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Hands on Review- TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm

Perhaps the least interesting aspect of the new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm is the most obvious: yes, the watch is 2mm larger in diameter than the standard (41mm) Carrera 1887 that we’ve come to know and love, but the new “plus-size” model is far more than just a larger version of what’s come before.

TAG Heuer has taken the opportunity to create a distinctly new member of the Carrera family that combines the larger case with an open, elegant design that brings together elements of the 41mm Carrera 1887 (Version 2) and the Carrera Heritage series.

While the majority of the Carrera range emphasises the sporting credentials of the series, the new Carrera 43mm is firmly tilted towards the luxury/ elegance part of the market. Tachymeter? No. Rose Gold detailing? Plenty.

We’ve shown you the official photos of the 43mm Carrera 1887 back in March, and can now bring you the first review based on these pre-production watches.

Design

The 43mm Carrera has a clean, simple design that brings together the elements from other Carrera models. Regular readers will recall that the Carrera 1887 on sale today is actually the third version of the watch, with the second version (“V2”) being the first commercial version of  the Carrera 1887 that was available in selected markets for a few months.

As you see above, the V2 Carrera 1887 41mm has no tachy scale/ bezel and a flat 9 o’clock sub-dial that blended in with the rest of the dial.The V3 Carrera 1887 41mm on sale today (below) added a metal frame to the 12 and 6 o’clock registers, a recessed 9 o’clock sub-dial and a tachy scale to the inner bezel.

So think of the Carrera 43mm 1887 as having the same “stripped back” dial as the V2 Carrera but with added lashings of Rose Gold- as you can see below. In addition to the Rose Gold coloured numerals, the watch hands and the running seconds hand are also Rose Gold (plated) on the Silver dial model, while all the sub-dial hands are Rose Gold on the Black dial model.

The final element of the new design is the use of Arabic numerals to mark out the hours rather than the usual markers. TAG Heuer introduced this design with the 2011 Carrera Heritage series, although as you can see from the photo below (Carrera Heritage Calibre 16 Chronograph), the font has changed and the numerals are printed rather than applied, but the thinking behind the look is the same.

The use of the large Arabic numerals is both a design flourish and a necessity. Given the diameter of the Calibre 1887 movement, the position of the registers is fixed, meaning that without the larger numerals, the dial may have appeared too “empty”. The prominent Gold numbers draws your eye outwards and gives the dial a nice visual balance.

Given that I rate the V2  as the most attractive of the 41mm Carrera 1887s, it’s great to see the “old” design brought back. The Rose Gold detailing is a nice change from the usual Carrera look, and it does achieve the goal of creating a watch that is more luxury than it is sports. The end result is a very classy Chronograph, albeit one that does look very similar to the IWC Portuguese one of the best looking luxury Chronographs on the market.

Silver Dial- CAR2012

Opening the range is the Silver (well, it’s officially “Silver”, but most people would call it “White”) dial 1887 that is available with either a Black or Tan strap. The watch you see here actually has a Tan strap, with the new Tan colour used by TAG Heuer being a few shades darker than previously used.

The Silver dial is my favourite of the new range because the colours all work well together- Silver steel case, “White” dial, Rose Gold detailing and a rich Tan strap.

Given the light background the Rose Gold doesn’t stand out too much and is a nice detail that you notice rather than being overtly flashy.

Black Dial- CAR2014

The second dial option for the 43mm Carrera is a Black dial, shown here with a Black Alligator strap. While the Rose Gold works in a low-key way with the Silver dial, it really pops on the Black dial. And if you think that it looks “more Gold” than the other models, then you’d be right- all the hands on the Back dial model are Rose Gold, rather than the Rose Gold/ Black combination of the other dial colours.

I’d like to see the Black dial offered with a Chocolate-brown strap as a second option, although most will opt for the Black-on-Black combination.

 Anthracite Dial- CAR2013

As regular readers will know, Anthracite seems to be the colour for 2012. We reviewed the Carrera Rose Gold Anthracite last week and came to the conclusion that Rose Gold and Anthracite was not our preferred colour combination.

And despite having a stainless steel case, nothing has changed here- the dial itself is beautifully finished with a sun-burst effect, but I feel it would work better with Silver highlights on a Steel bracelet.

Movement- Calibre 1887

The 43mm Carrera uses TAG Heuer’s Calibre 1887 movement, which is made in-house by TAG Heuer. Key components of the Calibre 1887 are made by TAG’s wholly owned subsidiary Cortech in Cornol (Switzerland), before being sent across to TAG Heuer HQ at La Chaux de Fonds where the various parts are assembled by hand.

As a reminder, the Calibre 1887 is a Chronograph movement with three registers laid out in a “12-6-9” format. The registers have the following functions:

  • 12 o’clock register: Chronograph minutes (30 mins)
  • 6 o’clock register: Chronograph hours (12 hours)
  • 9 o’clock: Running seconds (time)

On the Wrist

The common consensus seems to be that the trend towards larger-diameter watches seems to have peaked, and if anything the 2012 designs from most brands have started to come down in size. The 43mm Carrera is one of the larger Chronographs offered by TAG Heuer and certainly has a strong presence on the wrist.

Despite the size, I didn’t find the 43mm 1887 to be too large- in fact, the watch didn’t feel as large as other “XL” Carreras, such as the Day-Date Calibre 16.

Changing between the 41mm and 43mm models, I have to say that if anything the 41mm felt small having worn the larger model, rather than the 43mm feeling too large. Still, as always it’s something that will come down to personal preference, and it’s certainly worth heading down to a TAG Heuer AD to try both if you are considering either size.

Price & Availability- TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 43mm

The TAG Heuer 43mm Carrera 1887 in both Silver and Black has already arrived in some markets and will be available in remaining countries over the next few weeks.

The Anthracite model is not due until later this year (September/ October) and will only be available from TAG Heuer boutiques, making it a more niche combination than the other two dial colours.

The price of the watch in Switzerland is expected to be CHF5,500, about a 1,000 Franc (just over USD1000) premium over the 41mm model.

In Summary

The 43mm Carrera 1887 is a an important addition to the Carrera range and one the bridges the gap between the Carrera sports line and the more premium Grand Carrera series. Yes, the case, pushers and overall design are very similar to the 41mm Carrera 1887, but I feel that the changes made create a distinctive model and one that you can instantly differentiate from its smaller brother.

As well as being distinctive, it’s a great looking watch. Yes, it has similarities with the Portuguese, but it’s still a Carrera. A Silver dial on the Tan strap would certainly be my choice- one classy Chronograph. It joins the Jack Heuer 80th Birthday Carrera and the Rose Gold/ Silver dial Carrera 1887 as my favourites of the current TAG Heuer Carrera range.

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.

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  • DrDJRL

    I've never been a fan of numbers on the dial – I much prefer simple, hour markers.

  • Warren Snook

    The 1887 movement is far too small for this oversized watch. TAG should have used a solid caseback instead. I would be quite embarrassed to own this watch unfortunately.

  • Sunil Jajoria

    Love two have or by this , when they are selling in India let me know ? Looking forward for this watch ! Loving it

  • wynonie

    Great review DC. The watches are a bit disappointing as far as I am concerned though. I was hoping for the second iteration of the 1887 to develop the line, but maintain the Carrera DNA which, for me, these do not do.

    As with the 'heritage' line of Carreras, I think they suffer for being far removed from the sports chronograph features that have been ever-present in most (quartz aside – sorry Mark) Carreras over the years. As I mentioned in the post on the heritage line, I find this style to be something of an anomaly – there is noting in the Carrera heritage remotely like these watches!

    The use of gold I fing a bit garish, but I'm sure others will like it.

    Overall, I do enjoy the TH push towards the luxury end, I think that most of their watches have benefitted, but these look far too bling for me.

  • DC

    Thanks for the comments gents. I'm a little surprised that the reaction to the watch has been luke-warm…I went back over the photos to see if I'd missed something, but I still like it! Wynonie, I agree with you about the bling factor, which I don't like. I think that's why the Rose Gold/ White combination works well for me…its not immediately noticeable that the detailing is Gold…whereas Black/ Gold is obvious.

    There is no doubt that this is a move away from the traditional Carrera- but I prefer this design to the Carrera Heritage…and I like that its a different look.

    Warren, agree that it would better to have a larger movement, but we're talking about moving the 9 o'clock sub-dial by maybe 1-2mm..I'd have no issue with the caseback either. OK, if they went to 45mm it would look out of place..

    dc

  • Benson

    Also rather taken aback by the luke warm responses. But no matter as personally I think this addition brings a much needed 'classically refined' feel to the carrera range. The case sizing is good and sits rather light on the wrist, as compared to the GC calibre 17RS… Agree that the rose gold/white on the brown strap being the winner albeit this spec not photographing as well as the black dial.
    A great read, thank you.

  • DC

    Hi Benson- sounds like you've tried one of these on? Maybe its one of those watches that you need to see in person (although I still like the photos…)

    David

  • Benson

    Agreed DC, this does appear to be a timepiece that one needs to see in person. Picked mine up about 2 weeks back, white dial/tan strap (ordered in April, shortly after reading your first review actually). The photos' for me were great, always are, so keep em coming!

  • Michael Wyles

    Hi

    I think the best picture is the very first one but the strap looks blue? Is that a different strap or is it the tan one just with lighting making it look blue?

    I'm looking to join the Tag Heuer family! Considering buying the Calibre 12 Monaco, F1 ceramic and possibly this 1887 43mm silver/rose gold with tan strap. What do owners think of this 1887?

    Thanks

    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      Its a new strap colour- but certainly a dark brown…as you say, its the way that the light reflects in that first photo that make it look a little blue.

      Not sure how many people have these yet- they're being launched tomorrow in Australia for example.

      Some nice options that you're looking at- good luck!

      David

  • Michael Wyles

    Thanks David – very helpful! I saw Jenson Button wearing this watch with the darker colour strap but not seen it in the flesh yet. I have seen some bad ccomments about this watch but I quite like the look of it as would like a cleaner more traditional look to go aongside the Monaco and F1 ceramic.

    Thanks again

    Michael

  • Michael Wyles

    Hi David

    Do you have the model number for the Carrera with tan strap?

    Thanks

    michael

  • Michael Wyles

    Hi David

    Off topic of this watch but in relation my post about which Tgs I'm looking at buying. With regards the cermamic F1 mens is ceramic harder or easier to scratch the normal stainless steel bracelets? I have ead different things!

    Also when buying I want to buy knowing no one else has tried them on or been on display. My AD said they can do special orders from Tag but can't give me paper work to confirm this. Wat should I look for in order to know they are brand new and not display models. I know I'm being fussy!!

    Thanks

    Michael

  • Hi Michael:

    – Yes, model number is CAR2012.fc6236

    – Ceramic has superior scratch-resistance, being approx. four-times harder than steel and about 25% lighter than steel

    – Not sure on the last point…very hard to "certify" that not a single person has tried one on before…understand what you want, but I don't see how they can do anything other than try their best to give you one straight from the box.

    Cheers

    David

  • Michael Wyles

    Thanks David, very helpful!

    I just need to try an decide between the 41mm 1887 and th 43mm 1887 with tan strap! Hard decision! Which would you go for? I think the 43mm with numerals is more classical (rather than the 41 which appear a bit more spoty), and will compliment my more sporty Monaco and F1. Some commnets on here do seem quite negative though although lots of good comments saying how classy it looks on Facebook!

    Thanks again

    Michael

  • Hi Michael,

    Agree with you that its the trade off between sporty/ classical. I do think the 43mm is worth seeing in person, ad it does look great.

    Personally,,,well, I'd probably go for the 41mm 1887. White dial/ tan strap would be my choice. Ask me again tomorrow and the answer may be different…

    dc

  • michael wyles

    Hi David

    Do you have the model number for the 41mm white dial tan strap that you would probably go for.

    Thanks

    Michael

  • Mike

    Hi,

    Do you know if all the models are available in the US?

    I'm looking for a CAR2014.FC6235 (Black leather and black dial).

    Reason I ask is because here in Canada, it still isn't available, and they bring them from New Jersey apparently. I already ordered one and its been 2 months.

    • Not sure Mike. I'll send you the address of an AD who may be able to help

      David

  • Michael

    Hi David

    At long last I saw the 43mm silver dial in my AD here in the UK. It does look so good in the flesh! However before I make a decision I want to have a look at the 41mm with tan strap that you said is probably the best!. Do you have the model number?

    Thanks

    Michael

  • Audie Garcia

    Hi David

    Just discovered your blog and your review made me decide to try the 41mm and the 43mm in white dial/ tan strap and also the black one, all available here in Manila. I decided to get the 43mm/white dial as a 50th birthday gift for myself.

    Thanks.

    Audie

  • Audie Garcia

    The tan one and i'm getting compliments for it.

    Thanks again.

    Audie

  • Michael

    Hi Audie. I'm trying to decide between the 41mm tan and 43mm white dial with tan strap. I have not been able to see the 41mm in the flesh. What made you decide n the 43?

    Thanks

    Michael

  • John

    Anybody here tried buying from authentic watch.com ? Any experience good or bad

    Thanks
    John

  • Jel

    Bought the 43mm 1887 Silver case, cream face, rose gold hands, chocolate strap as a treat for my 50th and it is beautiful. It sits great, looks great and it’s ageless look means that it is fashionable enough for my 22 year old Son to borrow.
    As silly as it sounds, my only gripe is that the strap squeaks and for £3.650.00, i don’t think it should.