Elegance & Innovation: A Hands-On Review With The New TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 42mm Collection
TAG Heuer introduces four new Carrera chronographs all powered by the brand’s in-house Heuer 02 movement.
TAG Heuer is a brand so steeped in tradition that we’d need more than a few articles to cover how we got from Heuer’s founding by Edouard Heuer in 1860 in St-Imier, Switzerland, to the present day. A brand so intrinsically linked to timekeeping perfection and the motorsports world that it has sponsored Formula 1 and other racing series for decades.
The Heuer 02 Movement
Under the leadership of CEO Frédéric Arnault (read HERE), TAG Heuer has embraced the latest technology (HERE) while simultaneously evolving its watchmaking offerings. At the center of this 'savoir-faire' is the brand's renowned in-house movements – notably, its latest innovation, the Heuer 02 chronograph movement.
Comprised of 168 components, this column-wheel chronograph movement is remarkable in that TAG Heuer has managed to innovate an already robust movement (the Heuer 01, read HERE) while staying true to the brand’s heritage and racing spirit. Like the movement found in the original Carrera released in 1963, the Heuer 02 pushes the boundaries of design and innovation by bringing forth cutting edge tech specs.
Most notably, the Heuer 02 chronograph boasts a power reserve of 80 hours, which represents a 62% (30-hour) increase over the Heuer 01 chronograph. The Heuer 02’s tri-compax design is also similar to the original Carrera, that was introduced over a half-century ago.
Furthermore, the Heuer 02 may very well be the most precise chronograph movement ever made by TAG Heuer. Beating at a frequency of 4 Hz, the Heuer 02 maintains optimum accuracy even through the most arduous of uses. As wearers of chronographs can attest, the sheer use of the complication can be a drag to timekeeping and power reserve, but that’s not the case with the Heuer 02 movement. Let’s explain.
With the Heuer 02 movement, TAG Heuer has integrated a vertical clutch that unlocks the start-stop functionality while advancing the chronograph second hand. This vertical clutch ensures that timekeeping continues uninterrupted regardless of chronograph use. Furthermore, the Heuer 02's column-wheel accurately and precisely delivers smooth operability via the chronograph pushers.
With its high-end finishing and elegant movement layout, the Heuer 02 is indeed a movement worthy of distinction and further exploration.
The Carrera Chronograph 42 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic
The new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph collection is a lineup of four distinct 42mm stainless steel novelties inspired by Carreras of yesteryear but with a keen eye towards modernity. Drawing inspiration from the original Carrera racing chronograph, these new Carreras are a subtle departure from the Carrera Sport Chronographs released in August 2020 (read HERE).
The most notable design tweak in the new Carrera Chronograph is that of the tachymeter bezel. Seen in nearly every Heuer 01 and Heuer 02 powered TAG Heuer chronograph, the tachymeter bezel has been removed in the new Carrera Chronograph 42 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic. According to the brand, this design choice was done "to keep the overall aesthetics in line with the unforgettable silver-dial Heuer Carrera that was originally launched in 1963.”
Aesthetically speaking, this slimmed-down Carrera Chronograph lineup is both minimalistic and appealing to novice and experienced collectors. TAG Heuer offers four dial options: opaline black, sunray brushed blue, anthracite, or silver with rose gold markers.
The dial features inset ‘azurage’ subdials at 3 and 9 o'clock, which indicate running chronograph hours and minutes. While at 6 o'clock, you'll find the running seconds, and just below that, you'll find the date complication. Though a date wasn't included in the original Carrera, this feature has proven to be a much-needed tool for today's gentlemen.
In The Metal
For review purposes, TAG Heuer allowed Watchonista to test drive two versions of the Carrera Chronograph 42 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic. We received the sunray brushed blue dial variant on a stainless steel H-shaped bracelet and the anthracite dial version on a brown leather alligator strap.
Both pieces had a robust quality in the metal while maintaining the look and feel of a TAG Heuer timepiece. The alternating polished and fine-brushed finishing on the stainless steel case lent an understated elegance to this otherwise sporty timepiece. The stainless steel bracelet felt smooth on the wrist, and the folding clasp was easy to operate.
For my 7.5" wrist, the curved lugs of the 42mm case wore nicely, and I didn't notice a considerable change in wearability when switching between the leather strap or metal bracelet. Typically, you'll find an added bulkiness when wearing a metal bracelet compared to a leather strap, but this wasn't the case with the new Carrera Chronograph. Both versions were comfortable to wear and felt natural on even my smallish wrists.
In terms of functionality, the Heuer 02 movement is relatively easy to use. I found the action of the round pushers at 2 and 4 o'clock smooth yet deliberate. Of course, a movement of this caliber is meant to be admired, and through the sapphire crystal caseback, you can do just that. The Heuer 02 movement and its rose gold colored oscillating mass finish off this well-executed interpretation of a vintage icon.
Pricing and Availability
The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 42 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is available in four versions. Two models on a stainless steel bracelet (available with opaline black or sunray brushed blue dials) and two models on brown alligator leather straps (available in either an anthracite or silver dial, like the original Carrera).
Available via TAG Heuer retailers and TAG Heuer’s e-commerce channels, the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 42mm collection starts at $5,350 on an alligator leather strap or bracelet and $5,550 for the silver dial with rose gold colored indices on an alligator leather strap. The collection is available to order starting today at TAG Heuer's e-commerce site.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)