Ultimate Guide to the TAG Heuer Carrera
Since its re-introduction in 1996, the TAG Heuer Carrera has gone from a limited edition novelty to being the centre-piece of today’s TAG Heuer range. So, given the importance of the Carrera we have put together the ultimate guide to the TAG Heuer Carrera, stepping you through the key models from the five distinct generations of the re-booted Carrera all the way through to the current range.
As a TAG Heuer model, the Carrera has moved away from simply being a mainstream Chronograph- we’ve had line extensions (the Grand Carrera) and a push into the top-end of watchmaking, with the Carrera serving as the base for the Mikro models- Mikrograph, Mikrogirder, Mikrtotimer and MikrotourbillonS.
In our look at the Heuer Carrera, we ended the first chapter of the story with the Carrera being phased out by the newly created TAG-Heuer. The TAG Heuer range expanded into a full-range of numerical models- the 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 6000 series which all exploited the TAG Heuer “Six Features” mantra.
But 10 years after the Carrera disappeared, a range of factors came together which saw the iconic model return.
The 1990s Carrera
The 1990s were a decade when retro suddenly became cool again. Whether it was cars or watches, it seemed as though every brand was desperately checking its back catalogue to see if there were any hidden gems. So how did TAG Heuer rediscover the Carrera/.
One story is that the resurrection of the Carrera actually begins with the planned initial public offering (“IPO“) of TAG Heuer in the mid-1990s. Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) sold 40% of TAG Heuer to private equity firm Doughty Hanson in 1995 and along with the management team, the parties were looking to tap into the growing market for luxury brands going public.
But there was a problem- what exactly did TAG Heuer stand for? In an era where heritage was all-important, what was TAG Heuer’s heritage? The oldest model in the range was only ten years old.
And so to address this it was decided to re-launch a special edition of the Carrera at the Monza circuit in late 1995/ early 1996. The company even invited back Jack Heuer to attend the launch of the Carrera, something Jack generously agreed to, despite the hurt of the forced sale of Heuer in 1982 still lingering.
The renewed interest in Heuer’s heritage also extended to the book “Mastering Time” which the company commissioned to look back on the history of Heuer and integrate the new TAG Heuer into this story. The book was first published in mid-1996, only a few months after the Carrera re-edition was launched.
Sixth Generation: 1996- 2002
As the name implies, the Carrera re-edition was a faithful reproduction of the original 1964 Carrera (at the time, TAG Heuer believed that the Carrera had been launched in 1964 not 1963- it was only recently after earlier materials were found in the archives that the date was confirmed as ’63).