TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition
The TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition celebrates the 160th anniversary of Edouard Heuer inaugurating his eponymous company. The Swiss brand has created a modern-day reinterpretation of the coveted Carrera 2447S of 1964, encompassing period details but expertly refining the composition for the delectation of today’s watch enthusiast.
Last year, 2019, TAG Heuer celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic Monaco. The inaugural model was released in 1969 and combined two groundbreaking features. Firstly, the watch contained the now legendary Calibre 11, the first automatic chronograph movement. Secondly, the model was housed in the first water-resistant square case. Over the years, the Monaco received subtle modifications and yet, despite the passage of time, the overall appearance of the watch remained virtually unchanged.
However, in 2019, the Swiss avant-garde firm created a series of limited-edition models encompassing vibrant hues and captivating dial textures. The brand’s capacity to innovate new models was manifest with each additional colourful reference.
Carrera – a legend is born
This year, the luxury marque has once again removed the bunting and party hats from the box marked ‘celebration materials’ and is ready to drink a toast to another iconic model, the Carrera. The model was named after the ‘most dangerous sports car race in the world’, running along the Mexican section of the Pan-American Highway. The adrenaline-infused race gained a reputation for danger with many accidents and even fatalities. Indeed, it was not for the fainthearted. The Spanish word ‘Carrera’ has several meanings, including ‘road, race, course and career’. Jack Heuer felt the word sounded exotic and in 1962 vowed that his next new model would be named ‘Carrera’.
In 1963, Jack Heuer designed his first Carrera chronograph. The initial model was fitted with a plastic crystal, typical of the era as sapphire crystals did not exist back then. A manufacturer of plastic crystals invented a steel tension ring that fitted inside the crystal, placing it under tension as it sat against the surrounding steel case, thereby enhancing the watch’s water resistance. Jack Heuer ingeniously used the inside bevel of the tension ring, marking it with ⅕ of a second integers. By placing the markings on the tension ring and not the dial, the dial appeared cleaner and less cluttered. Later, the tension ring was used for a tachymeter scale and the ⅕ of a second integers were repositioned on the main dial surface. However, the principle of clean, uncluttered dial design has always prevailed and still remains evident on modern-day Carreras.
Image – Heuer Carrera 2447S circa 1964
Jack Heuer was a great admirer of modern design, citing Le Corbusier and Charles Eames as creative influences. Certainly, all Carrera models eschew the superfluous, feature minimal branding and prove highly legible. One year after the launch of the initial Carrera, Heuer (the former name of TAG Heuer) unveiled the ‘2447S’. This model was endowed with a tri-compax dial configuration, featuring snailed counters, and a monochrome, silver display. Recently, the watch firm unveiled a modern-day homage to the 2447S, the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition. This model celebrates the founding of the Maison in 1860 when Edouard Heuer established his eponymous company in the Jura mountains, not too far from the company’s present location in La Chaux de Fonds.
Designed to capture the essence of the 2447S, this up to date timepiece also incorporates several contemporary details, augmenting its relevance to modern-day audiences.
The dial of the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition bears a very close resemblance to the aforementioned 2447S. However, this present-day model should not be considered a replica but more of a reinterpretation. For example, the watch has grown a little, measuring 39mm in diameter in contrast to its forebear’s 36mm case. This allows greater room for each element of the dial to breathe more easily.
On the 2447S, the perimeter of the dial incorporates two tracks, one marked with ⅕ of a second integers and a second track showing a minute split into 100 integers. On its modern-day counterpart, the dial eschews the latter track and Arabic numerals, leading to a cleaner, less fussy design.
TAG Heuer has embellished the dial surface with a silver sunray brush. It adds a degree of luxury to the appearance of the dial without marring its purity with unnecessary flamboyance. The hour and minute hands are now faceted and lined with beige Super-LumiNova, usurping the radioactive tritium of the 1964 model. Elongated and faceted baton-type indexes convey much meaning with minimal fuss. Adjacent each index is a small circlet of beige Super-LumiNova, matching the hour and minute hands and augmenting the overall cohesion of the dial composition.
TAG Heuer has retained the period branding of the 2447S with the collection name and Heuer moniker, again positioned below noon. However, a close examination of the dial reveals that this branding has gently evolved, providing a cleaner look.
As mentioned previously, the dial of the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition upholds the tri-compax layout of the 2447S. However, TAG Heuer has not merely produced a facsimile of those registers found on the 1964 model. No, quite the contrary, there are significant differences. Firstly, the tracks framing the registers slope downwards, introducing a delightful play with differing depths. Secondly, the registers are snailed, adding a becoming texture and heightening the sense of luxury. Lastly, the arrangement of the registers is different.
The 30-minute chronograph register continues to reside at 3 o’clock, whereas the small seconds and 12-hour chronograph registers have swapped homes. Now, the small seconds sits at 6 o’clock and the 12-hour register is positioned at 9 o’clock. The reason for this change can be attributed to the movements found in the 2447S and the latest TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition. The vintage model features a Valjoux 72, a hand-wound chronograph movement, while the new model is equipped with the contemporary automatic Calibre Heuer 02 manufacture movement.
Measuring 39mm, the scale of the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition panders to modern tastes. Personally, while I often find vintage watches very beautiful, invariably they are unsuitable for my behemoth wrists. This present-day model seems more relevant to my needs. Moreover, the 39mm stainless steel case should find favour with most wearers, conferring agreeable wrist presence but without appearing cumbersome.
The domed sapphire crystal upholds the glass box design of the plastic crystals prevalent in the 1960s. This imbues the watch with a sense of nostalgia but, courtesy of its sapphire crystal, it delivers superior robustness, something I am sure all wearers will appreciate.
The case is highly polished, heightening the perception of luxury. In addition, the capstan-style pushers and faceted lugs, previously seen on the 1964 model, continue to proffer much eye-appeal. The crown retains the prominent knurling found on the 2447S but sits closer to the case band, appearing neater.
TAG Heuer has chosen to equip the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition with a black alligator strap paired with a folding clasp. Personally, I would have preferred the watch to have a perforated strap, similar to the 2447S, albeit I concede that many readers will not share my point of view.
The dorsal plane of the watch features an exhibition caseback, granting sight of the Calibre Heuer 02 manufacture movement. The partially openworked oscillating weight is adorned with the text ‘160 years of avant-garde’, while the caseback is engraved with the inscription ‘one of 1860’.
While the exterior of the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition is decidedly retro, the Calibre Heuer 02 manufacture is infused with a high quotient of modernity. Unlike the Valjoux 72 found in the 2447S, the Calibre Heuer 02 is automatic, delivering added convenience.
The Calibre Heuer 02 is produced in the brand’s state of the art movement facility in Chevenez. Its specification indulges purists with its column wheel and vertical clutch ensemble. When the stopwatch function is actuated, the central chronograph seconds hand commences its journey without any discernible hesitation. Furthermore, pressing the pushers rewards the wearer with a creamy smoothness that encourages fingers to repeatedly ‘play’, starting, stopping and resetting the chronograph over and over again.
While the Valjoux 72 had a frequency of 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), the balance within the Calibre Heuer 02 has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz), a popular tempo found on many modern watches. The benefit of operating at a high frequency is that the movement will be more precise and provide superior stability (meaning the rate accuracy remains relatively constant).
The Heuer 02 has an impressive power reserve of 80 hours. This contemporary movement offers several benefits over its older sibling the Heuer 01 and has recently been employed with the iconic Monaco. Quite simply, this modern movement is an absolute gem.
Throughout this article, I have contrasted the 2447S with the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition. Comparing the original watch with its modern-day counterpart, the 1960s model looks more utilitarian, albeit both watches share clean, highly legible displays.
Traditionalists often covet the highly sought-after 2447S, no doubt frustrated by their legendary scarcity. Often, so-called purists yearn for period details such as tritium hand and dial markings, plastic crystals, patination and period sizing. However, I do not share such horological fetishes.
While I like the aesthetics of a vintage watch, there are some modern-day attributes that I always seek in a watch. Personally, I favour a pristine dial, bright Super-LumiNova, a gleaming case, generous proportions and the convenience of an automatic movement. The TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition has all these characteristics. Furthermore, the uncluttered, highly legible dial that Jack Heuer obsessed over in 1963 is now even better on this 21st-century version. Indeed, it is one of the prettiest and most practical dials I have ever seen on a TAG Heuer model, which is no mean feat considering the brand’s prowess for design.
Ultimately, this brings me to the most salient point about the TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition, namely it demonstrates the brand’s unwavering pursuit of improvement. Quite simply, TAG Heuer’s models just keep getting better. Furthermore, this advancement is conjoined with the brand’s capacity to innovate, manifest with the superb Calibre Heuer 02 movement as well as the numerous creative designs that have originated from TAG Heuer’s headquarters of late. TAG Heuer’s passion for progress shines ever brighter, some 160 years after the company was founded.
- Model: TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition
- Reference: CBK221B.FC6479
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 39mm; water resistance 10ATM (100m); sapphire crystal to front and rear
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre Heuer 02 manufacture; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve 80 hours.
- Price: £5,295 (RRP as at 28.1.2020)
- Limited edition: 1860 pieces