Comparing the TAG Heuer Carrera Range

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   27 August 2011   |   16 Comments  

It’s hard to imagine today’s TAG Heuer range without the Carrera, the model that was at the heart of the range for more than twenty years, but disappeared in 1985. Making its comeback in 1996- initially as a Limited Edition- the series is now available in more than 40 different models, with case sizes ranging from 39-43mm and an array of quartz and automatic movements.

While this breadth means there is no shortage of choice, it also means that it’s an ongoing challenge to give each of the models its own distinct look and feel.

While Calibre 11 has reviewed the Carrera 1887 and Carrera Heritage- the two key models in the 2011 range- before, this is the first time that we’ve been able to show the two watches side-by-side.

And while TAG Heuer continue to refine the Carrera design to differentiate the various models, one recent change to a long-standing model has created a bit of a stir….even though it’s a change that you’ll never see while the watch is on your wrist.

Carrera Heritage Calibre 16 vs. Carrera Calibre 1887

Above are the Carrera 1887 Chronograph (left) and the Carrera Heritage Calibre 16 Chronograph (right). Even though the layout of the registers is the same and both have a 41mm case, the two models are quite different in character. Starting with the dial, the key differences are:

  • Flat black dial (1887) vs. “Flinque” textured dial (Calibre 16)
  • Hour markers vs. Arabic numerals
  • “3D” vs. flat sub-dial outline

The two models also have different hands and- importantly- Chronograph pushers. I really like the design of the 1887 pushers, which have a much more interesting shape compared to the relatively plain barrel-pushers of the Carrera Heritage.

The changes made from the V2 to V3 Carrera 1887 have helped put more distance between the two designs, as the V2 1887 uses the same target sub-dial at 9 o’clock as the Carrera Heritage.

But while the differences between the two dials are pretty obvious, even at a glance, the same can’t be said for the differences in the outer-bezels.

The two Chronographs use an identical case, but have different outer-bezels.Below you see the Carrera Heritage on the left and the 1887 on the right. The flat section of the 1887 bezel (the part parallel to the crystal) is about half the width of the same part on the Heritage bezel, giving it a thinner look. This also means that the rounded part of the bezel on the 1887 has a sharper angle heading down to meet the case.

The impact of this is that The dial on the 1887 looks larger, as it seems to extent to the edge of the case. OK, we’re talking about a difference of mere millimeters, but when you only have 41mm in total to play with, a small change can make a difference visually.

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