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Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 17
Brushing the barriers with a Carrera on your wrist
My son is fourteen years of age. He admires Jenson Button, the quintessential English Formula One driver. Button is both, magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat; a worthy role model for a young man. Jenson has spent recent years behind the wheel of a shimmering silver and red Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, often tasting the sweet smell of success along with the refined flavour of Mumm Champagne.
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I have noticed my son is brand aware. He has noticed the sponsors names which adorn Jenson’s racing suit and he knows which brand of watch he wears, a Tag Heuer.
I am reminded of when I was a young boy, my hero was Nikki Lauda. I recall his blood red Ferrari 312 T, negotiating the arduous track at Monaco in 1975. It presents no small feat to the most accomplished drivers, even in the dry, but this race began under rainy conditions. Lauda won the race and went on to win the World Championship later that year.
I can still vividly remember the yellow Agip decals on the body of the Ferrari and the name, Goodyear, adorning the front wing. But most of all, I remember one word on the front of the cockpit, Heuer. I soon learned this sponsor made watches. My predilection for luxury names was piqued, a trait I have retained to this day.
Yet, the history of Heuer and cars can be traced to the “Time of Trip”, the first aeroplane and automobile dashboard chronograph which was introduced in 1911.
The “Carrera” name, now part of watchmaking lore, came to fruition in 1964. The Carrera Chronograph was named after the Carrera Panamericana Mexico Road Race.
One man who has been at the centre of the Tag Heuer paradigm is Jack Heuer. The grandson of the founder, Edouard Heuer, began work on the Carrera Chronograph back in 1963. It was designed specifically for drivers and motor-racing enthusiasts. The original Carrera launched was manually wound, highly resistant to shocks and had an easy to read dial.
There have been many variants of the Carrera launched since the original model of 1963. They have become sought after by motor-racing fans and watch collecting enthusiasts ever since.
There could be no more fitting tribute to celebrate the 80th birthday of the man whose creativity spawned the Carrera than a limited edition timepiece to commemorate the event. However, is the watch a worthy tribute to the living legend that is, Jack Heuer?
The silver-grey dial is clean and pure. It features a sunray motif which pleasingly plays with the sunlight.
Silver coloured hour and minute hands match the colour of the case. They are highly polished and feature luminous tips, enhancing legibility.
Simple batons indicate the hours, save for noon where double batons feature and 6 o’clock where a date aperture resides. The use of batons rather than numerals confers clarity. Between the hour markings are simple black strokes indicating minutes, with shorter black markings showing 15 second integers.
Two subdials are presented to the wearer at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The former subdial displays subsidiary seconds, whilst the latter is a 30 minute chrono counter. Symmetry is exampled by matching design, size and colour of both subdials and the result is a refined aesthetic.
The subdials are recessed, with bevelled edges drawing the eye from the silver-grey dial to the recessed, dark-grey, snailed subdials. The hands on the subdials are silver coloured and feature red tips. This flourish of colour reinforces the passion of competitive motor racing which all die-hard fans of the sport crave.
Carmine red features once more on the central chronograph seconds hand. It has a lithe character, pointing to the relevant marking on the dial with laser-like accuracy. Ease of interpretation is assured.
A tachymeter scale is presented on a dark-grey flange, it frames the dial and nuzzles the inside of the case.
Below noon, sits the word, “Carrera” presented in bold, black capitals. Beneath this, the famous vintage Heuer logo sits proudly.
The case diameter of 41 mm should provide universal appeal to all would-be wearers of the watch. It is neither overly large, hence suitable for smaller wrists, yet it is large enough to proffer good readability.
All surfaces of the case are highly polished except the centre of the caseback which is satin-brushed. The watch is available on a bracelet which features predominantly satin-brushing with a smattering of polished metal. This combination confers quality and provides balance by using both types of polishing.
I must confess, whilst the bracelet option offers practicality for those of a sporting disposition, I prefer the model on a strap. The perforated leather strap has a delicious retro feel. The punched hole detail reminds me of old driving gloves and the red underside of the strap reinforces the red elements of the dial.
The chrono-pushers remind me of capstans and look beautiful with their distilled design.
The only area where I am a little ambivalent is the caseback. On one hand I normally favour sapphire casebacks and become frustrated when I am starved of the view of the watchmakers craftsmanship. Yet, I must confess I like Jack’s signature engraved on the back and the Heuer family coat of arms which is clearly close to Mr Heuer’s heart. Ideally, I would have preferred a combination of both a window showing the movement and Mr Heuer’s signature and family crest. However, this small criticism and should not unduly detract from the overall, alluring appeal of the watch.
Unlike the original Carrera of 1964, this watch features a self-winding movement. The convenience of the automatic movement will suit the frenetic lives of today’s motor racing professionals.
The Calibre 17 features Côtes de Genève on the rotor. Moreover, it has a 37 jewels, a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and a power reserve of 42 hours.
The watch features COSC certification providing independent reassurance of the rate-keeping prowess.
There has been much discussion in recent years about the reduction in available movements from ETA and the move by some companies to seek alternative options. Some companies have chosen to create their own in-house movements, whereas others have sought the expertise of Soprod, La Joux-Perret, Concepto et al.
Tag Heuer have been linked with Seiko for some componentry and this is no bad thing. Seiko have a profound skill at making watch movements. Yet, Swiss savoir-faire is assured with the words “Swiss Made” adorning the movement. This means by Swiss law that at least 60 percent of the watch is made in the home of horology.
This does not mean Tag Heuer have eschewed innovation, quite the contrary. In recent times they have developed products which have pushed the performance envelope to the extremes. The latest timepiece which has caused a stir in the industry is the Tag Heuer Carrera Mikrotourbillon S, which is the “world’s fastest tourbillon” and truly breathtaking with its cutting-edge know how.
The names “Heuer” and “Carrera” are indelibly etched in my mind. They are historical symbols of motor racing which sit comfortably aside words like “grid”, “slicks”, “podium” or “champion”.
Jack Heuer has bestowed the world with a legacy of emotional, user-friendly and handsome timepieces. I can think of few better tributes than the worthy Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 17, which perfectly honours the 80th birthday of this remarkable racing enthusiast.
I look forward to seeing the on-going evolution of Carrera models from this innovative brand who is certainly causing a stir in watchmaking circles.
- Model: Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 17
- Model reference: CV2119.FC6310 (on strap).
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 41 mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; date; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre 17; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 37 jewels; 42 hours power reserve.
- Strap: Black open worked leather strap with red lining
- Note: Also available on bracelet - CV2199.BA0722
- Limited Edition: 3000 pieces