TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph
The TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph is a new special edition model featuring Porsche-themed elements. In addition, TAG Heuer and Porsche have recently announced ‘the strongest-ever partnership between a car manufacturer and a watch brand’.
Avid fans of watchmaking will immediately recognise the name, ‘Carrera’. The legendary chronograph can trace its origins to 1963.
While attending a race at Sebring, Florida in 1963, Jack Heuer heard of the Carrera Panamericana, an exotically sounding road race that traversed Mexico. As soon as he landed back in Switzerland, he registered the name, ‘Heuer Carrera’ and, as a result, a horological legend was born.
However, as any Porsche owners can attest, the name ‘Carrera’ has also adorned the engine cover of many Porsche 911s. This shared love for the ‘Carrera’ name is just one thing that connects TAG Heuer and Porsche. As I will go onto explain, both brands share a love of performance and an overriding obsession with time.
Porsche and TAG Heuer have recently announced ‘the strongest-ever partnership between a car manufacturer and a watch brand’. However, this is not the first time the two firms have collaborated. For example, in 2019, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team competed in numerous cities dotted around the globe. There have also been other genres of motorsport where the two luxury brands have sat side by side.
Now, the two companies will be permanently conjoined, competing in motorsport events around the world. Both firms have also stated they will play an active role jointly sponsoring golf and tennis events. But most pertinently of all for many horophiles, this new partnership provides an exciting period for the Swiss watch brand and promises much creativity and innovation.
It’s been a busy time
In 2019, TAG Heuer celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Monaco, another motorsport-themed creation. Last year, it revisited the styling of the Carrera. Guy Bove, the Creative Director of TAG Heuer, along with his team, skilfully refined the model, paying close attention to each facet and curve, as well as every touchpoint.
Throughout 2020, the Swiss avant-garde brand launched a number of limited-edition versions of the Carrera. The Maison chose not to cynically rebadge existing models and market them as special. On the contrary, TAG Heuer demonstrated amazing creativity, releasing several models endowed with original styling. Personally, I fell for the Montreal and the Fragment Design limited-edition models. Based on the social media activity I saw, it would appear that I was not alone.
In July 2020, the Carrera Sport Chronograph 44mm was unveiled and received widespread approval. The new model felt a cut above its forebears. Moreover, it still delivered the peerless readability common to all Carrera models dating back to the inaugural version of 1963. Two months later, the Carrera Elegant Chronograph was launched. Its appearance was more formal and it was slightly smaller, measuring 42mm in diameter. At first glance, this latter model appeared to be a bicompax design, but close examination of the dial revealed a discreet small seconds display at 6 o’clock. On one hand, it was unassuming but on the other, it remained eminently legible.
Now, as part of the new Porsche & TAG Heuer partnership, the historic watch brand has just released the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition 44mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic. There is certainly a welcome sense of familiarity with this timepiece, but the model features some new elements as well.
The dial of the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph is presented in grey asphalt, an anthracite-like hue intended to replicate blacktop.
Last year, TAG Heuer adopted the tried and trusted Monaco-style hands for its regular Carrera models. These hands date back to 1969 when the square-cased chronograph burst onto the watch scene. Even today they still look fresh and ultra-modern. In this instance, the rhodium-plated hour and minute hands are partially lined in white Super-LumiNova, proving more understated than the ebullient red hands fitted to the Monaco.
Double-digit Arabic numerals denote the hours, emulating the appearance of a dashboard instrument. It’s hard not to conjure up thoughts of a rev-counter with its needle touching the redline.
Three counters dominate the dial. A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour chronograph register is located at 9 o’clock and a small seconds display resides at 6 o’clock. Both chronograph registers feature snailed detail, Arabic numerals and tasteful flashes of red. The track framing each chronograph register is angled, sloping inwards towards the centre of the counter.
The small seconds display eschews the snailed detail found on the chronograph registers and is much smaller in size. Moreover, it shuns any red detail, favouring a monochrome palette while the date is presented via an aperture positioned within the small seconds indication. The date values are presented in white atop a black disc and wonderfully contribute to the overall sense of cohesion.
A minute track is positioned on a flange which encircles the dial’s granular epidermis. Each mark on the minute track represents a ¼-second step, matching the 4Hz frequency of the movement. The rhodium-plated central chronograph seconds hand virtually kisses the flange, making read-off especially simple. The liberal application of red on the tip of this hand further enhances readability.
From a personal perspective, there are many details on this dial which appeal to me, such as the triangular indexes at the cardinal points, along with the soupçons of red positioned adjacent. Likewise, the applied indexes and the multi-level counters masterfully play with depths and elicit a smile of appreciation. Quite simply, TAG Heuer has expended much energy refining the smallest of details and suffusing each surface with a feeling of sumptuousness.
Housed in a 44mm steel case, the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph shares the same case as the ‘regular’ Sport Chronograph 44mm. This makes sense as the case of the updated Carrera of 2020 is truly exquisite. It is comprised of both highly polished and fine-brushed surfaces. The latter finish tempers the exuberance of the former. Both types of finish are placed in close proximity necessitating much time and skill to bring to fruition. Indeed, it is imperative that each finish remains discrete with crisp delineation. I am pleased to report that TAG Heuer has shown that it is more than up to the task with all surfaces, facets and flanks exhibiting a peerless appearance.
The lugs are beautifully designed. On their outer-edge, they angle downwards towards the caseband. In itself this is not out of the ordinary, however, there is an inner bevelled edge that slopes towards the strap or bracelet. This would have incurred additional machining costs, but, in my opinion, the resultant aesthetic looks sublime.
The chronograph pushpieces exhibit a capstan-like profile with the central recessed section presented in a stealthy shade of black.
As stated earlier, the hour and minute hands can trace their origins to the Monaco of 1969. Likewise, the crown bears a strong resemblance to those used on the highly popular Formula One models. The fluted grip of the Carrera’s crown is dissected with a channel, presented in a cheery shade of red.
A pane of sapphire crystal to the rear of the watch affords views of the self-winding movement. This glazing is surrounded by a gleaming circlet of brightwork. In addition, the undersides of the lugs are, once again, highly polished.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph is available with the firm’s ‘H-shape bracelet’. Consistent with the brand’s other bracelets, it is beautifully executed. The folding clasp and double safety push-buttons, first seen on the updated Carrera of 2020, feel impressively robust and close with a sweet, positive action.
Alternatively, the watch can be specified with an embossed calf leather strap, presented in black and paired with prominent grey stitching. The appearance of the strap resembles the stitched leather seats of a 911, where two panels of hide are joined with a prominent seam.
I have deliberately saved one of my favourite details to the end, the bezel. Formed of black ceramic, fixed and marked with white numerals, it serves as a tachymeter, a useful feature for trackside observers. However, unlike the regular Carrera, the word ‘Tachymeter’ is supplanted by the ‘Porsche’ name. It is presented in the car marque’s typeface and favoured shade of red.
The Swiss watch brand has equipped the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph with the Calibre Heuer 02 movement. In recent times it has become the Swiss brand’s go-to chronograph movement. This is not surprising as it is superb. Allow me to elaborate.
Where many chronographs are modular, consisting of a base movement and module on top, the Calibre Heuer 02 is fully integrated. Rather than being modified to fulfil a requirement, the Heuer 02 was always intended to be a chronograph. By adopting this approach there is less ‘drag’. When a modular chronograph is actuated, the additional energy requirement causes the amplitude of the balance to drop (drag), impairing precision.
Furthermore, with integrated chronographs, a column wheel and vertical coupling prove the optimum pairing. When contrasted with a cam-actuated chronograph, the pushpiece feel is superior, bestowing a buttery-smooth action. Likewise, when the chronograph is started, the central chronograph seconds hand immediately commences its journey, free of any wobble.
The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and, assuming the mainspring is fully wound, the watch will run autonomously for 80 hours. The column wheel is presented in red and the bridges are embellished with Côtes de Genève motif. Finally, the oscillating weight is designed to resemble the appearance of a Porsche 3-spoke steering wheel.
Last year, when TAG Heuer unveiled the new Carrera Sport Chronograph 44mm and thereafter the Carrera Elegant Chronograph 42mm it signalled a new era for the brand. While I always admired the Carrera models of old, appreciating their legendary readability, today’s versions of the Carrera encompass a myriad of delightful tiny details. All of these details coalesce beautifully, enriching the wearer experience.
The watch company’s design team have clearly expended much energy appraising every square millimetre of the Carrera, distilling each component to a superb standard. These new models are very impressive and I suspect they will retain their allure for years to come.
However, the new TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph is probably my favourite version of the motorsport-themed model to date, perhaps because it evokes memories of my own 911 moments. The grey asphalt dial looks stunning, the double-digit indexes are attractive and the Porsche-branded bezel is yet another highlight. But, as most 911 owners will attest, a magnificent engine is key to performance. Rest assured, the Calibre Heuer 02 is a championship winner. This latest watch is worthy of bearing the names of two illustrious brands and hopefully provides a foretaste of what’s to come.
- Model: TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition 44mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic
- References: CBN2A1F.FC6492 (calf leather strap), CBN2A1F.BA0643 (H-shape bracelet)
Case: Stainless steel; diameter 44 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: Steel H-shaped bracelet or embossed calf leather strap