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TAG Heuer Carrera 1887: The Inside Story

The story of the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 41mm has been one of the more interesting tales in TAG Heuer’s recent history. First, there was the controversy over the origins of the movement, then there was the prototype Carrera 1887 (V1) shown at Basel 2010. This model never made it into production, but a modified version did have limited release (V2). Then photos of a third version (V3) began to circulate- was this a fake? A separate model?

There has been some confusion on the changes: why they happened and which markets would be getting which version. We asked Carrera designer Christoph Behling for his take on the changes when we spoke with him a few weeks ago and today we can bring you the view straight from TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Christophe Babin.

They key pieces of news are that 1) “Version 3” of the watch is for all markets and will be introduced as a “running change” progressively from mid-year and 2) that this watch will be sold in five combination’s  sold- white and black dial with either a black leather strap or bracelet and a white-dial with a brown leather strap (Ref. CAR2111.FC6291).

Interview

Calibre 11: The Carrera 1887 has changed twice from the initial design shown at Basel last year- can you take us through the reasons for the changes?

Jean-Christophe Babin: It’s very simple. Initially with the first version that was shown at Basel, it was not yet the production version, and so we received a lot of positive feedback , but also some retailers pointed out that  it was a bit close to the basic Carrera Tachymetre, especially with the bezel design. Some were afraid that it would make it hard for consumers to identify which Carrera had the Calibre 1887 from a normal Calibre 16 Carrera.

So, in response we decided to make some small changes- we wanted to move the tachy scale inside to the flange rather than outside and we would make the bezel slimmer to make it stand out more- but of course this was not possible overnight. Yes, we could move to a slimmer bezel overnight but not the tachy scale on the flange.

So, we decided to launch the product anyhow because the response was so strong and it offered a very elegant Chronograph more elegant, much more “open” with the slimmer bezel. This created a Carrera with a feeling of simple elegance- quite different to the rest of the Carrera line-up. But, of course the spirit of the Carrera is racing, so we did want to eventually bring back the Tachymetre..it just took some time.

So, now we will have the Carrera with the tachymetre on the flange for the final look- so, the elegance of the slimmer outer-bezel without any markings, but a true TAG Heuer Chronograph with a Tachymetre scale inside.

C11: So this new version is the one that will go on sale in the US?

JCB: The US will start [In first Quarter 2011– C11] with the one on sale in other countries (“Version 2”) and we’ll make a running change, because it’s too complex and would take too long to accumulate volume of stock of the next one (“Version 3”) for the US market. Having said that, the people who manage to buy an early watch (“Version 2”) will have almost a Limited Edition watch and so a chance to improve the value and be a collectors piece, because their version will always have been the first and “original”.

C11: My sense is while some people like Version 2, some people like Version 3, there is confusion about which version they will actually be able to buy…

JCB: Yes, I think you’re right, and that’s fine [people liking different versions-C11], because you can imagine that in the future we may offer the two versions. Not initially of course, this is a major new line for us, including new movements, so we can’t afford to have too many versions today, but as we build volumes we could offer more variety, so you can decide which version you want.

C11: And has production of the Calibre 1887 now ramped up fully?

JCB: No, not yet- it can take 5-6 years to ramp up to full capacity, because regardless of the machinery you have the experience curve that you have to get through- it’s not just producing movements, it’s producing quality movements that don’t come back to after-sales after a few months. So this is why we have taken out time.

The project was initially supposed to go to the market in 2009, but was released in 2010 and there were good reasons for that- focus on quality. Basically, we’re equipped now to produce up to 50,000 per year. Last year in 6 months we made 8,000 and this year we’re shooting for 35,000…but still we’re missing people. We have 40 open positions at the moment,  not all for Calibre 1887, but in total we have 40 technical positions open.

And 50,000 is a big number- don’t forget that apart from ETA and maybe Rolex with the Daytona, no-one in Switzerland is making 50,000 chronograph movements- Chopard and Zenith make far less. So, when it happens we will have gone from making a few hundred movements a few years ago to 50,000, which will be a big industrial achievement.

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  • Swainey

    MB – I have a white face black strap V2 and enquired about a brown strap. So far £350 is the best I can find.

    Good luck with your purchase.

  • Haroon

    Purchased v2 black face with bracelet 12/13/11 and received today love it !! personally think it looks a little more elegant than v3 , simple clean face preferred over v3 but really just a personal taste issue. both are nice but i think v2 can dress up a little more than v3 and I am glad I found one……

  • H Patel

    Hi

    I've had this watch for a number of months but never wear it on the weekends which leaves me with manually having to change the date every Monday. I know that you're not supposed to change the date between 8pm and 4pm but is it ok to do this by turning the clock forward or is that just as bad?

    Also i've noticed that when the stop watch runs the minute hand moves to the next minute a second before I think it should. Is that normal or should I take it back to Mappin and Webb?

    Many thanks

    H

  • DC

    Firstly, my apologies that a couple of comments here got lost during the migration to a new server…so if you posted a comment and don't see it here, that is the reason.

    H Patel, Yes, I would take the watch in to be checked. My view is always that these are expensive time pieces, and if ever in doubt, get it checked…if only for peace of mind.

    David

  • Andre

    Great looking Watch! Some more info known yet about the accuracy of the 1887 movement? Thinking of buying the V3, like that one most! btw great site, lots of info/news about Tag-Heuer watches! Thanks!

    • DC

      Sorry, didn't answer your question on accuracy. I haven't heard much on people's "real world" experience. I know they were targeting "COSC-like". How have owners found the accuracy?

      David

  • mb

    Black V3 on steel bracelet ordered and expected this weekend – I really can't wait.

    I had a slight preference for the V2 but left it too late and there don't seem to be any around in London.

    As I said though, it's a slight preference and I'm more than happy to be getting a V3. Also, I got the V3 at such a great price, it was a no-brainer.

    Loving this site, by the way!!

  • DC

    Andre and mb- thanks- great that you enjoy the site. I'm hearing that there will be a few new 1887 Carrera models shown in Basel in March….

    dc

  • Andreas

    Hi

    @DC Many thanks for this great web page and for providing valuable information!

    @H Patel

    I noticed the same behavior (minute hand moves when the second hand is on 59) on my 1887. Do you have received feedback from your dealer?

  • Andre

    Just ordered Black V3 on steel bracelet. I couldn't wait.. I had to order it before 2012 starts. Can’t wait. Went to an AD and had it on my wrist. Stunning watch! Hopefully in 2 weeks I can enjoy my first TAG watch…

  • H Patel

    Hi Andreas. I haven't had it checked yet but will do so in the new year. Will let you know what the outcome is.

    Has anyone got any feedback re my comment on changing the date by moving the clock forward? Any comments would be much appreciated.

  • mb

    Yay- V3 has arrived!! Loving it already.

  • Andre

    Hi, just got my new Carrera 1887! (The CAR2110.BA720 version 3) Stunning looking watch. But I'm not sure it's authentic. Watch on the front (dial, hands, crown and sapphire glass) looks great and precise. Also the feel in total is far from fake. The only thing I'm sure about is the oscillating mass…. It's so different to all the 1887 movement pictures I can find on the internet. I bought it just under the RRP. So not a real fake for less then 200 EURO's

    Is this movement fake or just the latest design of the oscillating mass? Couldn't find any picture with this type of shape as on my watch

    So hopefully you can help me out! Thanks in advance.

    <img src="http://www.calibre11.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_1073.jpg&quot; alt="" />

    <img src="http://www.calibre11.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_1099.jpg&quot; alt="" />

    <img src="http://www.calibre11.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_1062.jpg&quot; alt="" />

  • DC

    Andre, pretty sure its fine. I saw an updated rotor on a few watches last week, and while I didn't grab a photo I think they were the same as yours.

    David

  • Andre

    Thanks David, so my watch is genuine and up-to-date? Already loving it!! Keep up the good work!

    André

  • Miki

    Cal 1887 accuracy

    I own a SLR300 with 1887 calibre. I let the chronograph going all through the night (nearly 8 hours) and in the morning the watch was 7 minutes late..

    Maybe it was not fully wound? True is it was just bought that day but I am sure I wound it enough..

    Any ideas?

  • DC

    Not sure Miki.

    Running the Chrono on all watches (expect the Mikrograph/ timer) will impact power reserve and accuracy of the watch.

    Worth fully winding the watch and then trying again- but if in any doubt, I'd take it in to have it looked at.

    David

  • H Patel

    Andreas – I finally went to my AD to check my query regarding the minute hand on the stopwatch moving when the second hand is on 59 seconds. The dealer said this was within normal tolerance so I guess no issue

  • DC

    Thanks for the update

  • SCNomad

    Well, I've Had my Carrera 1887 V2 for about 16 months now and although I still love the watch I'm very disappointed with the quality of the power reserve. When I first purchased the watch I could get at least 48hrs reserve. However over time this has has reduced to between 6 & 18 hours (I use the watch every day (Mon to Fri/Sat – 8am to 11:30pm).

    I recently sent it back to Tag for an apparent 'Movement Repair' under warranty (took about 3-4 weeks). I have had it back for a few weeks now, but sadly with little/no improvement! Has anyone else had or known of similar issues and should I be looking to send it away yet again?

  • hank

    H Patel – I have the same thing with my v2. I always viewed it as a characteristic rather than a fault, and it didn't bother me too much.

    My v2 is with Tag again for repair, it's losing time again. Second time in 16 months. Hopefully they'll fix it for good this time but in the event they don't, is there anything to suggest that if this continues outside of the warrantee period, Tag would repair it for free given its a known/reoccurring issue? The last thing I want to do is have to replace it, given that the v2 is probably not around anymore.

  • Andreas

    H Patel – Thanks for the update (have seen it only now)! Seems to be within the acceptable range of tolerance…

  • Philmo

    Hi

    Have been reading up on the 1887, in particular the V2. IMHO it will be a classic in all guises for decades.

    Noted that many graphics in threads are missing – is there a way of refreshing these?

    Is the concern re energy retention of the V2 now an acknowledged issue or limited to a batch or a particular usage pattern?

    Would appreciate if anyone can shed further light.

    Regards

    Phil

    • DC

      Hi Phil, Yes, the broken image links are a real pain- part of the reason that the website has been upgraded. When you come across a broken link, please drop me a line and I will fix ASAP.

      Cheers

      David

  • Thitipong

    Dear David,

    After all these times, have u decided yet which one is ur preference v2 or v3? Thanks!!!

    Thitipong

    • Good question. Still V2 I think…although its closer than it was. The Rose Gold Carrera 1887 V3 with the Silver dial is an amazing watch.

      dc