One question that often gets asked on the watch forums is why a particular watch that someone has seen at a dealer isn’t featured on the main TAG Heuer website or in the printed catalogue.
Part of the reason is that the way that watches are sold has changed. It used to be that all of a brands’ new models were shown to buyers at the Basel exhibition in March of each year and then delivered across the year- so it was easy to catalogue that years’ watches.
Now, most brands want to have a few surprises throughout the year, and so while Basel remains important, it’s now simply the main launch of the year, rather than the only launch. While the catalogues are printed early in the year, some 2011 models won’t be officially shown until October/ November, meaning they never make a catalogue.
But this week’s watch is something a little different: A Carrera that is on sale now, but not available from your high-street outlet or boutique.
So before taking a closer look at this Carrera, it’s worth going into a little more detail about how watches are categorised inside TAG Heuer.
Categories of Watches
The first type of watch is a standard production model. These are pretty self-explanatory, as you see these every day in Authorised Dealers (“ADs”). If your AD sells out of stock, they can simply order more. Typically, it’s these watches that are featured in the annual catalogue and on the website.
The second type is also fairly obvious- the Limited Editions. Only a set number of these is made, and sometimes an AD will get an allocation, sometimes they won’t. After all, there are only a fixed number to go around.
The third type is perhaps the least well-known- it’s the Special Orders, which TAG Heuer refer to as “ADIS” models. ADIS originally stood for “Animation Dial Information Sheet”, but now refers to a watch that is a special order.
Before any of these are made, ADs around the world have to commit to how many of these they will buy from TAG Heuer- and that is the number that is produced- no more, no less. This includes watches like the original Monaco Twenty-Four Gulf and special editions produced for a single country. Sometimes a special order watch turns into a regular production model- sometimes they are featured in a catalogue, but most of the time they aren’t.
But while most TAG Heuer watches fit within one of these three categories, there are sometimes watches that fall outside these definitions- such as the Carrera you see below, reference CAR2211 (white) and CAR2210 (black). This unique Carrera not only isn’t available in most markets, but it also isn’t available from a normal store- you can only buy this one from a TAG Heuer outlet store.
Special Edition Carrera
The watch above is a version of the Carrera that was intended to be sold through the normal channels, before it was cancelled late in development. Instead of scrapping the watch altogether, it was decided to make small numbers of the watch available through the TAG Heuer outlet stores.
While the watch uses the familiar Calibre 16 (Valjoux 7750) movement, there are enough unique aspects to the watch to make it an interesting model.
The Carrera uses the typical three-register layout of the Calibre 16 Carrera Chronograph, with the 12 and 6 o’clock sub-dials sharing the same radial patterning as the V3 Carrera 1887, as well as a similar 9 o’clock register.
The dial itself has a printed dial and hour-markers, rather than the applied logo and markers of the Carrera 1887.
This Carrera also gets a unique hand-set, with the model shown here having blue hands. The sub-dials at 12 and 6 o’clock use the same hands- square-bottomed pieces that will be very familiar to collectors of vintage Heuer watches, as it’s the same style used on many of the Chronomatic-powered watches of the 1970s. Below you see the same design used on a 1974 Heuer Silverstone.
Case and Bracelet
The Special Edition Carrera uses a polished 39mm case and no external tachy bezel, a style again consistent with the Carrera 1887. The tachy scale is mounted on an inner-bezel, in keeping with the original 1964 Carrera style.
There are two types of outer-bezel used for this watch. The white-dial has a polished outer-bezel, while the black-dial version has a brushed finish.
Most Carrera bracelets have 5 rows of links, which alternate between a brushed and polished finish. The Special Edition Carrera uses a simple three-row bracelet with an all-brushed finish.
The Carrera uses a steel caseback, which has a Clos de Paris pattern in the centre. While there has been a lot of debate about sapphire casebacks, I think the caseback on this Carrera looks pretty good
Here is the back-dial version, which apart from the obvious colour differences also has the brushed finish external bezel, as mentioned above- quite nice, but I prefer the white dial, mainly because the combination of white dial and blue hands works very well together.
On the Wrist
Putting aside that the Carrera is only in very limited release, I have to say that I think it looks great. Yes, I can see that there could have been confusion about this watch, the Carrera 1887, the Carrera Heritage and the Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph all in the same line-up, but putting that aside, it’s a good-looking watch.
The watch has popped up at a few TAG Heuer outlet stores- certainly in the UK, US and Spain, but i’ts one that you’ll struggle to find. From the point of view of managing the Carrera range, I can see why this model was dropped, but for a watch lover I really enjoy seeing these unusual watches pop up. Imagine how boring life would be if they only watches you could buy were neatly set out in a single catalogue- part of the sport of collecting is seeking out that rare watch that no-one else has seen before- the only challenge is convincing people that the watch isn’t fake, because when most of us want to validate a watch, we still head straight for the brands’ website.