Only a couple of days after we showed you the first photos of the new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1969, we can now bring you a more detailed review of the watch. Normally there is a long delay between the time that we first see official photos and when the watch arrives in the stores, but in this case, the watch arrived at the boutiques before the press photos have been released. Yes, it’s available right now.
The Titanium Carrera 1969 is the flagship of the mainstream 2014 Carrera range- excluding the haute horlogerie pieces- and has the dual task of not only showcasing TAG Heuer’s new in-house movement (and first 100% designed production movement- ever), but also in helping further re-position TAG Heuer into higher price brackets.
This first Carrera 1969 is a limited edition of 500 watches, with additional Calibre 1969-powered pieces expected to be released later in 2014, although as you’ll soon read, those watches will feature a movement with a new name- Calibre CH80.
Let’s start with the dial which is made up of two parts: the majority of the dial having a lovely Cotes de Geneve finish, which falls away on the left-hand side of the dial to reveal a semi-circular disc highlighting the date window.
Three dates are exposed, with the current date not only sitting in the centre, but also having a Gold background. While at first I was skeptical of the design, it works very well. Once you know what you are looking for, there is no confusion as to the current date (displaying the 17th below), and the placement frees up space on the dial.
But what about the legibility of the hour register once timing goes past the 6-hour mark? Given that the hand extends to the marker on the sub-dial ring, there is little to no impact on how easy it is to read the register.
There are two different designs for the sub-dials, with the 3 and 6 o’clock registers featuring an angled outer-ring and an Azurage finish, while the 9 o’clock register has the same background as the dial and a flatter outer-ring.
As mentioned when we first saw the watch, perhaps the only detail that feels out of place is the “Calibre 1969 Chronograph” text. Deleting that would given the dial more space, but it’s a small point. Take a look at these photos below- it’s a great looking dial, with the Black and Rose Gold working well together. You won’t confuse the Carrera 1969 for any of the other models in the Carrera range.
The headline specs of the new case is that it’s a 43mm Titanium Carbide case. The case design is- of course- based on the traditional Carrera design, but with “hollowed” sides, which we first saw on the Mikrogirder 10000.
Each of the horns has a Rose Gold bolt, but unlike some of the haute horlogerie pieces, this is likely to be decorative only.
Crowning the case is a beautiful Rose Gold bezel, which looks great…and isn’t too thick.Speaking of which, one of the very pleasing elements of the case is the thickness- or lack thereof. TAG Heuer talked up the slim profile of the new movement, and while we don’t have the specs of the case depth yet, it certainly looked slimmer than the Calibre 17 Carrera that I was wearing. To me, the slim profile of the Calibre 1969 is, along with the three-register layout, the major advantage that the new movement has over the Calibre 1887, so it’s great that the new movement hasn’t be packed inside a deep case.
The “girder” look along the side of the case helps give the Carrera 1969 a more modern feel that the rest of the Carrera range, which typically sport solid steel cases. When we see a Steel Carrera 1969, it will be interesting to see the combination of polished versus brushed finishes.
On The Wrist
So, on to the important part- how does it feel on the wrist? It certainly feels lighter than the steel Carrera that I was wearing that day, which is not unexpected given its Titanium construction and slimmer profile. 43mm is larger than I would normally wear, but I have to say that it looked pretty good…
Movement- Calibre 1969/ Calibre CH80
There is not a lot that can be said about movements during a review- unless you conduct a bench test on accuracy, all that you can really comment on are the superficial aspects- what it looks and feels like.
The pushers felt smooth, noticeably smoother than the Calibre 17 Carrera that I was wearing. As expected of a modern movement, the chronograph has a silky reset.
While the Calibre 1969 looks great through the sapphire caseback, it would have been nice if TAG Heuer had gifted the Calibre 1969 its own rotor design rather than adopting the look of the Calibre 1887 rotor.
Note that in March 2014, TAG Heuer announced that it would change the name of the Calibre 1969 to the TAG Heuer Calibre CH80…that makes this Carrera even more special, as it will be the only TAG Heuer model to ever feature the Calibre 1969.
Look a little more closely and you’ll see that the stitches on the strap are actually made of Gold thread (!)
For a while now we’ve been bemoaning the fact that the TAG Heuer range is hollow in the middle: A great range of watches in the US$3,000-$8,000 range, but then very little until you get to almost $40,000 for the lower rungs of the haute horlogerie range. At a retail price of around EUR10, 500, the 2014 TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1969 starts to bridge that gap and does it credibly- there are enough distinctive materials and finishes on the new watch that clearly set it apart from the rest of the Carrera range, even the Calibre 36 Carrera.
Don’t get the wrong impression: That’s still a big price for any watch, and puts the Carrera 1969 into a segment of the mainstream market that is new for TAG Heuer. Of course, some of this premium is because this is the launch version of the Calibre 1969, so it will be interesting to see what the pricing strategy is when other Calibre 1969 models arrive.
The watch itself looks great in person, and certainly better than the press photos…in fact, it looks even better than most of these photos show, due to the presence of some unhelpful spotlights.
While it will be great to see additional Calibre 1969 Carreras throughout the year, what we can’t wait to see is the new movement fitted to a Monaco- the Calibre 1887 has yet to make it outside the Carrera range, but we hope that TAG Heuer will prioritise getting the Calibre 1969 into the Monaco as soon as possible.