Today on Monochrome-Watches, we’re going to look at TAG Heuer’s latest addition – and we’ll have a look at it through the hublot (the meaning of this last sentence will probably sound odd to you, but you’ll understand later). While the new strategy of TAG is to get back on track with the market of young, active and sport-oriented men (with watches like this one) or to look back at its past (with vintage oriented pieces like this one), the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 plays on another field. It’s technical, modern, visually complicated and different from anything else made by the brand. Let’s see if this watch is a proper TAG.
For most of us, a Carrera is a sports chronograph with a specific look that is easily recognizable. Even if it can be modern and look like that, it can also be a re-issue of the vintage 1960s editions, like the recently introduced Carrera Calibre 18 Chronograph Telemeter. Whatever the model, they all share specific attributes like a racing-car inspiration and a case with flat flanks and facetted lugs. A Carrera was, is and always will be a Carrera. However, the latest edition introduced by TAG Heuer at Baselworld 2015 and soon in stores is somehow far from all the previous models we’ve seen. If we look at the past and present production, it’s hard to find a link with this new timepiece and to understand where the inspirations come from. The best is probably to look at the rest of the industry – or maybe just to one company also owned by the same Group, Hublot.
The following statement is probably too easy and expected but it’s hard not to think that Jean-Claude Biver (CEO of TAG Heuer and Hublot) took a bit of Hublot’s DNA to create this new Carrera Calibre Heuer 01. The partially skeletonized dial, the modular construction, the mix between different colours and materials… all of that is reminiscent of Hublot. For sure, this Calibre Heuer 01 is still a Carrera in some ways. The shape of the lugs is intact and it is still a racing chronograph. However, the rest doesn’t feel like TAG Heuer. Is it a good move or something that we have to reject? Well, considering that TAG is creating a new strategy, having new inspirations and new models is always a good point. Is this watch the one to make the hardcore collectors fall in love? Not sure, but new-comers are always welcome.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 is the first of a future series of watches. Due to its modular construction, it will be easy for TAG to offer several iterations of this watch, with different styles, different colours or materials. The 45mm case is composed of 12 parts – the central part that holds the movement, the 4 lugs, the parts in-between the lugs, the bezel, the caseback, the pushers and the crown. This modularity allows to easily imagine a full black edition, a full titanium model or to include ceramic components or even small gold tips (in order to keep the price in the reasonable range) – and this is a concept that Hublot used for several years, with quite a large success. No clue if this could happen someday, but we can even imagine the watch to be customizable with genuine parts acquired at your authorized dealer (this could be actually quite cool).
The face of the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 also evokes some of the modern Hublot watches. The dial (not the movement) is opened to let some parts of the chronograph mechanism appear – you can see some levers and gears that actuate the chronograph hands underneath the sub-counter. This dial is not properly skeletonized but made in sapphire crystal with the indexes, sub-counter rings and logo applied on top of it. The date disc is however skeletonized (like in a Hublot…). The overall look is busy for sure – usual for an open-worked timepiece – but the legibility of the chronograph counters and the main hands (that are large and coated with luminous material) remains very decent – thanks to large indexes and red contrasting chrono hands.
Inside this new Carrera ticks the Calibre 01, which is basically a slightly reworked edition of the now famous and proven Calibre 1887. TAG Heuer uses this movement for several years now (since 2009) and since the cancelation of the Calibre Ch80, it is the upper-grade engine of the brand. The calibre 1887 is based on the Seiko 6S37 (or TC78) chronograph movement, which TAG Heuer acquired a license to manufacture – with several major updates however. The differences between the Calibre 01 and the Calibre 1887 are first a redesigned rotor (coated in black), a column wheel coated in red (and not blued like in the 1887) and a different chronograph bridge. The rest of the mechanics is similar and so is the 6-9-12 layout.
So… Is this watch worthy of the TAG Heuer logo? The answer is partially yes, as the roots are there (the overall shape of the case, the chronograph function, the racing-car inspiration…). This watch could feel like the evolution of the modern Carreras (a sort of super-edition of the Nismo). If Hublot didn’t exist and if there were no link between the two brands, this debate would have been irrelevant. However, this link between the two companies exists and we can’t hide the clear Biver-Touch here, with this modular construction of the case and the open-worked dial. These attributes alone are pleasant and give the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 a nice depth, some technicality and a 3D effect. TAG Heuer has to move and to create new things but keeping its own identity is important.
This Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 is a very nice stand-alone watch BUT it does suffer from the influence of its big sister Hublot (and this should be regarded as an insider’s remark. New-comers will certainly not feel the same as us). Furthermore, considering the complexity of the case and of the dial, the price remains decent at 4.700 Euros. More details on TAGHeuer.com.