Tracing its origins to 1963, TAG Heuer’s Carrera, a motorsport-inspired timepiece named for a treacherous road race, has become of the world’s most iconic and influential example of the modern chronograph wristwatch. In the early 21st Century, however, the Swiss watchmaker began dabbling in reductivist versions of the Carrera’s famous tricompax display to create a simpler, time-only version sans stopwatch. After adding models gradually and somewhat quietly over the intervening years, TAG Heuer revisits the Carrera Three Hands series in a big way this year, launching 13 new references across four sub-families, all updated for a contemporary audience.
The refreshed Carrera Three Hands collection consists of four variations, distinguished by case sizes and complications: the Carrera Day-Date 41 mm, Carrera Twin Time 41 mm, Carrera Date 39 mm and Carrera Date 29 mm. Like the original Carrera chronographs, which themselves received a major revamp in 2020, the Carrera Three Hands models draw inspiration from dashboard clocks developed by Heuer (predecessor to TAG Heuer) for cars since the 1930s. They also bear the stylistic imprint of the Caliber 02 chronograph pieces introduced last year. All the watches are in stainless steel cases, all but one of them on steel bracelets with new H-shaped links that have been redesigned with ergonomic comfort in mind.
To start with the largest and most complicated watch, the Carrera Twin Time 41 mm has a blue sunray-brushed dial, with bold, rhodium-plated hands and applied indices with Super-LumiNova. Mounted on the new H-shaped steel bracelet, it is the only model in the new series equipped with a GMT function. This useful complication, which is paired with a date window at 6 o’clock, is displayed on the dial with a red-tipped central hand and a 24-hour scale on a new, bicolor silver-and-blue flange to indicate daylight and nighttime hours. The watch contains TAG Heuer’s automatic, ETA-based Caliber 7, with 21 jewels and a 46-hour power reserve. It’s priced at $3,200.
Also housed in a 41-mm polished steel case is the Carrera Day Date, which encompasses four references in the new collection, including the only model mounted on a brown leather strap; the other three all are attached to the new H-shape-link bracelet. Two models, both on bracelets, have black sunray snailed dials, one with rhodium-plated hands and indices, the other with gold-plated hands and indices. The other bracelet-mounted piece combines the rhodium-plated hands and indices with a blue sunray dial, while the leather strap model goes for a more monochromatic face, with rhodium-plated hands and markers on a silver sunburst dial. As their name implies, all four feature the day and date in double windows at 3 o’clock. The movement inside, visible behind a sapphire exhibition caseback, is the TAG Heuer Caliber 5, with a 28,800-vph frequency, a rapid date-correction function, and a power reserve of 38 hours. Prices on the Day Date 41 mm range from $2,900 to $3,100.
Also outfitted with Caliber 5, but sans weekday display to accommodate the smaller case, is the Carrera Date 39 mm, in four references whose dial colors echo those of the 41-mm Day-Dates: two in black, with either rhodium-plated or gold-plated hands and markers, one blue sunburst with rhodium handset and indices; and one silvered, also with rhodium-plated details, but presented here not on a leather strap but the same H-shaped link bracelet as the other three. The date display on these models is at 6 o’clock rather than 3 o’clock. The Carrera Date 39 mm models range in price from $2,700 to $2,900.
Rounding out the collection, and aimed at women, is the Carrera Date 29 mm, a quartet of models on bracelets that feature refined lugs on their 29-mm cases and bolder hands and indices on the dials, along with a 6 o’clock date window. The dials are either in sunray blue or white mother-of-pearl, with rhodium-plated, faceted hands. Both dial colorways offer a choice of either rhodium-plated applied indices or, in a more luxurious vein, 11 diamond indices, one for each hour position except for the date window at 6 o’clock. The watch contains the TAG Heuer Caliber 9, a Swiss-made, Sellita-based automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve. Its haute horologerie details, including a gold openworked rotor, are revealed beneath a clear sapphire caseback. Prices are $3,300 with diamonds and $2,300 without.
TAG Heuer is putting some star power into the launch of the 2021 Carrera Three Hands, simultaneously announcing Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling as the watchmaker’s newest brand ambassador. Gosling’s performance in the 2011 movie Drive has drawn comparisons to the late Steve McQueen, another actor indelibly associated with TAG Heuer and its history in motorsports. Like McQueen, he is a racing enthusiast with an appreciation for timepieces; of the Carrera Three Hands, he says, “I appreciate its timeless design. I like clean and simple design generally. Growing up we lived on a pretty tight budget. I gravitated toward things that were simple and timeless so I didn’t have to think about keeping up with trends.”
The TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hands collection is available at retail now.