Carrera-Calibre-CH80 (1)

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre CH80- First look

TAG Heuer has this morning released a pair of great retro-style Carreras that hark back to the 2447 Carrera of the 1960s- the 2014 TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre CH80.

CH80? Yes, that is the new name for TAG Heuer’s Calibre 1969. Given that the 1969 was launched only last November, you might wonder why the name of the Calibre has changed…and we’ll answer that question for you shortly.

But before we do, let’s take a closer look at the new “Panda” Carrera- starting with the watch that inspired the new duo- the Heuer Carrera 2447.

The Inspiration

My favourite of the 1960s Heuer Carrera is definitely the 3-register models, powered by the manual-wind Valjoux 72 movement. Yes, the case is small by today’s standards (36mm), but the 3-register 2447 Carrera is perhaps the cleanest and simplest expression of the Carrera design.

One variant of the 2447 Carrera were two models with contrasting sub-dials- known as the “Panda” dial (white dial with black registers) and “reverse Panda” (black dial with white registers). The examples below come from Abel Court, a specialist Heuer watchmaker well-known to regular Calibre 11 readers.

Heuer Carrera 2447 NST

The reverse Panda model shown above has the reference 2447 NST- the T marking out this model which has a tachymeter scale.

This example has beautifully aged lume on the hands and well-preserved lume dots sitting behind the metal hour-markers

Despite how pretty the Panda/ reverse Panda combo are, TAG Heuer has never done a re-edition of the colour-scheme, although we got close in the early 2000s with this Black Carrera that featured contrasting White “Daytona” rings.

Heuer Carrera 2447 SN

The second model flips around the colour scheme, with the reference number 2447SN- no tachy scale on this example

You can read more about these beautiful 1960s Carreras at our dedicated Carrera mini-site.

Design

  • Automatic movement (vs. manual-wind for the original)
  • 41mm steel case (36mm)
  • Red central chronograph hand (Black/ White)
  • Date-wheel at 4 o’clock (no date)
  • Red detailing on the crown (none)
  • Red-tip sub-dial hands (Black/ White)
  • Red pulsations scale (none)

The design works very well, although we’ll stick to the usual Calibre 11 comments about the tendency of TAG Heuer to add one extra flourish too many- in this case, there are one-two flashes of Red that could have been left on the cutting room floor- for example, a standard steel crown and no pulsation scale.

Calibre CH80

The news that TAG Heuer has dropped the name “Calibre 1969” is a surprise. Officially, TAG Heuer claim that “Calibre 1969” was a codename used for the development of the movement…although we know that the original codename was actually “Calibre 1888”.

So why the change? We hear that there are plans for other brands in the LVMH group to offer the movement, and it was felt that “Calibre 1969”- a reference to the year that Heuer introduced its Chronomatic Calibre 11 movement- was too closely linked to Heuer/ TAG Heuer, whereas “CH80” is a more universal name. “CH” stands for Chevenez, the town where the movement will be built, while “80” refers to the movement having an 80-hour power reserve.

In fact, the 80-hours represents an improvement on the Calibre 1969, which boasted a 70-hour power reserve at launch. We understand that TAG Heuer has made several changes and component upgrades to the newly named Calibre.

Ref CBA2110

The “reverse Panda” dial model is reference CBA2110 and is available on either the “H-shaped” steel bracelet offered on other Carrera models, or a Black leather Rallye- strap.

Wrist Shots

Ref CBA2111

If Panda dials are more your thing, then the White (officially Silver) dial model is Reference CBA2111

Wirst Shots

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Comparison with Carrera Calibre 17 Boutique Edition

We had a chance to put the Calibre 17 “Jack Heuer 81” Carrera alongside the new Carrera CH80. The cases are almost identical in terms of thickness- the new CH80 is below left in both photos.

And we were lucky enough to spend a few minutes with Jack Heuer to talk about the new Carrera range

Price and Availability

The good news is that the Carrera CH80 has a very competitive price. As we noted at the launch of the Carrera 1969, a price of more than EUR10,000 was a big price for a Carrera, even one with Gold and Titanium parts and a new in-house movements.

We understand that the new models will be priced at CHF5,200(Swiss Francs) in Switzerland, the same price as the Carrera Calibre 17 “Jack Heuer 81” , which feels like a great price considering the two watches offer a similar style, but the Calibre 17 features a standard ETA movement rather than the in-house Calibre CH80.

It’s important to note that there will likely be some changes from the watch that you see here before it goes on sale. We understand that the decision to show these Panda Carreras at Basel was taken quite late- the plan was to show a stainless steel version of the Carrera Calibre 1969. We’ve already seen a change in the crown design, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were some subtle changes to the red highlights, and perhaps to the case.

Live from Basel

Here is the first set of live photos from Basel.

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Vintage Heuer 2447 photos courtesy of Abel Court Heuer Time

  • Mark

    Put simply. The watch we all wanted to see happen

    • Will__Gibb

      Hoping that price is true, because that would be a great price for in house chrono.

    • abrod

      This is certainly the watch we were waiting for, and yet somehow it bores me… Seems too similar to a re-edition, like the old CS3110 of the 90s. What I'd really like to see is something with a balance of classic cues and modern haute horology, maybe just a touch closer to the limited Cal.1969 from January

  • Stephen

    I would have associated "Calibre 1969" with Zenith. Still seems odd to me to have (TAG-) Heuer and Zenith together under the LVMH banner — though TH designs and Zenith EP movements are certainly a great combination. As for this piece, Jack Heuer would have to approve.

    • Agree- perhaps the answer is as simple as the in-coming CEO not liking the name? Will try and find out more.

      dc

  • Steve

    The good news is there is great potential for this new Carrera. The bad news is these 2 are just plainly over designed with too many red pops, a poorly integrated date window and the CH80 dial text just looks weird. Hopefully the case is no thicker than 13mm.

    • I don't mind the date window…although as I never use the date function, I'd probably prefer all of my watches to be "dateless".

      Will check out the thickness today- agree that it should be thinner than the "standard" Carrera

      dc

  • wynonie

    Interesting to see that the fancy crown in the earlier photos, hasn't made it onto the live shots of, what I assume, is the production version. This has to be a good thing as its one less 'red pop' that i think most would agree were a little over the top. I don't really get the rationale for the calibre name change – its not like a watch manufacturer cant just change the name of the movement exactly like Tag does with the El Primero or the range of Eta movement it uses – but its a minor point. Overall, a very nice, vintage inspired piece at a very interesting price point…take the movement name off the dial and I think its pretty close to perfect.

    • Yes, I wrote my comment about dropping the Red crown before I saw the production version…honest!

  • rodrigoramosmorais

    In my modest opinion, this is a 60's Carrera and a late 2446c Autavia lovechild.
    And to be honest, it is absolutely gorgeous. It is "makes-me-look-at-my-cal-16-carrera-with-disappointment" gorgeous… However, it doesn't beat that Autavia, and thank the lords I have one! http://wp.me/a3ZVJm-3U

  • DM.

    Well, we all know how long I've been waiting for something like this.
    I wonder when I'll get the chance to try it on?

    My instinct is to say that it could do without the red highlights on the dial BUT those red highlights gives some coherency to the use of that gorgeous red backed strap that they have and oh look, that's exactly what it's on.

    I can see my money going on one of these but that's probably not that surprising really.

    DM.

  • abrod

    Any word on when the rest of us will be able to see it in person, at TAG boutiques or dealers? I definitely have to see it for myself…

  • Bob Sullivan

    How is the overall thickness of the case of the CH80 compare the Calibre 17, or the 1887? Hopefully thinner than the 1887!!

  • Mark

    A different Mark than the Mark above!

    I like them. They’re worthy of the name, which is the first step for any TH Carrera for me.

    I’d lose the nail polish – I can live with the other red highlights, even the one on the crown, which appears to have been culled for production.

    David, have you got your hands on them yet? Any news on how white the registers on the black dial are, as opposed to silver? Pet peeve of mine, silver registers on a dark dial…

  • DM.

    hmm, ok, seeing new and better photos has pretty much confirmed that I do want one of these…
    I suppose that it is a regular production model means I don't have to buy it immediately.
    With any luck, they might even make a more "true" 2447 SN re-issue in a pure monochrome scheme.

    DM.

  • imagwai

    Looking at the thickness comparisons between the JH81 and the CH80, I simply don't understand why the CH80 needs to be the same thickness. The thickness of the case is the one big thing that puts me off current Carreras. I also yearn for a 39mm model. As far as these models are concerned, nice though they are, I find them a little too "black and white" (or should I say, stark). For now, happy to say I'll be sticking with my JH80 🙂

  • Steve

    Also really disappointed with the unnessasary thick case. Tag had a real opportunity with this watch and has dropped the ball imo. What were the designers thinking? All the resources spent creating a modern movement, touting the thinness of the CH80 in all the press info and then throwing it the same 16mm case? The balance and proportion of the original Carrera is no where to be found now.

    • Ryan

      Agreed. The thickness of CH80 is ruining the charm of the watch. I do not think it is an effective marketing strategy to give it the same thick case after emphasizing the "thinness" of the movement. I would have preferred CH80 even more if it had a 40mm case. Looking the size of the movement, the watch could have been made smaller and slimmer to qualify as a truly versatile watch that can easily slide under the cuff. I do not know whether the 41mm x 16mm size of the watch was intended to appeal to the whole oversize trend, but the decision is sadly preventing me to go for the watch.

  • I've made some updates to the post following some conversations that I've had over the last few days:
    – Until quite recently, the plan was to show a stainless steel version of the Rose Gold/ Titanium Carrera Calibre 1969
    – The design elements of this watch are not set in stone- we've already seen the crown change, and based on what I've heard there is a good chance that there will be other changes- with a focus on the red details
    – I also think there is a chance that the case will be looked at- not the diameter, but the thickness. I wonder if given the amount of time they had to get the new version ready, whether they didn't simply grab the case of the Carrera Calibre 17 "Jack Heuer 81" to showcase the new design

    Mark, yes, the registers are White.

    So…stay tuned!

    dc

    • Steve

      Good to know, although the case of the caliber 17 Carreras have a lower crown placement due to the modular chrono. Anyway, hopefully the can shave off a millimeter or two and eventually offer a silver dial like the 2447s and remove the date or find a better / more integrated placement.

  • DM.

    Good to hear regarding the details.

    Immediate thing is that technically, the sub-dial hands are wrong.
    Traditionally, when they applied colour to the hands, only the chronographs have it; the running seconds hand should be a plain silver.
    I think the numerals on the rahaut can do with being perhaps bit heavier; not necessarily larger but thicker print.
    I also think the markers on the sub-dial could do with being a bit longer as per the ratios of them on the original 2447 dials.
    I'm now also wondering if, because of the actual extra physical space, they shouldn't consider using double-bar markers instead of the single ones, or maybe just slightly thicker ones. There's something about the current layout that looks like there is too much void/white space.

    It's a little hard to tell from the photos but how deep is the angle of the outer-ring on those sub-dials? On watches with large dials as this does, they can sometimes suffer from having a dial that looks too flat if there isn't enough detail to break up the surface.
    I think that was what I couldn't get on with on the white dial 1887; it looked too flat compared to the black.

    DM.