Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_22

Hands on Review- TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm Ceramic Bezel

There’s nothing quite like the pressure of replacing a highly successful watch. Sure, you can experiment with niche models and Limited Editions, where the cost of getting it wrong is minor and the financial fall-out quickly forgotten. But make a wrong move with a volume seller and it can be a “New Coke” case study all over again.

And so that makes the new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Chronograph 43mm Ceramic a critical watch, because it replaces the Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16- still the best-selling TAG Heuer model around the globe.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_21


The reason that we have a new model is that supply of the Calibre 16 movement (typically sourced from ETA) has reduced significantly over the last 12 months, fortunately just as production of TAG Heuer’s own Calibre 1887 has stepped up. In addition to upgrading the new movement, TAG Heuer took the opportunity to fine tune the Day-Date range with a series of detailed upgrades, the most prominent being a new ceramic bezel.

Are these changes enough to distinguish the new model from the old and keep the 43mm Carrera at the top of the sales tree?

History: Calibre 16 Day -Date

Carrera Day DateThe CVA2A10/11/12 models (Black, White and Brown dial respectively) Day-Date models were introduced as a premium, larger Carrera in 2008. In addition to featuring a 43mm case, the Day-Date Carrera borrowed several of the signature design touches of the Carrera Calibre 360 (below), including the silver double-digit minuterie, inner bezel design and double-crown.

White Gold Carrera 360We reviewed the Day-Date Carrera in late 2011, and while we liked the watch, we did note its busy dial and thick case. You can read the review here– including some thoughts from both Mark Moss and I on what we would have changed for the next model. We even got a couple right.

Carrera Day DateTAG Heuer now offer two 43mm 2013 Carrera models with the Calibre 1887- the Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm (below left) and the Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm Ceramic Bezel (below right). The closeness of the two model names is sure to cause some confusion, even if the two watches are very different in execution.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887Design

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_16At first glance, the differences between the old and new model (see the comparison below) are minimal. Indeed, apart from the omission of the “day” feature from the calendar at 3 o’clock, we may well be looking at the same watch.

Calibre 16 vs. Calibre 1887Look a little deeper and there are several more detailed upgrades, which we’ll take your through below.

Dial

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_22There are two dial colours available- Black and Anthracite, the latter replacing the Brown and White dial options.

The removal of the Day function allows the TAG Heuer shield to move alongside the date window, while the “100 meters” script that used to sit under the Calibre 16 text has been deleted. While these changes do simplify the dial, I would have gone further and deleted the words “Chronograph” and “Automatic” from the 9 o’clock register.

And while we’re talking about dials, a special mention of the starburst Anthracite dial- it’s brilliant. The colour of the dial works perfectly with the bright red highlights and white finishing.

The hands are carried over from the previous model, with the three Chronograph hands featuring bright Red detailing.

Case

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_03Same case right? Not quite. The new case is marginally thinner than the previous model, a difference that is off-set by a thicker bezel, resulting in an overall depth that is practically the same.

Also new is the alternating brushed and polished finishes (the side of the case being brushed), in contrast to the Day-Date which had a polished finish across the entire case and bezel.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_33

Bezel & Bracelet

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_04One of the most significant changes to the new model is the upgrade to a ceramic bezel, a continuing trend across much of the TAG Heuer range. As we’ve detailed before, ceramic has the benefit of being more scratch-resistant than aluminium/ steel, as well as boasting a “glassy” finish. It’s a small change, but one that does make a difference when compared to the old model side-by-side.

The new bracelet (borrowed from the Grand Carrera) is a winner. There is nothing wrong with the 5-brick Carrera bracelet used on most Carrera models, but it’s nice to see something different. It’s a chunkier bracelet than the former model, something that complements the “oversize” feeling of the 43mm Carrera very well.

Movement

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_19No surprises on the movement front- the Calibre 16 (ETA 7750/ Sellita SW-500) is replaced with the Calibre 1887, a more modern, TAG Heuer-made movement that happens to have the same dial layout (12-6-9) as the ubiquitous 7750.

The workings of the 1887 are on display via the sapphire case back, as is the extensive Cotes de Geneve finishing.

CAR2A10- Black Dial

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_18The Black dial model is the most similar to the former Day-Date and still looks good, especially on the Alligator strap as shown in this example.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_15

CAR2A11- Anthracite Dial

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_32But the pick of the range is the Anthracite dial, which has the wonderful quality of changing colour depending on the angle of the watch and the direction of the light.

It’s a colour combination that we’ve seen before on the Carrera range- the 2009 Limited Edition Lewis Hamilton Carrera 41mm tachymetre (CV201M- 2,500 examples) below. The Hamilton Carrera was launched to mark Lewis’ 2008 World Championship win.

Lewis Hamilton CarreraThe Anthracite dial is also available on a Grey leather strap, but our view hasn’t changed: Grey leather doesn’t work well, not a problem given how good the watch looks on the stainless steel bracelet.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_28

CAR2A80- Carrera Racing Titanium

TAG Heuer CARRERA CALIBRE 1887_RACING CHRONOGRAPH_43MM_CAR2A80.FC6237_2The third model in the new 43mm ceramic range is the Carrera Racing model, which features a titanium carbide coating on a Titanium Grade 2 case. We didn’t get a chance to see this model in the flesh, but it’s clearly the most overtly sporting model in the range, borrowing its style from the Grand Carrera RS2 (below).

tag_heuer_grand_carrera1The Black-on-black model features Black Gold arabic numerals and hands. At the rear, the Sapphire case back boats a smoked finish to add to the stealth-look.

TAG Heuer CARRERA CALIBRE 1887_RACING CHRONOGRAPH_43MM_CAR2A80.FC6237

On the Wrist

Enough of the background- how does the new Ceramic bezel Carrera look on the wrist? In short, very similar to the Day-Date model, which means that it looks good.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_09The only issue for me remains size- both diameter and depth. I still feel that 41mm is the optimal size for a Chronograph, but that is very much a personal view and one that depends on the size of your wrist.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_08Likewise, the watch case is thicker than I like- however, criticising this watch for being too large is like complaining that water is too wet- if you want a smaller Carrera, then there are plenty of options to choose from. People who buy this model actively seek out its larger size.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_05The Anthracite dial looks great on the bracelet. While the bezel appears Grey in these photos, it is in fact Black. What you see is simply the “glassy” finish I mentioned earlier that reflects the light.

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_02

Summary

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_30With the exception of buyers desperate to know which day it is, it’s hard to see how anyone who liked the Day-Date Calibre 16 won’t be drawn to the new ceramic bezel model.

The new movement is a step forward, as is the bezel, and combined with the choice of the brilliant new Anthracite dial, it’s reasonable to expect that the new Carrera will remain just as popular as the watch it replaces.

Personally, I would have made more changes to the design in order to make the new model instantly identifiable from the old. Then again, while I may have preferred a 41mm case with a cleaner dial, there is always the risk that many buyers wouldn’t.

Price & Availability

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_14Expect to see the 2013 TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm Ceramic in the stores by June, perhaps a little later for the Titanium Carrera Racing.

Australian retail pricing for the Carrera is around the A$5,500 mark, but check with your local TAG Heuer dealer for pricing in your country. Expect to pay a premium for the Titanium model.

Interestingly, we understand that the Carrera Day-Date will continue to be sold alongside the new model, at least for a while. That will give potential buyers the perfect chance to compare the two watches side-by-side and see the differences for yourself.

Want to find out more about the history of the TAG Heuer Carrera? Check out the dedicated Calibre 11 Carrera mini-site to see all ten generations of the Carrera from 1963-2013.

To see more photos, click here for the gallery.

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Photos

Lewis Hamilton Carrera: Ace Jewelers

  • Nishant

    Hey I wanted to know if the new metal bracelet will fit on the old day-date's? For some people who love the new bracelet but still love the old design?

  • Nishant Tripathi

    Amazing review, very very detailed. However I had one question. Will the new Grand Carrera like bracelet fit on the older Day-Date watches? For people who love the old design but also love the new bracelets.

  • Nishant Tripathi

    Sorry for the double comments. They showed up both at once!

  • Thanks Nishant.

    It will certainly fit the lugs. The question would be whether TAG has changed the placement of the springbar holes inside the lugs. Given that the case has changed dimensions, this is possible.

    Best to double check before picking up the new bracelet- should be easy to find out from a TAG Heuer AD.

    dc

  • Craig Hawley

    A great review, but the watch is a little disappointing. The valjoux/ETA 7750 is a proven work horse, but TAG don't have a say if swatch decide not to sell their movements to other brands anymore. The cal 1887 is a seiko movement I believe without a huge track record as seiko shelved it if I'm correct.

    That is a little besides the point for most people, but you have lost the day on the watch. The ceramic bezel will no doubt be nice, but is it really going to make a huge difference with such a thin bezel anyway? I'm not so sure.

    It's a nice watch, but they didn't really change much. It was almost like "let's cram our movement in there and stick on a ceramic bezel and jobs a good'un."

  • DM

    I'm liking TAGHeuer's continuing spread of the use of sunburst dials as that sort of (part) hand-finishing is what sets apart a "normal" watch from something a little more special.

    I mean, how gorgeous are the gold/rose gold case models with their sunburst dials and how good does the blue 1887 look?

    I'm also finding the use of different surfaces on the Carrera a nice touch. I like the idea of brushed sides as I find the all polished case of the Carrera a real magnet for scratches, or at least, it shows up scratches so much and getting rid of hairlines are so much harder.

    Is it me or does that dial printing also look cleaner than you see on the older 1887 Carrera watches?

  • Its certainly cleaner that what I remember seeing on the prototype 1887 Carreras that were shown at Basel 2010.

    Yes, the sunburst dials are a welcome return- not sure if you read this article from my visit to dial manufacturer Artecad:

    http://www.calibre11.com/a-visit-to-artecad/

    dc

  • DM

    I do recall that article.
    I have to say that it does irritate me a little how so many so-called watch fans, or WIS as they like to be called, will so readily turn their noses up at TAGHeuer for using an out-sourced movement but none of them know how many of the more prestigious brands that they favour have dials made by TAGHeuer owned Artecad.

  • Everett Bethel

    So what's the retail price for us folks here in the U.S.? I was looking to purchase the day-date model but seeing this one here with the 1887 has me going crazy…

  • Rick

    Hi,

    Thanks for the review. I brought myself the day date thanks to a great deal offered to me by the sales assistant. I do love it but I didn’t have the opportunity to look at Carrera 1887. I love the look and feel of the day date. However I am curious about the 1887 model that has the dial colour that changes will the angle looked at. Perhaps a little buyer remorse. 😉

  • Martian

    Your review led me to getting the Anthracite dial. The dial, because of the color changing effect depending on what angle you view it or the amount of light in the room, makes the watch more dynamic and alive. I'm still getting used to it though since most of my watch have black dials. Overall, I'm impressed even if most people I know preferred the black dial.

  • Hi Martian,

    Pleased that the photos helped- its a great looking dial..very similar to the one on the new Carrera Jack Heuer 81.

    Good choice!

    dc

    • Christian

      I am in the market for carrera. I wonder im your opinion, should i wait for the cal 1969 or the 1887 ? I like the cal 1887 anthracite dial though plus discount price of the holiday.

  • Eugene Smozhevsky

    Have to agree with concerns on caliber. From my small collection of watch this model so far proves to be the least accurate. UN Maxi Marine being the best (UN26 which is UN modified ETA), then Zenith Defy Xtreme power reserve (Zenith’s elite movement), then local watch with some Miyota movement (yes it performs better then 1887!!!) and then this one. It stays within sane limits, but overall looks poor side to side to others:(
    Otherwise it’s a nice watch, BTW.

    • calibre11

      Interesting feedback Euegne…and a little unusual as you don’t hear these reports often. Question is whether your 1887 is keeping poor time because of anything inherent with the 1887 movement, or whether it’s just a case of it being knocked and needing adjustment. TAG tell me that it should perform around COSC standards

      • Eugene Smozhevsky

        “Around COSC standards” is a right wording. These are around 3 minutes a month, 1887 so far did 5:15 in February (did not measure before, but will do more testing in the future). The watch is quiet new (bought it end of December) and no, it was not hit in any way. At least by me. In fact – this is not my everyday watch so I wear it quiet rarely and usually on days when I’m not even relatively active. So may be the watch does not like a winder where it spends most of the time. UN and Zenith though, (which spend quiet some time in there as well) seem to like the winder more than TH. UN’s inaccuracy was only -1:04 (very good result IMO!) while Zenith was around 3 minutes (did not measure up to seconds). Interestingly enough UN gets a little late while TH and Zenith are a bit too fast.

        May be the watch does need to be inspected, but my experience with their customer support was poorest of all so far – had some trouble with my wife’s watch some time ago and ended up fixing the issue elsewhere. In fact, this is my last TH watch for these reasons. Not a superb performance and poor customer service:(

        • calibre11

          Shame to hear that- no, it should keep better time than that I would expect. If we say COSC is -4/ +6 I would hope to get within 1-3 second of that.

          Depends how much it annoys you- if it does, I would have it reglulated

  • EightEyes

    I just received this watch, anthracite on a steel bracelet, and the case is polished, not brushed. The model number is CAR2A11-2, so perhaps this is a recent revision? I like the watch very much, but I think I prefer the brushed look shown in this review than the polished case on the watch I have.

    This is maybe something to be aware of for others ordering this watch based on pictures like I did, without seeing it in person first. Mine was ordered from an AD (Bloomingdale’s), so I am sure it is genuine. Just slightly different.

    On the whole, though, I love the look and feel of this thing. The depth of the dial is remarkable, it keeps great time, the ceramic bezel is beautiful, the bracelet is comfortable, and the red detail that ties together the chronograph pusher with the chronograph hands is a nice touch.

    My only real complaint, other than the surprisingly polished case, is that the lume is poor (not really a priority, though in a watch of this type).

  • Shiva Kumar

    i want to sale used Carrera tag heuer cal 1887 limited edition red bull watch,one one there to buy?

    • Not a genuine watch, so can’t help unfortunately

      • shiva

        ohh i dont aware of it,thank you for info.