Hands on Review- TAG Heuer Carrera Day Date Calibre 16

Since its release back in 2008, the Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16 has become one of the most popular watches in the TAG Heuer range: bigger, bolder and more intricately designed than most of the Carrera models, the Day-Date model is the Alpha Male of the Carrera pack.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Day-DateTAG Heuer offer the combination Day-Date feature on several Calibre 16 watches, (The Aquaracer and- in the past- the Link) but typically the only change between the two versions is the larger date window and additional functionality implied by the name. As someone who rarely uses the date function and never uses the day function (sure, I forget the date occasionally, but rarely which day of the week it is), it’s not the functionality of this watch that makes it interesting to me- it’s the design.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Day-Date White dialAnd the design of the Day-Date model is distinctly different to the Calibre 16 Date Carrera (below)- sure the case design is the same, but whether it be the chronograph pushers, the crown, the dial or the hands, almost every aspect of the design has been changed.

Instead of thinking of the Day-Date as being a Carrera Chronograph with a Day function, the best way to think of the watch is that it’s an affordable Carrera 360.


As you can see from the photo above, the watch borrows its looks from the 2006 Carrera Calibre 360, the limited edition range launched to showcase the Calibre 360 1/ 100th second movement.

Both watches use the over-size 43mm case- 2mm larger than the standard Carrera and a massive 20% larger than the 36mm Carrera re-edition from 1996. As well as having a larger case, both watches place the minute and seconds hash-marks on an angled inner-bezel, freeing up more room on the dial for the signature applied minute markers, set out in 5-minute increments. Look carefully and you’ll see that both watches also use the same small triangles on the inner bezel to mark each 5-minute increment.

The other design flourish borrowed from the Carrera 360 is the double-crown, a look that the Carrera 360 passed on to other watches in the TAG Heuer range, including the Grand Carrera and Monaco V4.

Design Overview

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Day-DateApart from the layout of the dial, the Date and Day-Date Carreras share almost nothing in terms of design. The Day-Date comes from what I’ll call the “Technical” period of TAG Heuer design. If the Carrera 1887 marked a return to simplicity, then this watch comes from the opposite school where there is an array of patterned surfaces, applied markers, printed text and colours.

The Day-Date is cut from the same cloth as watches like the Grand Carrera Calibre 36- the “more is more” approach.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Day-Date

Even simple features like the crown and the top Chronograph pusher have detailed finishes, with a black and red band respectively. The date window? An angled 3D window that increases the sense of depth.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Day-Date

Like other Carrera Chronograph models, the 12 and 6 o’clock sub-dials have a circular “Record” finish, while the 9 o’clock register is slightly recessed. The central chrono. hand and the 30-minute sub-dial hands have red tips, adding another splash of color to the dial.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Day-Date

Overall the design of the watch works very well- the additional detailed touches and applied markers give the watch a more 3D, premium look. The question for people looking to buy a Carrera will be whether they like this design, or prefer the more understated Date-only Chronograph.

I can see that some will find the watch “over-designed”- and there is no disputing that it’s a “busy” design, but it does have a place in the Carrera range. If you have the “elegant” 1887, the “vintage-styled” Heritage series and the “racing-style” Calibre 16 Chronograph, the Day-Date is a bolder, more modern design.


The Day-Date Carrera is available in three dial colours- white, black and brown. Each of these models comes with either a steel bracelet, or a leather crocodile strap (black leather for the white and black dial and brown leather for the brown dial).

The Brown and Black dial watches have an external tachy bezel that matches the dial colour, while the white dial watch gets a stainless steel bezel.

In addition to these standard models there have been a couple of special editions, such as the titanium model below that scores a titanium case and a carbon-fibre look dial and strap.

This watch was the basis for the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix Carrera, which replaces the Red highlights with Green and replaces the plain titanium bezel with a black bezel.


Like the rest of the Carrera Chronograph range, the Day-Date model uses the evergreen Calibre 16 (ETA 7750) movement.

Unlike other 2011/12 models in the Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph range, the Day-Date model retains the clear sapphire caseback.

On the Wrist

At 43mm, this is a large watch. It’s not so much the diameter that gives it this “over-size” feel, but more the depth of the watch. You can see that the Day-Date is slightly deeper than the Calibre S (above left).

There are other deep TAG Heuer cases that don’t feel top-heavy on the wrist and that’s because of the way those straps meet the case. Take the Monaco Twenty-Four for example- the strap fits flush inside the lugs and is re-enforced with a rubber section at the end of the strap. This means that the watch never really moves around on your wrist because the weight of the watch-head is spread across the top of the strap.

The Carrera strap does not sit flush with the case (as you can see below) and so the weight is not spread out as effectively, meaning that it can feel heavy on the wrist.

Still, this watch will be bought by people looking for a watch larger than the standard Carrera, so if you want a larger watch, it follows that the watch is going to be heavier on the wrist than a smaller diameter model.

Designing the Next Carrera Day-Date

If I was handed the crayons to design the next version, I’d make several changes aimed at simplifying the dial and making it a little smaller. I wouldn’t change the overall look and feel of the watch, because those already work well.

  1. Case: Drop the diameter from 43 to 42mm and reduce the height of the case to reduce weight
  2. Delete the minute hash-marks from the dial
  3. Delete the words “Chronograph” and “Automatic” from the dial
  4. Use a thinner Day-Date window
  5. Make the applied “05-60” numbers smaller
  6. To compensate for the smaller diameter case, use a thinner bezel and drop the tachy scale (as per Carrera 1887)
  7. Movement: Would be nice to use the Calibre 1887 instead of the Calibre 16

I think these changes are enough to keep the spirit of the design, but to make its appeal a little broader. Deleting the tachy scale? Controversial given that this is a Carrera, but given the breadth of the Carrera range today it doesn’t hurt to have some distinction between the various models.


The Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16 shows how the design of TAG Heuer’s flagship watches like the Carrera 360 eventually trickle down to more mainstream models- we’ve seen it with the Monaco V4 and hopefully there will be a mainstream Carrera soon that uses the design cues of the Mikrograph.

The Day-Date Carrera is not designed to appeal to everyone- that’s why there are so many models in the Carrera range. What the watch does give is a premium design that appeals to those looking for something bolder, larger and more modern than the standard Carrera Chronograph. I really like the overall design theme of the watch and it’s beautifully executed.

If you’ve ever wanted a Carrera 360, but don’t need to time events down to 1/ 100th of a second, then this one is just for you.

2013 Update

Carrera 43mm Ceramic 1887_20TAG Heuer has just announced a new version of the Carrera Day-Date- you can read the review here.

 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.



Singapore GP Edition: PuristsPro

  • Mark

    I think it could benefit from your changes David, but I would go further (which probably doesn’t come as that much of a surprise!). I’m not sure that it does look like a more modern design than the cleaner 1887 – it looks like one from a few years ago when the trend was for additive design (i.e. adding features to an existing watch). Even the watch world is beginning to catch onto what Jonathan Ives and his team have been doing with consumer electronics and we’ve seen some watches espousing more reductive design.

    So what could we take away from the Day/Date?

    1) I agree, but would shrink it a mm or 2 more. 41mm is big enough, 40 would be ok for me but this is a tall movement and we have to make sure it stays in proportion.
    2) Yes, that additive design process has made the dial busy, so the hashmarks and “Automatic Chronograph” can go.
    3) Whilst we’re at that, do we need to show water resistance on the dial? It’s a chrono, not a dive watch and the owner can read in the manual whether to take it for a swim or not. And the movement too. You can see the movement itself with its name on when you turn the watch over, do you need to be reminded of it on the dial every time you look at it? I vote no.
    4) I always think a printed TAG-Heuer looks better than an applied one. That’s what the clone makers tend to use, it’s more effort for them to set print dies up than just use a bunch of applied logos across different watches.
    5) Yes, the date window could do with being smaller. If anything the outside frame is too large, with too much taper on the white watch especially making it look heavy. Even painting the inside in dial colour would shrink the apparent size.
    6) Numerals every 10 mins rather than 5 frees up a lot of dial space and immediately reduces the busyness.
    7) Different sized registers isn’t something I’m fond of. It means the font differs between the perpetual seconds “register” and the other two, which makes 3 scripts for numbers as the applied ones are different again. Make them all the same size and follow the style through on the applied ones for visual consistency.
    8) I’m not keen on the rings around the registers. It says Rolex Daytona more than it ever will Heuer Carrera and makes the registers visually overweight on the dial. If you want to emphasise the registers, then look back in company history and go for contrast registers. They would look good as “pandas” and “reverse pandas”.

    There you go! I’ve changed it a bit more radically, but it’s a watch I would find nicer-looking. Mind you, after all that, I’d still prefer a 3-6-9 orientation and date window only, it’s not a watch aimed at me 🙂

  • Peter Davies

    I purchased one of these beautiful time pieces about 18 months ago, really love it, but have one major issue, 50% off the black inbeded into the numbers on the bezel has come away, making the watch look a bit shabby. I must send it back to Tag to replace the bezel. Any one else had a similar problem?

  • Sergio salas

    I purchased this watch about 3yrs ago. Love the design, the way it feels, everyhing about this watch!!!! It's a perfect TAG timepiece!!

  • Maria

    I like black colored dial. But alligator strap with a sporty look is not my cup of tea. I'd prefer something more simple and not so distracting.

  • Justin

    Have to agree with the changes you have suggested DC. Dial looks remarkably busy (regardless of the occasion) and has one too many un-required markings. If they are able to tone it down a notch, they are onto a winner – this was one on the shortlist for my next purchase but got dropped immediately after having it on my wrist.

    Tried one at the AD and discovered that the SS bracelet version doesn't sit 'quite right' due to the position of the lugs. There is a significant gap between where the lugs/bracelet joint to your wrist, which looked odd from my opinion.

    Furthermore, the brown dial variant (my personal preference of the lot), is only available on the brown leather strap, which put me off as it was very top heavy.

    DC – you'll probably be disturbed to find out my next watch (soon to be purchased) is not a Heuer…

  • DC

    Peter: That sounds very unusual. Yes, you can scratch or damage a bezel, but very unusual for a bezel to simply rub away. I would definitely take it to an AD to be checked/ replaced

    Mark, I agree on water resistance, but I kept that on the dial in “my” version simply because TAG seem to have it on every dial. Agree that it doesn’t add a lot of value. I am surprised about your comments on preferring printed dials- although agree that a poorly applied logo looks just as bad as a poorly printed dial. All we need to do now is find a photoshop expert to make these changes and then put it to the vote- sort of like “TAG Heuer Idol”

    Hi Justin. I wonder if that was a problem with the particular watch you were looking at, because I put a bracelet on this one and it fitted perfectly? You’ve bought another brand? Consider yourself banned from Calibre 11;)

    Thanks everyone for the comments


  • Mark

    It's all in the eye of the beholder, but TAG definitely seems to have gotten it into their heads that the applied logo is more "premium" than the printed logo. But to my eyes it looks cheaper. You don't see applied logos on Pateks or APs or the like.

    Maybe it's the equivalent to Rolex's coronet, only that for TAG-Heuer the logo is also the company name so you can't make just one applied without the other.

    For me, the only place it really works is in bi-colour on the F1. Everywhere else I would prefer to see the logo printed.

  • DC

    What I like about applied hour markers and logos is that it gives the dial a 3D feel- a printed dial can be too flat for me. It's one of the reasons that I love the dial on the Calibre 15 Monacos for example

    But it has to match the watch- on a dive watch, like the 1000 Series, I think printed dials are the way to go.


  • Stephen Jones

    Much better-looking than the Grand Carrera Cal 36 with the caliper. I wish they'd do something this classic (other than the Monza) with the Cal 36 movement.

  • DC

    Agree Stephen- would love to see the Calibre 36 in more watches.


  • Patrick

    I received this watch as a wedding present a few months ago and love it. It is my second Tag and mine has the white face with a black leather strap. I am currently looking to purchase a Brown leather strap and do not want to pay the $400+ for the authentic Tag band. Anyone have any other options? I found one on Ebay from the seller Watch4class for $70 and it looks identical although my measurements are off a just a couple MM (length/thickness) from the sizes they are posting although the lug width is correct. Thoughts? Thanks!

  • Muqtader

    I would like to know more about its Brand Value. Ofcourse it is a Fine Watch.

  • H.G.O.

    Hi, just bought the Tag Carrera Calibre 16 Auto – brown dial and strap, I love it. Surprised to find that you shouldn't adjust the day/date between 9 PM and 3 AM, only to discover after I've done that. Now the date only changes between 3 and 4 AM. Any one know how to fix that without having to send it to the AD?

    If that critical, should put a warning sticker somewhere on the watch before 1st use. Have a Rolex GMT-Master II and no similar issues!

    Thanks for the advise.

  • DC

    Hi H.G.O,

    Yes, you're right sadly- changing the date on any Valjoux/ ETA 7750 is not advised. The date itself changes over about a four hour period (9pm-3am buys a little wiggle room). The ratchet mechanism on the 7750 date is not spring loaded and so you can cause damage- I agree it should be made clear when you buy the watch/ clearly stated in the instruction book (not sure if it is/ isn't).

    The only thing you can do now is to take the watch back to get checked out- shame for a new watch, but better to be safe than sorry.



  • Tobie

    I am looking to purchase this beauty within the next 6 months. Just wondering what the USA $RRP is for this watch? I am currently in Australia and have been told by many people not to buy watches here (as like most things in Australia, they are a lot more expensive)

  • DC

    Hi Tobie,

    Not sure..I'm also in Australia. Take care of buying from a non-authorised dealer- cheaper up-front, but you won't get the official warranty.

    Add in shipping and GST..that will give you a true feel of the difference.


  • kuben

    I just purchased a TAG Carrera Calibre 16. I was using the stopwatch feature, and noticed that when I reset the. Stopwatch, the second needle springs back almost instantly to the zero position, in an anticlockwise movement. I have other watches that when reset, gradually returns in a clockwise movement to the zero position. Is this normal, or is there something wrong with the watch.

    Input would be appreciated, thanks.

    • Bobby

      That is normal, if the secondhand is less than 15 seconds it will go in the counterclockwise direction if it's more than 15 seconds it'll going to clockwise direction.

  • I purchased this watch recently and sometimes the red line (that counts the seconds) freezes is this normal? It sometimes freezes on its own but more so when I play around with it before its set? Is this normal or should I return the watch

  • I purchased this watch recently and sometimes the red line freezes is this normal? It sometimes freezes on its own but more so when I play around with it before its set? Is this normal or should I return the watch