TAG Heuer CARRERA Calibre Heuer 01
Continuous improvement since 1860
With the shrewd guidance of Jean-Claude Biver at the helm, TAG Heuer has released some interesting new watches this year including an eye-catching chronograph, the TAG Heuer CARRERA Calibre Heuer 01. Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with this new attractively priced timepiece which features a column-wheel chronograph and interesting case construction.
The Japanese espouse ‘Kaizen’, a business philosophy of continuous improvement and, as some believe, a prerequisite to commercial success. However, the pursuit of continuous improvement is not solely the preserve of the Japanese. TAG Heuer, the avant-garde Swiss watch company from La Chaux-de-Fonds, repeatedly pursues the goal of absolute perfection, releasing a constant stream of innovative products which confer greater wearer delight.
It should therefore come as no surprise that this year the inventive brand has delivered another collection of alluring watches to tempt the public to part with their hard-earned cash. The TAG Heuer CARRERA Calibre Heuer 01 is a perfect illustration of a timepiece which offers something new whilst remaining true to the essence of TAG Heuer’s history and values.
TAG Heuer has always been synonymous with the chronograph ever since Edouard Heuer invented the oscillating pinion in 1887; a component which remains a fundamental element of many chronographs to this day.
The TAG Heuer CARRERA Calibre Heuer 01 represents a new chapter for the long established company. It features a new case, new method of construction and a new calibre. The nomenclature, or more specifically the suffix which follows the Heuer name, doffs its hat to the founder of the company, the aforementioned Edouard Heuer. This new timepiece represents a further exciting chapter in the evolution of the company. Furthermore, the Calibre Heuer 01 substantially enhances the existing Calibre 1887.
The CARRERA Calibre Heuer 01 is equipped with an open-worked dial, but not in the sense that you can see fully through the watch. The open-worked dial merely allows the wearer to observe some of the movement parts industriously interacting beneath the sapphire crystal. I personally appreciate this approach by TAG Heuer.
Unlike some open-worked watches, the Calibre Heuer 01 does not embarrass hirsute owners with a magnified view of their overly hairy arms. Indeed, as a fellow sufferer of neanderthal-like arms, I welcome the absence of a front to back view.
The hour and minute hands are bold and simple to see, courtesy of shiny, polished and faceted surfaces, together with the use of white Super Luminova™. A red central chronograph seconds hand introduces a blissful red tone to proceedings, harmoniously coalescing with the predominantly monochrome colour scheme.
Baton like indices blend red and white luminescent materials to denote the hours.
Three subdials are presented on the Calibre Heuer 01. These are open-worked at their centres, framed with snailed circlets and marked with succinct strokes to enhance ease of read-off.
The small seconds display is positioned at 9 o’clock. It is smaller than the two other subdials positioned adjacent and features a grey circlet along with a polished rhodium-plated hand.
Two chronograph registers are positioned on a central axis running from noon to 6 o’clock. The upper subdial is a 30-minute chronograph register, whilst its counterpart, located underneath, is a 12-hour chronograph register. Both of the chronograph registers include silver-toned snailed circlets and red hands.
The date disc is openly shown, revealing the prevailing date via a red bordered aperture. Positioned adjacent to said aperture is the brand’s logo, applied to the underside of the sapphire crystal and seemingly floating above the dial. A tachymeter scale, a common feature on other TAG Heuer chronographs, completes the inventory of functions.
By creating the open-worked Calibre Heuer 01, some traditionalists may argue that TAG Heuer has abandoned its reputation for ultra-clean, simple to read dials. Whilst I concede the Calibre Heuer 01 is not as easy to read as, say, the recently launched CARRERA (39mm) Calibre 18, it still remains highly legible.
However, where the dial of the Calibre Heuer 01 excels is by offering a myriad of fascinating details. The dial charms the wearer with a plethora of openly disclosed parts, presented at differing depths. This is a dial which encourages close scrutiny and begs the observer to explore the numerous wheels and hands at play.
The TAG Heuer CARRERA Calibre Heuer 01 is an overtly masculine watch, measuring a significant 45mm in diameter.
One unusual aspect of this watch is the complexity of its case construction. Most watches consist of a single piece case, with the caseback, sapphire crystal(s), crown, push-pieces and bezel subsequently added.
The case of the Calibre Heuer 01 adopts a modular construction method, incorporating 12 different components. Moving forward, this will allow TAG Heuer to create many line extensions by introducing alternative materials, different finishes and new colourways. This particular model features a black case with stainless steel lugs which blend satin-brushed and polished surfaces. Beneath the bezel, which incidentally sports a polished bevelled edge, is a ring of red, enlivening the case and contrasting magnificently with the predominantly black surfaces.
The anthracite bezel is adorned with a Tachymeter scale, depicted in crisp white text and proving eminently legible.
The push-pieces are very neat and don’t unduly protrude. The upper push-piece, for actuating and stopping the chronograph, is located at 2 o’clock and features a red circlet. The lower push-piece, at 4 o’clock, stops the chronograph function and incorporates a black circlet as a means of differentiation from its sibling residing above.
The crown is steel with overmoulded rubber. The grip consists of straight, parallel lines which deliver a neatness to the crown’s surface. The vertical flank of the crown is adorned with a simplified, gleaming TAG Heuer logo, presented in relief. Whilst displaying a high degree of style, the crown remains functional, proving simple to operate as well as granting a sumptuous tactile feel.
The lugs affix to the case with four black screws equipped with unusual heads. These are framed with red gasket-like trimmings, adding a further cheery note to the aesthetics.
A perforated rubber strap reinforces the racy persona of the Calibre Heuer 01 and is paired with a high quality deployant buckle which closes with a reassuringly positive action.
The case construction of the Calibre Heuer 01 is profoundly impressive and all the more remarkable considering the modest asking price of £4000 (RRP as at 1.8.2015). Whilst this is not an inconsequential sum of money, the specification and finish of the watch are very impressive and the comparative value for money is readily discernible within moments of placing the Calibre Heuer 01 upon the arm.
At the heart of this new timepiece is the new TAG Heuer Calibre Heuer 01 Manufacture movement and therefore it should come as no surprise that the Swiss brand has chosen to showcase it via an exhibition caseback.
The Calibre Heuer 01 is referred to as the ‘horological development of the Calibre 1887’. Whilst some of the bridges of the new movement resemble those found on the Calibre 1887, there are differences which are clear to see.
A new red coloured column-wheel replaces the blue-hued item of the Calibre 1887. A new open-worked chronograph bridge is another change which has been made to the movement.
The oscillating mass is perhaps the most obvious difference. It is presented in black and sports a spoke design, reminiscent of an alloy wheel found on a high performance car. TAG Heuer has not mentioned this association in its press material, but the automotive reference seems obvious to me, reinforcing the link between the CARRERA nomenclature and the world of four-wheeled, octane-powered vehicles.
All elements of the movement construction ooze modernity and reinforce the contemporary character of this new timepiece.
Beyond the aesthetics, the most important aspect of any movement is how it performs. Rest assured, this is a champion in waiting.
The push-pieces operate with a wonderfully positive action, illustrating the comparitive superiority of column-wheel chronographs.
There is a notable and very welcome absence of stutter once the chronograph is actuated and the red central chronograph seconds hand commences its journey. Indeed, the red-hued hand leaves the starting blocks without the merest hint of wobble.
This is a stunning movement and its specification is all the more impressive based on the modest and highly competitive asking price.
Under the guidance of Jean-Claude Biver, the CEO of TAG Heuer, the Swiss watch brand has gone back to basics, delivering accessibly priced, high quality timepieces. With an array of attributes and a keen asking price of £4000 (RRP as at 1.8.2015), there is much to suggest that Biver is on to a winner with this new timepiece and I, for one, look forward to seeing more developments of the Calibre Heuer 01.
Indeed, based on recent evidence, not only has TAG Heuer been an exemplar of ‘continuous improvement’, it has embraced this business philosophy with a new-found impetus.
- Model: TAG Heuer CARRERA Calibre Heuer 01
- Ref: CAR2A1Z.FT6044
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 45mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph.
- Movement: Calibre Heuer 01, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz), 39 jewels; power reserve 50 hours
- Strap: Rubber strap presented on a deployant
- Price: £4000 (RRP as at 1.8.2015)