TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16

Unveiled at Baselworld 2018, the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph indulges horophiles with a vintage-inspired aesthetic, stylish good looks and impressive value for money.

This detailed review of the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph includes live images, specification details and pricing.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph - vintage-inspired chronograph with tri-compax dial

Heuer invented the ‘oscillating pinion’, a device still used within many chronographs today. A major advance in the field of chronographs, the invention was subsequently patented in 1887. The die was cast, Heuer, and subsequently TAG Heuer, would forever be associated with measuring elapsed time.

In recent years, TAG Heuer has indulged fans of chronographs with a steady stream of new models. Some watches have been equipped with column-wheel movements, the purist’s choice, while others have focussed on affordability.

This year at Baselworld 2018, TAG Heuer celebrated the 55th anniversary of its highly popular  Carrera series, a collection of motoring-inspired watches. To mark this important milestone, the Swiss brand unveiled the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph, offered in two versions, blue and black.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph - vintage-inspired chronograph with tri-compax dial

The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph upholds the brand’s reputation for delivering value, with a keen sticker price of £3500 (RRP as at 18.5.2018). However, despite this attractive virtue, I am drawn to this model for another reason. Quite simply, the black dial version is gorgeous.

The dial

‘Contrast’ is the name of the game, a game this watch plays very well. Three white subdials step out from the stealthy backdrop of the dial, inviting the wearer to move closer and absorb the information presented.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph - vintage-inspired chronograph with tri-compax dial

The silver-toned hour and minute hands are highly polished and lined with beige luminescent treatment. This latter detail delivers a vintage-feel to the watch, a characteristic ubiquitously found on this chronograph.

Each hour is marked with a polished, rhodium-plated index. Again, beige luminescent treatment is employed.

The three aforementioned subdials dominate the display. A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned below noon and a 12-hour chronograph register resides at 6 o’clock. Both of these subdials share the same design and scale. A small seconds display is positioned at 9 o’clock and plays a deferential role to its larger neighbours. Each subdial is tastefully suffused with red detail, sharing the same typography. The legibility of each indication is excellent.

Usually, I prefer a bi-compax layout to a tri-compax design owing to the symmetry that two subdials confers. However, in this instance the date aperture at 3 o’clock, together with the surrounding text, provides visual balance with the subdial opposite. The layout and proportions of the dial design provide a harmonious whole.

The white flange is marked with ¼ second integers. This, in combination with the bold, red chronograph seconds hand, makes reading-off elapsed seconds a matter of child’s play.

The case

Measuring 41mm in diameter, the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph is perfectly sized, proving suitable for a broad spectrum of would-be wearers. Some fans of vintage watches may argue for a smaller case, but I disagree; its dimensions are superb and should retain a lasting appeal.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph - vintage-inspired chronograph with tri-compax dial

Encircling the dial is a black ceramic bezel, marked with a tachymeter scale. Despite the keen price of this model, TAG Heuer has not shortchanged its customers, the materials it has selected and the execution of several components prove very impressive.

The steel case is highly polished. This, together with the black leather strap, enlivened with red stitching, ensure the watch will be noticed.

The crown shares a similar appearance to the brand’s contemporary Formula 1 models. I would not have envisaged this crown suiting the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph, however, the crown and the case prove happy bedfellows.

TAG Heuer has deftly played the vintage card. The capstan-style push-pieces look superb and echo the design found on vintage Carrera models from the 1960s.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph - vintage-inspired chronograph with tri-compax dial

Gracing the rear of the timepiece is a steel screw-on case-back, stamped with the company’s logo, the Carrera name and the watch’s specified water resistance. Personally, I prefer exhibition case-backs and would have appreciated a glimpse of the engine on this motoring-inspired watch. However, some purists will point out that for this timepiece to successfully emulate a vintage chronograph, a solid case-back is more appropriate. Ultimately, this aspect of the watch is of minor importance and does nothing to diminish its overall allure.

The movement

The Calibre 16 has been in TAG Heuer’s repertoire for some time. Whilst it is not the brand’s highest specification chronograph calibre, it remains a robust, Swiss movement featuring rapid date correction.

The frequency of the balance is 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 21 jewels. The power-reserve is sufficient to deliver 42 hours of autonomy.

Owing to the solid case-back, it was not possible to appraise the finishing of the self-winding movement.

Closing remarks

Although I would always counsel my children to avoid forming judgements on looks alone, I concede it was the appearance of the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph which ensnared my heart. It is one of the most attractive watches I have seen of late.

In 1963, Jack Heuer designed his first Carrera chronograph. In his autobiography, ‘The Times of My Life’ he recalled the design principles behind the watch and stated, ‘I wanted a dial that had a clear, clean design..’. It was Heuer’s obsession for uncluttered, legible dials which would go on to influence the design of the brand’s watches over the ensuing years. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise, that beyond its good looks, this chronograph proves highly legible.

The Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph delivers a competitive blend of quality and value. The dial is enriched with colour and texture. The bezel is ceramic, a material normally found on costlier watches, and the case is well executed, featuring an array of incredibly smooth surfaces.

The name, ‘Heuer’ has huge cachet with collectors of vintage chronographs. Sadly, high auction prices have pushed these watches out of the reach of many would-be buyers. By releasing this vintage-inspired timepiece, TAG Heuer has created an attractive watch that captures the beauty of past whilst offering impressive affordability. The Maison’s reputation for creating fine chronographs continues unabated.

Further information

https://www.tagheuer.com

Technical specification

  • Model: TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41mm; sapphire crystal to front and solid case-back; water resistant to 10 atm (100 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
  • Movement: Calibre 16; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 21jewels; power reserve 42 hours
  • Strap: Black leather strap with contrasting red stitching
  • Price: £3500 (RRP as at 18.5.2018)