TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer Birthday Gold Limited Edition
The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer Birthday Gold Limited Edition celebrates the 88th birthday of the man who masterminded the iconic Heuer Carrera back in 1963. This latest creation is presented in an 18-carat rose gold case and features the Swiss firm’s ultimate chronograph movement, the Calibre Heuer 02.
On the 19th November 1932, Jack William Edouard Heuer was born at Salem Hospital, Bern. He would grow up to become one of the leading lights of the Swiss watch industry.
Jack Heuer is probably most associated with chronographs. Perhaps his penchant for measuring elapsed time was genetic, after all, his great-grandfather, Edouard Heuer, invented the oscillating pinion back in 1887, a device that is still found in many chronographs today.
Just 25 years of age and having completed his studies, Jack was keen to make his mark. He had planned to travel to the United States and take up a position at a global consulting firm in Boston. However, Jack’s father persuaded him to join the family firm for a year and as a result Jack went on to spend most of his working life immersed in a world of habillage and movements.
Jack’s favourite watch
Under Jack’s watch, Heuer produced two iconic models, the Carrera (1963) and the Monaco (1969). Apparently, Jack’s favourite collection remains the Carrera. It was the first watch he created from start to finish.
While attending a race at Sebring, Florida, Jack spoke to the parents of the Rodriguez brothers, two Mexican race car drivers aged 19 and 21 at the time. Whilst chatting to Jack, the boys’ parents expressed their relief that the fearless duo were not allowed to compete in the Carrera Panamericana Mexico, a road race that was widely considered the most dangerous car race on the planet.
Jack would later mull over the Carrera name. He thought it sounded ‘sexy’ and he liked that it had several meanings in Spanish. As soon as he returned to Switzerland, he registered the name under ‘Heuer Carrera’ and a legend was born.
With a well-developed appreciation for architecture and design, Jack proved very adept at conceiving the inaugural Carrera’s look. His overriding obsession was legibility and uncluttered styling.
Back in 1963, the year the Carrera burst onto the watchmaking scene, Jack spoke with a supplier of plastic crystals that had just produced a steel tension ring to hold the plastic in position. Jack’s idea was to place a telemeter scale, a prerequisite at the time, on the tension ring rather than on the dial. By employing this approach, the Carrera’s dial looked cleaner and proved simpler to read.
Over the years Heuer, and then subsequently TAG Heuer, released different versions of the Carrera. The sports chronograph graced the wrists of numerous racing drivers as well as legions of stylish men. However, one glance at any Carrera timepiece demonstrates Jack’s obsession for clean design lives on.
Happy Birthday Jack
This year, TAG Heuer has released various limited-edition Carrera models as part of its 160th anniversary. Moreover, it has revisited the existing collection, releasing new 42mm and 44mm versions of the watch.
Now, just as 2020 begins to ebb away, the avant-garde Maison from La Chaux-de-Fonds has chosen to mark Jack Heuer’s 88th birthday by releasing a special timepiece, the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer Birthday Gold Limited Edition.
This new model, limited to just 188 pieces, is housed in a 42mm 18-carat 5N rose gold case, apparently Jack’s favourite metal. It was inspired by the original Heuer Carrera Ref. 1158CHN, housed in an 18-carat yellow gold, a popular shade for the time. However, this latest model is equipped with a superb modern-day movement, the Calibre Heuer 02.
At first glance the dial appears to be a bi-compax configuration similar to the Ref. 1158CHN, however, things are not quite what they first appear. Two black counters, a 30-minute register at 3 o’clock and a 12-hour register at 9 o’clock, dominate the horological vista. Each counter is embellished with a sunray motif and features a cambered track. Consistent with all recent Carrera’s, the obsessive attention to detail is manifest. The reasons for this faux bi-compax layout is that it proffers symmetry and emulates the look of the Ref. 1158CHN. The resultant aesthetic is exquisite.
A small running seconds resides at 6 o’clock. It exhibits a shy persona, eschewing virtually all markings save for two horizontal lines which help delineate the boundaries of the display. Again, the design is very intelligent. The onlooker is barely aware of the small seconds until the moment they choose to look for it, at which point it becomes apparent and lucidly imparts meaning.
A date aperture is positioned below the small seconds display while two 8’s are positioned on their side just near the fulcrum of the dial. They reference Jack’s age as well as symbolise infinity, a reference to his lasting relationship with TAG Heuer.
Fellow Heuer fans will note the shape of the golden hands. In common with several recent TAG Heuer models, they bear a strong resemblance to those fitted to the 1969 Monaco.
Allow your gaze to dwell for just a few seconds on the dial and you will discover other touches of the brand’s aesthetic genius. The indexes feature a central groove and a plethora of facets, efficiently playing with light. Between the indexes and minuterie is a channel marked with repeated smatterings of Super Lumi-Nova bestowing a green emission in dim light. The ‘Carerra’ name is proclaimed on the dial using new typography which looks modern and sharp.
The Carrera was always a great watch, but the recent models are suffused with a plethora of refinements.
TAG Heuer has not stuck doggedly to the past by creating a mere replica of the 1963 model. Instead, it has thought of today’s wearer and, in particular, present-day preferences. For example, the 42mm case is perfectly on trend.
The Swiss marque has enriched the case with a blend of polished and satin-brushed surfaces. This juxtaposition of different surface treatments imbues the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer Birthday Gold Limited Edition with an elegant and luxurious appearance.
Personally speaking, I adore the intricate contours of the capstan-like pushpieces. Moreover, I like the inward sloping inside edges of the lugs and the way they engage with ambient light. It is clear that TAG Heuer has deliberately sidestepped ‘perfunctory’, walked past ‘it will do’ and has checked into ‘considered design and execution’.
Forget the solid casebacks prevalent in the 1960s, this new watch is equipped with an exhibition caseback, affording views of the self-winding movement.
The watch is presented on a sumptuous black alligator strap with black lining and is paired with a rose gold pin buckle. In addition, the inside of the strap bears Jack Heuer’s signature, presented in gold lettering.
Over the last 18-months I have reviewed a throng of TAG Heuer ‘novelties’ and most of them have been equipped with the ultra-refined Calibre Heuer 02 automatic movement. This fully integrated movement also features on this commemorative watch, further heightening the model’s appeal.
The Calibre Heuer 02 features a column-wheel and vertical coupling. This delivers a buttery smoothness to the pushpieces. When the chronograph is actuated, there is no discernible hesitation, just a smooth getaway.
‘Drag’ is a problem which afflicts some chronographs. Sometimes when the chronograph is actuated, the amplitude of the balance drops and the timekeeping efficiency of the watch is compromised. This so-called ‘drag’ does not affect the Calibre Heuer 02.
The movement is decorated with Côtes de Genève motif. The oscillating weight is presented in black and engraved with Jack Heuer’s motto “Time never stops, why should we?”
Assuming the watch is fully wound it will run autonomously for 80 hours.
Throughout his life, Jack Heuer has seen, touched and worn many different watches. It is inevitable that with experience he not only knows when a watch is acceptable, but also what constitutes an exceptional timepiece. When the TAG Heuer team decided to create a watch to celebrate Jack’s birthday and make reference to him, it was imperative that the timepiece would pass muster.
I am pleased to say, this chronograph is not only beautifully executed, but also features a sublime movement. I suspect Jack, with his fastidious eye for detail, will be delighted with the result. Indeed, the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer Birthday Gold Limited Edition is a fitting tribute to a remarkable man. Furthermore, it clearly demonstrates this brand’s ambition and its impressive capabilities.
The TAG Heuer watches of today are both rich in detail and exhibit a notable sense of luxury. While I am sure Jack will receive lots of presents on his birthday, I suspect he will derive most pleasure from seeing the brand he led for most of his life in better shape than ever.
- Model: TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer Birthday Gold Limited Edition
- References: CBN2041.FC8306
Case: 18K 5N rose gold; diameter 42 mm; water resistance 10ATM (100m); sapphire crystal to the front and exhibition case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre Heuer 02 Manufacture; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve = 80 hours
- Bracelet: Black alligator strap with black lining paired with a rose gold pin buckle
- Price CHF 18,000 (RRP as at 19.11.2020)