heuer Carrera and explorer some modern iterations of the TAG Heuer Carrera.

 

A Brief History of the Carrera Chronograph

 

Before there was TAG Heuer, there was Heuer. Founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer in Switzerland, Heuer the watch brand built a reputation for building precise movements and topnotch quality pocket watches as the family business was handed down from generation to generation.

In 1962, Jack Heuer—the great-grandson of the founder—took over the company. With Jack Heuer at the helm of the company, the Carrera chronograph was developed and launched in 1963. Created with automobile racing in mind, the watch takes its name from a famously dangerous car race, the Carrera Panamericana.

 

Jack Heuer, the man behind the Carrera Jack Heuer, the man behind the Carrera

 

While early models of the Carrera ran on manual-wound mechanical movements, Heuer was an integral part of the development of the automatic chronograph caliber. Heuer joined forces with Breitling, Buren, and Dubois-Depraz, and together this consortium of Swiss watchmakers unveiled their automatic chronograph movement in 1969, dubbed the Chronomatic. Heuer named their automatic chronograph movement the Calibre 11. It powered the first automatic Carrera chronograph (along with Heuer Autavia and Heuer Monaco chronographs too). Because of the new movement, the chronograph pushers remained on the right side of the case but the winding crown moved to the left.

Heuer offered both manual and automatic versions of the Carrera simultaneously. Then quartz versions joined the lineup in the late 1970s. According to OnTheDash, there were about 110 varieties of the Carrera watches made from the 1960s until the 1980s. In 1982, due to the tumultuous “Quartz Crisis” of the Swiss watch industry, Jack Heuer sold his company. In 1985, TAG (Techniques d’Avant-Garde purchased the company and the watch company became TAG Heuer.

 

The TAG Heuer Carrera Comeback

 

The Carrera was not part of the first decade of the TAG Heuer company but in 1996, that changed. TAG Heuer presented a reissue of the inaugural Carrera chronograph watch in three versions and even included the original Heuer logo on the dials. The reissue of the Carrera proved to be so successful that it paved the way for a strong comeback. In 1999, LVMH bought TAG Heuer and the new management seeing the potential of the Carrera quickly added it as a permanent model.

Today, the Carrera is a mainstay of the TAG Heuer catalog. As a result, there are countless versions available of the iconic watch. Let’s discover some modern versions of the TAG Heuer Carrera.

 

Stainless Steel TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16

 

In 2004, TAG Heuer released the modern Carrera Calibre 16 with reference numbers CV20XX. These contemporary chronographs brought the Carrera squarely up-to-date and featured design details suited for modern tastes such as, 41mm cases, fixed external bezels (a first for the Carrera), and a slew of material and color choices.

Furthermore, because of the automatic Calibre 16 movement powering the watch, the dial design features the trio of registers in a 6/9/12 layout, along with a date window at 3 o’clock. It’s important to note that early models of the Carrera Calibre 16 came equipped with sapphire casebacks for a view of the movement while more recent editions now have solid casebacks.

 

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 ref. CV2010 TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 ref. CV2010

 

The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 ref. CV2010 is a steel model that features a black tachymeter bezel, a black dial, and a matching black leather strap. Plus, as an earlier edition of the Carrera Calibre 16, this watch includes a sapphire exhibition caseback. The monochromatic look of this particular Carrera ref. CV2010 is a sleek choice and this modern chronograph is perfectly appropriate as an everyday watch.

 

Two-Tone TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16

 

Sporting the same features as the Carrera Calibre 16 chronograph mentioned above, this is a more luxurious take on TAG Heuer’s signature sports watch due to its two-tone combination of yellow gold and steel.

 

Two-Tone TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Two-Tone TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16

 

The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 ref. CV2050 includes a yellow gold bezel on top of the 41mm steel case, along with yellow gold chronograph pushers and a yellow gold winding crown. There are also the yellow gold details on the dial and yellow gold center links on the metal bracelet.

 

TAG Heuer Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16

 

TAG Heuer released the Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16 back in 2008 and over the last decade, this particular version of the modern-day Carrera has enjoyed plenty of success. The Carrera Day-Date Caliber 16, such as this ref. CV2A10, includes a larger 43mm case fitted with a double-style winding crown and a top chronograph pusher with a sporty flash of red detailing.

 

TAG Heuer Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16 TAG Heuer Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16

 

As its name suggests, the dial of the watch includes both the day and the month, set in a sunken pair of windows at 3 o’clock. This particular model is a full stainless steel version with a black tachymeter bezel and black dial.

 

TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 

 

TAG Heuer launched the in-house Caliber 1887 movement in 2010 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the company. While the movement and the watch collection had a rocky start, the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 ref. CAR2012 made its debut in 2012.

 

TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 TAG Heuer Carrera 1887

 

The TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 ref. CAR2012 combines vintage-inspired design details, a clean dial sans tachymeter scale but rather minute hash marks placed on the inner bezel, and a large 43mm case. For added luxury, this particular Carrera 1887 includes rose gold applied Arabic numerals with matching rose gold center hands. Flip the watch around and you’ll spot the automatic Caliber 1887 though the sapphire caseback. Completing the look of the elegant chronograph is a black alligator leather strap.

 

TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01

 

In 2015, TAG Heuer launched the most modern version of the iconic Carrera chronograph with the new Carrera Heuer-01 collection. Rather than drawing inspiration from the Carrera archives, the Heuer-01 versions are unabashedly contemporary in design.

 

TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01 TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-01

 

While there are now dozens of references within the collection, it all started with the Carrera Heuer-01 CAR2A1Z.FT6044. Boasting a very large 45mm stainless steel and titanium case, a skeletonized dial, and an all-black color scheme, this is one aggressively designed men’s luxury watch. Of course, inside the case lies the in-house Heuer-01 automatic movement, visible through the sapphire caseback.

 

With 55 years of history behind it, the Carrera is a storied timepiece that almost didn’t make it. Lucky for us it did and today there’s an incredible assortment of Carrera models—from vintage-inspired to ultra-modern—to choose from.

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