“We’ll make a Carrera with a new design so that you know it has the in-house movement- we must not confuse the in-house watch with other models in the Carrera family“. This is what TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver told us two months before the Carrera Heuer-01 was launched. At the time of that interview, we weren’t sure exactly how the Carrera Heuer-01 would be different to the traditional Carrera, but the minute that the watch was unveiled at Basel in March 2015, it was clear that we were seeing the design language that would carry the Carrera towards 2020.
What began with a single model for the 2015 model year has now expanded to more than 30 individual references, with variations of dial designs, colours, sizes and materials. It’s a look that has modernised and expanded interest in the Carrera line, albeit a design that strays far from the simple, classic ethos of Jack Heuer’s original. But so long as TAG Heuer continue to offer heritage Heuer-branded options alongside the bolder, larger newcomer, the modern Carrera expands and modernises the range, without the cost of alienating traditional buyers.
With the expansion of the Carrera Heuer-01 range announced earlier this year, we’ve been waiting to get our hands on a selection of models from the latest range. We’ve hand-picked our five favourite new models and sent them into the studio for more than 100 detailed photos to show every inch of the newcomers, with an emphasis on the smaller 43mm watches.
Carrera Heuer-01 Ref. CAR201V 43mm
Let’s start back where it began- CAR201V is what happens when you shrink the original red and black 45mm CAR2A1Z to a 43mm case. The two watches are virtually identical when viewed from head-on, with only the most observant noticing that the collar around the two pushers are polished steel rather than darkened titanium. In fact, this is the giveaway for the only material difference between the new 43mm Skeleton range and the 45mm original- instead of the centre case being made from titanium (with a titanium carbide coating), the smaller 43mm centre cases are made from steel, as you can see from the photo below.
Compare the side profile above to the 45mm steel/ titanium watch below and you’ll spot the difference immediately. The other giveaway is the lack of a coloured (in this case blue) line on the steel watches separating the middle case from the bezel.
The other spot that you’ll find steel rather than titanium? The deployant clasp.
Carrera Heuer-01 Ref. CAR205A/ B 43mm
Just as the CAR201V is the smaller brother to the CAR2A1Z, then the CAR205A/ B is a 43mm take on the CAR2A5A/ B. The two watches are the same, other than CAR205A having a black ceramic bezel, while CAR205B has a rose solid gold bezel.
The centre case here is coated steel, rather than the coated titanium on the larger watch, with rose gold lugs completing the look.
It’s worth noting that while the clasp on this prototype watch is polished steel, the official spec sheet tells us that the final model will have a black titanium clasp.
Carrera Heuer-01 Ref. CAR201W 43mm
Up next is the only 43mm Carrera Heuer-01 watch without a 45mm equivalent and the only mainstream Carrera Heuer-01 with a traditional dial- and it’s our favourite. We showed you this watch back in 2016, but now for 2017 TAG Heuer has added leather strap options, of which our favourite is this fantastic grey leather strap.
The strap has a rubber base with calf-skin leather stitched to the outside, giving the strap the best of both worlds. It’s a beautifully finished, with slim end pieces giving a perfect fit to the case.
What we like the most about this model is that the combination of a leather strap and a traditional dial gives the watch a very different look and feel to the rest of the Heuer-01 range. More conservative for sure, but if you’re not ready to go for a skeleton-dial watch, or you want something that works well with a suit while keeping the modern case design of the Heuer-01, then this is the choice to make.
There are two leather straps available for this watch- strap code FT6095 for the anthracite/ grey leather strap shown in these photos and a tan strap, code FT6122
Carrera Heuer-01 Ref. CAR201T 43mm
The blue dial Carrera Heuer-01 shown here was launched in Geneva in January this year as part of a three model range– the black ref. CAR201V shown at the start of this review, a brown (officially “Cognac”) ref. CAR201U and the blue watch you see here. Again, we have an all-steel construction in a 43mm case with the in-house Calibre Heuer-01 movement.
The blue elements are restricted to the blue ceramic bezel, the blue plate on the dial and a blue inner flange.
In addition to the H-Link steel bracelet fitted to this watch, there is also a blue leather/ rubber strap option, code FC6406.
Carrera Heuer-01 Drive Timer Ref. CAR2A1H 45mm
The final watch to make our list is the only 45mm model of the group- the Carrera Heuer-01 Drive Timer. The Drive Timer is a steel 45mm case with a titanium carbide black coating on both the centre case and the lugs, giving the watch a stealthy look broken only by red rings separating the centre case and the bezel and on the upper chronograph pusher.
The dial continues this theme, with a black semi-skeleton plate offset by a bright red centre chronograph hand and 12 and 6 o’clock register hands. The black fixed ceramic bezel has red-filled text for the “Tachymetre” text and a red TAG Heuer shield.
But what sets this watch apart from others in the range is the dial- what we’re calling a semi-skeleton dial. Unlike the hour markers on the other watches in the Heuer-01 range, the Drive Timer has the double numerals minute markings that have been part of the Carrera look since the Vanquish back in 2005. To make room for these numerals on the dial, we have a larger dial plate, therefore leaving a smaller space to view the inner workings of the movement and exposed date wheel.
Think of the Drive Timer as a half-way house between the “full” skeleton models and the traditional dial of the 43mm CAR201W- and we like that the new watch keeps alive the “double-digit” look of the popular Day-Date Carrera Calibre 16 and Calibre 1887 chronographs.
The other unique part of this model is the black calf-skin/ leather strap with red stitching. Rather than the typical smooth finish, the strap features ridges towards the top of the strap, which are set with horizontal white stitches. There is no option here for a bracelet, but that doesn’t matter as the strap helps set the Drive Timer apart.
Carrera Wrist Shots
And and wrap things up, here is what our Carrera quintet look like out of the lightbox and on the wrist.