A few years ago, TAG Heuer introduced a new version of its racing-inspired Carrera watch with a brand-new movement. WatchTime took the watch, the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887, for a spin. Click here for the results of our comprehensive watch test, originally published in our print edition, along with exclusive photos by Nik Schölzel.
TAG Heuer celebrated the 50th birthday of its most important watch model, the TAG Heuer Carrera chronograph, in 2013. The watch is the brainchild of Jack W. Heuer, then managing director at Heuer (which became TAG Heuer after it changed hands in 1985), designed a simple dial and then used the tension ring that presses the Plexiglas against the case from the inside as a design element by printing on it the graduations for the chronograph. (Click here for our 2013 interview with Jack Heuer to learn more about the creation of the Carrera from the man himself.)
Thus, a classic watch with excellent legibility was born. Heuer, a fan of automobile racing, named the watch after the Carrera Panamericana, or “Pan Am,” Of the 1950s. The Pan Am was a challenging road race through Mexico over 3,000 kilometers of the newly finished Mexican section of the Pan American Highway. Porsche’s Carrera cars are also named for this race. (For more on the Carrera Panamericana race and how it and other 1960s modernist ideas influenced the design of the original Carrera, click here.)
(Click on watch photos for larger images.)
The Carrera watch was initially equipped with the manually wound Venus Caliber 72 but was later replaced by the now-famous Caliber 11, developed by Heuer in 1969, in collaboration with Breitling, Büren and Dubois Dépraz, as one of the first automatic chronograph movements. In the 1970s, the design of the Carrera underwent a series of changes until the quartz crisis caused the model to fall by the wayside.
Since its re-introduction in 1996, the Carrera has become TAG Heuer’s most successful model. The first watches were very similar to the original, but in 2004 their design was updated with a wide, black tachymeter track. In 2008, a new line extension, called Grand Carrera, was added.
The TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 is a return to a simpler form. Its designers omitted the tachymeter track and graduation markers on the dial and placed them instead, like its predecessor’s, on the inner flange. Otherwise, the hands, markers and understated ripple pattern on the chronograph counters recall the original. The silver rings for the minute and hour counters, first seen on the black-dialed 2002 model, have become a characteristic feature of the Carrera. One change: the date is now placed within the hour counter at 6 o’clock. The design is not as distinctive as one would like for a watch of this status; it probably won’t turn heads from far away. The small-seconds subdial at 9 o’clock has four cross-hair markers with the horizontal lines replaced by the words “Cal. 1887.”