TAG Heuer have made a second round of changes to the Carrera Calibre 1887. The model has been available in some markets for the last few months, but ahead of the launch rolling out globally, further detailed updates have been made to the design of the watch. The changes only impact the dial- the case, pushers, hands and movement are unchanged.
The Carrera 1887 prototype was first displayed in March at the Basel show and was followed by an updated version in May (a change some foolish observers called the “Final Design”). And now, we have Carrera 1887 Version 3.0…or maybe its 1.3, because the changes are subtle. This new version of the Carrera 1887 will be announced at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève towards the end of October.
So, let’s go through the evolution of the Carrera 1887 design- from Left to right, Version 1 (Prototype March 2010), Version 2 (Production May 2010) and Version 3 (Production, October 2010)
So what has changed?
Version 1 has the prominent tachy scale on the outer bezel, a feature deleted from the bezel of later versions. Versions 2 and 3 seem to share the same external bezel, which is more peaked than the flat bezel of Version 1.
The inner-bezel on versions 1 and 2 is identical, showing minute markers and 15-second increments. Version 3 moves these markers to the dial itself, while the Tachy scale now sits on the inner-bezel.
Some of the Version 1 prototypes shown at Basel had a flat surface inside the sub-dials at 12 and 6 o’clock, while Version 2 brought in a circular, radial pattern reminiscent of the Carrera’s of the 1970s, which stays for Version 3. On Versions 1 and 2 there was a painted silver ring around the outside of the sub-dial, but for the third version this has been replaced with an angled insert to give a more 3-dimensional look (see below).
The 9 o’clock sub-dial has also been changed in this third version. The first two versions had no dial outline, simply a seconds hand that blended into the rest of the dial. Now there a faint circle is used to seperate the sub-dial from the rest of the dial.
The black text on Versions 1 and 2 looks to have been replaced with raised silver text on this third version, helping the dial to look less flat and giving it an “applied” look.
Better or just Different?
To me, every change from Version 1 to Version 2 was an improvement- they gave the watch a more minimalist look and put the focus on the clean, large dial rather than being distracted by the Tachy bezel.
From version 2 to 3? I’m not so sure. Certainly the 3-D sub-dial rings lift the dial and no complaints about the raised, silver text used for the TAG Heuer logo and “Carrera”. I am on the fence about the use of the inner tachy bezel, if only because adding the bezel has meant that some of the minimalist look has been lost. This layout is now the same as the 300 SLR that I was able to review last week.
The only change that I don’t like is the change to the 9 o’clock sub-dial. The original design paid homage to the Calibre 15 Heuers of the 1970s, such as the Monaco 1533G below:
The decision to change the design appears to have come from within TAG Heuer, rather than being in response to any feedback from customers or dealers. I was fortunate enough to interview TAG Heuer designer Christoph Behling yesterday (full interview coming soon), who emphasised how important the Carrera Calibre 1887 was to showcase the new Calibre 1887 movement and that endless hours had gone into fine-tuning the final details of the watch.
I also suspect that the success of the 300 SLR also played a part. While the Carrera 1887 should have been the star at Basel, it seemed to me that everyone was talking about the 300 SLR. So now, the Carrera looks more like the 300 SLR, having adopted several of its design touches.
Interestingly, the merits of the changes from Version 1 and 2 were debated here and you can see that the loss of the tachy scale was not appreciated by some, nor was the lack of a dial to seperate the 9 o’clock sub-dial from the rest of the dial.
So who gets the new design?
Customers in some Asian markets already have the Carrera 1887 (Version 2) and other markets, such as Australia, are due to get the watch in the next few weeks. I’d expect that markets about to get their first delivery will get Version 2, with Version 3 to follow at some stage next year. I’d also expect that the US market- due to get the watch in Q1 2011 will get Version 3, but that is my guess and not being anything official from TAG Heuer.
The good news is that if you prefer Version 2, (below left) you should be able pick one up given that its been on sale for a while.
It does feel like a long time has passed since we first saw the Carrera 1887, but I guess that- like with prototypes of new cars- we have to wait until the design is ironed out and made production ready. I haven’t heard that these changes will impact either the price or the timing of availability of the Carrera- let’s hope not, because I know a lot of people who love this watch just want to wear one rather than just looking at more photos.
Update: 23 January 2011
Read this exclusive interview with TAG Heuer’s CEO explaining why the design changed and see the latest photos of Version 3 of the Carrera 1887
TAG Heuer/ Calibre 11