In Depth Review- Carrera Calibre 16 Ceramic Bezel

TAG Heuer faced a dilemma when it decided to allocate the production capacity of the Calibre 1887/ Heuer 01 movement solely to the modern modular cased Carrera line: what to do with the successful Carrera 1887 range? Despite its difficult birth, the 41mm Carrera 1887 (CAR2110/ CAR2111) was at one time the best-selling TAG Heuer model globally, combining the classic elements of the 1963 original with a modern Swiss made movement.

This year we’ve seen the answer to that question, with the CAR2110 replaced by two 41mm watches- one heritage styled model (the CBK2110/ CBK2112 duo we recently reviewed) and this watch- the sporty CV201AR/ CV201AP duo. We first saw the 2018 sports Carrera at Baselworld back in March, and recently had the chance for a proper hands-on test of the watch.

While the heritage/ sports duo use the same 41mm steel case, they feature different casebacks, pushers/ crown, dials and bezels, giving the two models a distinct look and feel.

2005 TAG Heuer Carrera CV2015

As we noted when we first showed you the sports Carrera back in March, the new watches hark back to the design of the CV2015 (above) from 2005-6, with its blue dial and external bezel, Calibre 16 movement and Orange highlights.

Carrera Calibre 16 Ceramic Bezel Range

There are two colour options in the new range- just like the heritage style Calibre 16 models, you can choose between either a blue or a black dial.

Up Close: Carrera CV201AR- Blue Dial

It’s the use of colours that gives the new Carrera its sporty feel- from the use of white sub-dials on the base blue dial, to the white inner flange, black text  and the liberal use of red highlights, there’s plenty of links here back to the famous Monaco 1133B colours.

The red on the dial is more a “red/ orange” than a deep red, as you can see from these photos. On the wrist and in natural light it’s more of an orange to our eyes, but whatever the hue it does look the goods.

The applied steel hour-markers are the same as the CBK2110, but with the use of aged/ beige lume, which is a recent trend that TAG Heuer has adopted (e.g. the Autavia) along with heritage watches from the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre and Omega. This is one trend that we’re not a fan of: the lume will age naturally anyway, and the faded hue should be earned with time rather than available fresh out of the box.

Up Close: Carrera CV201AP- Black Dial

The second watch is this black dial CV201AP, and it’s the model that we’d choose of the two, something that we didn’t expect given our love of Blue TAG Heuer dials. Yes, the basic colour scheme is the same, but while the multitude of colours on the blue dial model does give it a sporty feel, the black dial feels more cohesive.

Design From Every Angle

Putting aside the dial design, the newest Carrera is distinguished from the heritage lines of the Carrera family by one feature that was controversial when it first appeared: its ceramic bezel. Yes, there are several watches in the Carrera range with these bezels, but as the vintage crew will tell you, the classic Carreras never had an external bezel.

In fact, one of the key things that differentiate a vintage Carrera from an Autavia was that the Autavia had an external bezel, while the Carrera did not. This was the case for all Carrera watches from 1963-1986, as well as the first re-edition models launched in 1996. It wasn’t until 2005 that TAG Heuer created a Carrera with an external bezel.

And since then we’ve seen the external bezel- usually with a tachymeter scale- used for the sporty models, while the heritage watches retain a thin metal bezel with the tachymeter scale often used on an internal flange. 

Technically, both watches come with a single strap option- the H-Link bracelet for the blue dial watch and the black calf-skin leather strap with a red rubber lining and stitching. We say technically, because there is no reason why the bracelet couldn’t be added to the black dial watch should you prefer to go in that direction.

The black strap has a red rubber lining (first introduced on the 300 SLR of 2010) as well as matching red stitching.

Caseback

Both watches feature a fixed steel caseback, another point of difference to the heritage Carrera which offers a sapphire case back.

On the Wrist

Given the case and bracelet are shared with several other Carrera models, there are no surprises with how this one wears. Yes, the case diameter is on the small side for a modern TAG Heuer (41mm when the Carrera Heuer 01 is 43 or 45mm), but it does wear larger than this given the depth/ height of the case. We’d love to see the case depth reduced by 10-20% to give a lighter feel, but the reality is that in most markets modern TAG Heuer buyers would probably rather this watch was larger rather than smaller.

We think the watch looks fantastic on the wrist and while it is styled towards the sporty side of life, there’s be no issue wearing this watch with a suit for daily office use.

Price and Availability

The 2018 Carrera Calibre 16 Ceramic bezel range starts at CHF4,200 (Swiss Francs) or US$4,350 for the black dial/ leather strap model, while the blue dial on a bracelet retails for CHF4,350/ US$4,500. To put this into context, the larger 43mm Carrera Day-Date is priced at US$4,800.

One of the benefits of using the Sellita-based Calibre 16 movement rather than the in-house Calibre 1887 is the cost advantage- when the 41mm Carrera 1887 was launched in 2010, it was priced at CHF3,900, only CHF300 less than a comparable watch more than eight years later.

Both watches are available now in TAG Heuer authorised dealers and boutiques globally.

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