With 60 years of history behind its name, you can certainly expect the emblematic Carrera to have been offered in more than just a few editions. In fact, countless styles, movements and shapes have been used over the years. Some are, arguably, more iconic than others. In addition to the classic silver or panda dials found on the first-generation models, the brand has long been creative, releasing original dials such as the Montreal-inspired Carrera or, looking back at the 1960s, a version known to be one of the most collectable and most distinctive; the Carrera Skipper. The brightly-coloured, instantly recognizable regatta chronograph is back, 40 years after it disappeared from the collection.
The Heuer Carrera Skipper name refers to more than just one watch, however, a model in particular (which you can see below) surely defines the look of this watch. The Skipper has seen the light of day in 1968, and has been in production up until 1983. Although later versions of the Skipper used the Autavia case, the very first examples (of which only around 300 were made) were based on the classic Carrera chronograph.
What made this watch special? First of all, it was dedicated to regatta races, where contrary to motorsport, the start of the race is not as easy as standing still on a starting grid. A regatta countdown timer reveals the critical time remaining before the start of a boat race, which can vary anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. A regatta race is preceded by audible and visual signs to alert skippers to get themselves positioned as close to the imaginary starting line as possible. Manoeuvring a boat at sea and dealing with erratic wind and waves is not quite like a runner on blocks waiting for the signal. Yachts tack back and forth, and a countdown period lets them manoeuvre to the best position being very careful not to cross the imaginary starting line.
For this reason, the classic Carrera chronograph was modified to display a 15-minute sub-dial, the latter becoming a 15-minute regatta pre-start counter separated into three, five-minute segments. Each of these segments was a different colour, with vivid orange being used to alert the crew to the fact that there was just five minutes to go; green to represent the colour of the boat’s rigging and light teal in the middle. This boldly-coloured watch, with a brushed blue base dial, became a cult edition. It was somehow revived in 2017 by our colleagues at Hodinkee, and now comes back as a member of the permanent collection.
The new TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper
Exactly 40 years after the end of the production, the emblematic colourful dial of the Carrera Skipper is back, within the cool and distinctive case of the recently-introduced Carrera Glassbox Chronograph. In keeping with the elements that made the old version of the Carrera Skipper a rather unique take on the Carrera, the new version also shares a fair amount of evolutions compared to the classic model it uses as a base.
Starting with the case, we find here the original and visually appealing bezel-less construction of the “Glassbox” watch. The 39mm case is made of stainless steel with polished top surfaces and brushed flanks. What makes it special and visually cool is the fact that no bezel is used on this watch. The ultra-domed box-shaped crystal is directly attached to the case without a traditional framing element. It thus extends to the very edge of the case. The result is a watch where you can see the dial from the side and that offers warm, vintage-like distortions. It is paired with a curved internal flange that reinforces this domed effect.
The rest of the case used for this new TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper is fully identical to the classic reversed panda or blue Glassbox chronographs. As such, it retains its comfortable 100m water-resistance (useful for a yachting watch) as well as its relatively compact proportions. If the height is measured at about 14mm (manageable for a modern automatic chronograph), the 39mm diameter and restrained 46mm lug-to-lug make this watch very comfortable on the wrist. The sharp, faceted lugs and oversized pump-like pushers are reminders that this watch is, first and foremost, a Carrera.
It’s time now to talk about what really matters, about the element that makes a Skipper a Skipper… The dial. In line with the bold and distinctive style used on the vintage first-gen models, the new Carrera Skipper comes with a dark blue, nautically-inspired dial with a circular-brushed surface. This dial is punctuated by large and legible rhodium-plated, faceted hands and applied markers. In addition to the phantom-like small seconds and framed date window at 6 o’clock, it’s mostly the counters that create the link with the past.
The 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock features a “skipper” mention and is teal-toned, while the all-important minute counter at 3 o’clock comes with the cult 3-tone segments in Intrepid teal, Lagoon Green and Regatta Orange. And you’ll note that it changed from a 30-minute display to a countdown-style 15-minute display, implying some modifications to the movement. The last touch of colour is provided by the orange lacquered central seconds hand. Overall, a distinctive and original dial that blends modern and historical elements.
Inside the case is the Calibre TH20-06, an evolution of the movement found in the Carrera Glassbox, itself an update of the Calibre Heuer02. This in-house, integrated automatic chronograph movement relies on a column wheel and vertical clutch architecture and delivers a solid 80-hour power reserve. It now offers a bi-directional winding and has a slightly more modern decoration, with a newly-designed rotor.
Availability & price
Worn on a water-resistant blue fabric strap, closed by a folding clasp, the new TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper is now available from the brand’s e-commerce website, its boutique and retailers. It is part of the permanent collection and isn’t limited. It is priced at EUR 6,850, CHF 6,600 or USD 6,750. For more details, please consult www.tagheuer.com.