Review: TAG Heuer Carrera Jack Heuer 80 Edition

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   4 May 2012   |   65 Comments  

The Jack Heuer 80th Birthday Edition Carrera is one of the most anticipated TAG Heuer watches in some time. The watch was first shown at Baselworld in March, and while it is not yet in the stores, we have been able to get our hands on an advanced prototype watch for a few days of use in the real world so that we can bring you the first review.

As the name suggests, this Carrera is made to mark the 80th Birthday of Jack Heuer, the grandson of the TAG Heuer founder and CEO of company during its dynamic period of innovation in the 1970s. You can read about the background to the watch at our earlier Baselworld post- here.

Dial & Hands

The magic of this watch is the dial, which is both what sets the watch apart from the modern Carrera range and provides the  visual link to the original Heuer Carrera of the 1960s.

The silver dial has a star-burst finish that gives the dial a different appearance depending on the light. You can see in these photos that the dial can appear grey at times and “almost-white” at others. It’s a beautiful dial and one that you can’t stop looking at.

The dial has two large, recessed sub-dials, which record running seconds (right) and a 30-minute Chronograph counter (left). Both are finished with a radial pattern and bordered by a thin, angled silver frame.

The sub-dial design is attractive, although they can appear fractionally too close together. The placement of the sub-dial hands is fixed by the size of the movement, so perhaps making the registers slightly smaller would have provided a great visual separation. On a side note, it’s great to see a “bi-compax” (sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock) layout used again- it’s been a long time coming!

The minute and hour hands are borrowed from other watches in the Carrera range and are consistent with the style of the original ’64 Carrera. I like the thin, contoured central Chrono. hand, which in bright red provides a sharp contrast to the Silver dial.

Lume is not a strong suit of the dial, with metal hour-markers (also faithful to the ’64 Carrera) having no lume- you’ll have to rely on the hands alone to read the time at night.

The sub-dial hands are fairly conventional, although the red tips are not 100% convincing- perhaps one red highlight too many.

The dial has a printed “Carrera” and “Heuer” logos, with the red Heuer shield looking fantastic. It would have been a nice touch to see the word “Automatic” replace “Calibre 17“.

The final red highlight is the red “80″ on the dark-grey inner- tachy bezel in a nod to Jack’s personal milestone.

Overall the various elements of the dial are a success- a big success. The colour combination is similar to the 40th Anniversary Carrera of 2004, but with a dial more faithful to the original. There are enough elements here that pay respect to that original Carrera, yet the watch never feels like a copy or re-edition.

Case

The Jack Heuer Carrera uses a 41mm stainless steel case, which retains the classic Carrera shape. Note that the pusher design is the same as used on the Carrera 1887 and while they are a different shape to the originals, they look great.

Consistent with the “Heuer” logo on the dial, the case is finished with a “Heuer” branded crown.

Did you notice in the above shot that the crown sits lower than the Chronograph pushers? This is because the Calibre 17 is a modular movement, meaning that it has a Chronograph module mounted on a watch base. An integrated Chronograph does not have this limitation, as you can see from the shots of the Carrera 1887 below.

Comparison with Carrera 1887

The photo above shows the new Rose Gold Carrera 1887 (41mm) alongside the Jack Heuer Carrera. In our original post, we stated that the Jack Heuer 80 case was the same as the Carrera 1887- but it isn’t.

While the two cases share the same lower-case and diameter, the top section of the case (the bezel) has a slightly different shape.You may have read that the Carrera 80 is not as thick as the 1887- if that is true, we are talking microns of difference, as the two cases look and feel exactly the same thickness. The slope of the bezel on the Carrera 80 falls away at a sharper angle, but this is more a visual trick.

The casebacks of the two watches are quite different, with the Gold Carrera getting the sapphire caseback to highlight the in-house Carrera 1887 movement.

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