Hands on Review- TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre S

Posted by: C11   |   26 August 2012   |   17 Comments  

Considering that TAG Heuer had not designed or made its own mainstream movement since the early 1980s, the simultaneous announcement of the Calibre 360 and Calibre S movements at Baselworld 2005 was a landmark event for the company. Both movements were ambitious and complex- one, the world’s first 1/ 100th second mechanical chronograph (Calibre 360) and the other an electro-mechanical chronograph that set out to redefine the readability of complications- the Calibre S. While the Calibre 360 was offered only in a limited edition Carrera, the Calibre S has been extensively used across the TAG Heuer’s range as the brand’s flagship quartz movement.

Despite seven years having passed since its launch, the Calibre S remains somewhat of a mystery today; a movement that is neither fish nor fowl.

For this review, we’ll look at one of the watches powered by the hybrid movement- the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre S. While today’s Carrera range has more than a dozen distinct models using six mechanical movements, this model is the only quartz Carrera you can buy.


The Carrera Calibre S shares much of its design with the Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16- with both watches being housed in an over-sized 43mm stainless steel case. Other shared features include  the large “double-crown”, red-ringed top chronograph pusher and the red-tip central chronograph hand.

Where the two watches diverge is the depth of the case. As you see below, the quartz movement in the Calibre S Carrera (below right) allows for a slimmer- and lighter- case than its mechanical cousin.

While the Carrera Calibre S case is not unique in the Carrera range, the dial is. The signature elements of watches using the Calibre S movement are the two semi-circular, 160 degree sub-dials at 4.30 and 7.30, which replace the traditional circular registers. Since 2005 the Calibre S has been available in the SLR, Formula 1, Aquaracer, Link and Carrera variants- with all Calibre S models featuring the same semi-circular sub-dials. It can sometimes to hard to work out which movement is used in a watch without reading the script on the dial, but the Calibre S watches are easy to identify.

Calibre S sub-dials aside, the watch has a conventional look, with a simple, flat black dial, applied hour-markers and a black tachymeter bezel.

Overall the design works well, although the two Calibre S registers can look a little lost on the dial. On most Calibre S models, the two registers extend towards the edge of the dial, as with the Link Calibre S below. But the larger diameter of this Carrera means that this isn’t possible and so the registers don’t integrate into the dial as neatly as on other models.

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