Hands on Review- TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm

Perhaps the least interesting aspect of the new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 43mm is the most obvious: yes, the watch is 2mm larger in diameter than the standard (41mm) Carrera 1887 that we’ve come to know and love, but the new “plus-size” model is far more than just a larger version of what’s come before.

TAG Heuer has taken the opportunity to create a distinctly new member of the Carrera family that combines the larger case with an open, elegant design that brings together elements of the 41mm Carrera 1887 (Version 2) and the Carrera Heritage series.

While the majority of the Carrera range emphasises the sporting credentials of the series, the new Carrera 43mm is firmly tilted towards the luxury/ elegance part of the market. Tachymeter? No. Rose Gold detailing? Plenty.

We’ve shown you the official photos of the 43mm Carrera 1887 back in March, and can now bring you the first review based on these pre-production watches.


The 43mm Carrera has a clean, simple design that brings together the elements from other Carrera models. Regular readers will recall that the Carrera 1887 on sale today is actually the third version of the watch, with the second version (“V2”) being the first commercial version of  the Carrera 1887 that was available in selected markets for a few months.

As you see above, the V2 Carrera 1887 41mm has no tachy scale/ bezel and a flat 9 o’clock sub-dial that blended in with the rest of the dial.The V3 Carrera 1887 41mm on sale today (below) added a metal frame to the 12 and 6 o’clock registers, a recessed 9 o’clock sub-dial and a tachy scale to the inner bezel.

So think of the Carrera 43mm 1887 as having the same “stripped back” dial as the V2 Carrera but with added lashings of Rose Gold- as you can see below. In addition to the Rose Gold coloured numerals, the watch hands and the running seconds hand are also Rose Gold (plated) on the Silver dial model, while all the sub-dial hands are Rose Gold on the Black dial model.

The final element of the new design is the use of Arabic numerals to mark out the hours rather than the usual markers. TAG Heuer introduced this design with the 2011 Carrera Heritage series, although as you can see from the photo below (Carrera Heritage Calibre 16 Chronograph), the font has changed and the numerals are printed rather than applied, but the thinking behind the look is the same.

The use of the large Arabic numerals is both a design flourish and a necessity. Given the diameter of the Calibre 1887 movement, the position of the registers is fixed, meaning that without the larger numerals, the dial may have appeared too “empty”. The prominent Gold numbers draws your eye outwards and gives the dial a nice visual balance.

Given that I rate the V2  as the most attractive of the 41mm Carrera 1887s, it’s great to see the “old” design brought back. The Rose Gold detailing is a nice change from the usual Carrera look, and it does achieve the goal of creating a watch that is more luxury than it is sports. The end result is a very classy Chronograph, albeit one that does look very similar to the IWC Portuguese one of the best looking luxury Chronographs on the market.

Silver Dial- CAR2012

Opening the range is the Silver (well, it’s officially “Silver”, but most people would call it “White”) dial 1887 that is available with either a Black or Tan strap. The watch you see here actually has a Tan strap, with the new Tan colour used by TAG Heuer being a few shades darker than previously used.

The Silver dial is my favourite of the new range because the colours all work well together- Silver steel case, “White” dial, Rose Gold detailing and a rich Tan strap.

Given the light background the Rose Gold doesn’t stand out too much and is a nice detail that you notice rather than being overtly flashy.

Black Dial- CAR2014

The second dial option for the 43mm Carrera is a Black dial, shown here with a Black Alligator strap. While the Rose Gold works in a low-key way with the Silver dial, it really pops on the Black dial. And if you think that it looks “more Gold” than the other models, then you’d be right- all the hands on the Back dial model are Rose Gold, rather than the Rose Gold/ Black combination of the other dial colours.

I’d like to see the Black dial offered with a Chocolate-brown strap as a second option, although most will opt for the Black-on-Black combination.

 Anthracite Dial- CAR2013

As regular readers will know, Anthracite seems to be the colour for 2012. We reviewed the Carrera Rose Gold Anthracite last week and came to the conclusion that Rose Gold and Anthracite was not our preferred colour combination.

And despite having a stainless steel case, nothing has changed here- the dial itself is beautifully finished with a sun-burst effect, but I feel it would work better with Silver highlights on a Steel bracelet.

Movement- Calibre 1887

The 43mm Carrera uses TAG Heuer’s Calibre 1887 movement, which is made in-house by TAG Heuer. Key components of the Calibre 1887 are made by TAG’s wholly owned subsidiary Cortech in Cornol (Switzerland), before being sent across to TAG Heuer HQ at La Chaux de Fonds where the various parts are assembled by hand.

As a reminder, the Calibre 1887 is a Chronograph movement with three registers laid out in a “12-6-9” format. The registers have the following functions:

  • 12 o’clock register: Chronograph minutes (30 mins)
  • 6 o’clock register: Chronograph hours (12 hours)
  • 9 o’clock: Running seconds (time)

On the Wrist

The common consensus seems to be that the trend towards larger-diameter watches seems to have peaked, and if anything the 2012 designs from most brands have started to come down in size. The 43mm Carrera is one of the larger Chronographs offered by TAG Heuer and certainly has a strong presence on the wrist.

Despite the size, I didn’t find the 43mm 1887 to be too large- in fact, the watch didn’t feel as large as other “XL” Carreras, such as the Day-Date Calibre 16.

Changing between the 41mm and 43mm models, I have to say that if anything the 41mm felt small having worn the larger model, rather than the 43mm feeling too large. Still, as always it’s something that will come down to personal preference, and it’s certainly worth heading down to a TAG Heuer AD to try both if you are considering either size.

Price & Availability- TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 43mm

The TAG Heuer 43mm Carrera 1887 in both Silver and Black has already arrived in some markets and will be available in remaining countries over the next few weeks.

The Anthracite model is not due until later this year (September/ October) and will only be available from TAG Heuer boutiques, making it a more niche combination than the other two dial colours.

The price of the watch in Switzerland is expected to be CHF5,500, about a 1,000 Franc (just over USD1000) premium over the 41mm model.

In Summary

The 43mm Carrera 1887 is a an important addition to the Carrera range and one the bridges the gap between the Carrera sports line and the more premium Grand Carrera series. Yes, the case, pushers and overall design are very similar to the 41mm Carrera 1887, but I feel that the changes made create a distinctive model and one that you can instantly differentiate from its smaller brother.

As well as being distinctive, it’s a great looking watch. Yes, it has similarities with the Portuguese, but it’s still a Carrera. A Silver dial on the Tan strap would certainly be my choice- one classy Chronograph. It joins the Jack Heuer 80th Birthday Carrera and the Rose Gold/ Silver dial Carrera 1887 as my favourites of the current TAG Heuer Carrera range.

Want to find out more about the history of the TAG Heuer Carrera? Check out the dedicated Calibre 11 Carrera mini-site to see all ten generations of the Carrera from 1963-2013.