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TAG Heuer Carrera Elegant Chronograph 42mm Heuer 02- In Depth Review (Ref. CBN2010, CBN2011, CBN2012)

Last Updated on September 17, 2020 by Calibre 11

While the 160 Years Limited Edition Carreras may have stolen many of the headlines this year, the most important new Carrera launches are without doubt the 44mm Carrera Sport Chronograph back in July and this watch- the new 42mm Carrera Elegant Chronograph series. Like its sportier sister, the new Carrera uses the in-house Heuer 02 movement, the new dial design language and the revised case style. But what is new is the return to the classic Carrera looks- no external bezel and an elegant, beautifully simple dial.

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TAG Heuer Carrera- Ref. CBN2011.BA0642

There are four watches in the new range- stainless steel models with a blue, black or anthracite dial and a stainless steel model with rose gold dial highlights and a silver dial. And we’ll be talking about dials quite a lot in this review, because the dials on the new Carrera series are perhaps the most beautiful that TAG Heuer has produced in recent years.

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TAG Heuer Carrera- Ref. CBN2010.BA0642

We borrowed the three stainless steel watches for this in-depth review of the new Carrera Elegant series that along with the Carrera Sport series will be the main models in the Carrera range for years to come.

Design

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As any fan of the vintage Carrera will tell you, the classic Carrera has three key attributes- it’s modestly sized, it has a simple, highly legible dial and finally, it doesn’t have an external bezel. Back in the 1960s, it was the Autavia range that had an external bezel- not the Carrera. This changed in 2005 when TAG Heuer launched the first Carrera with an external bezel, and some 15 years later, the external bezel is a common feature of many Carrera models.

From a design perspective, the Carrera Elegant series follows the style of the Carrera 1887, the 41mm Chronograph launched in 2010. When the Calibre 1887 movement was phased out in 2018, TAG Heuer replaced this watch with a Calibre 16 Carrera, also in a 41mm case with the same 12-6-9 layout. You can see the similarities between the 2018 Carrera Calibre 16 and the new Carrera Elegant Heuer 02 below.

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2018 Carrera Calibre 16 vs. 2020 Carrera Elegant Calibre Heuer 02

We asked TAG Heuer Creative Director Guy Bove for the thinking behind the new design:

The Carrera Elegant takes its inspiration from the first Heuer Carrera of 1963, however entirely recreated using modern proportions and design language. Its DNA will play a large role in future Carreras and indeed it already guided the design of the Sport collection.

Guy Bove- TAG Heuer Creative Director

But while the Elegant series takes its inspiration from past Carreras, this is an all-new case with an eye on the future.

Case

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The Newcomer shares the same basic case design as the Carrera Sport, but in a smaller 42mm diameter. What this means is a case that keeps the traditional Carrera look, but with re-profiled lugs that flow around the case and a slimmer, re-profiled mid-section.

The result is a case with thickness of 14.4mm, meaningfully less than the outgoing watch, which was 15.9mm. The 160 Years Silver and Montreal editions are 14.7mm, despite being 39mm diameter cases.

The reduced thickness makes the 1mm increase in diameter easier to accept- but yes, it would have been even better if TAG Heuer had held the case dimensions at 41mm, but we can live with the increase, which really isn’t noticeable on the wrist.

The chronograph pushers and crown are also new and a different design to those featured on the Carrera Sport and a nice improvement on those found on the Calibre 16 Carrera that this new watch replaces.

Dial

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While the Carrera Sport introduced a circular brushed pattern to the dial, the Elegant series uses two styles of dial- two sunray dials and two opaline dials. The blue and anthracite dials are a return to TAG Heuer’s classic “sunray” dials, made by ArteCad, the TAG Heuer-owned dial manufacturer. It’s worth saying again: these are perhaps the most beautiful dials that we can remember from TAG Heuer.

The black and silver dial models use glossy opaline dials, adding a different look to the sunray duo, and working especially well on the silver dial which is complemented by rose gold (plated) detailing on the dial.

Like the Carrera Sport, the Elegant uses the newly designed hour-markers and a new serif font for the Carrera printed script on the dial, which evolves the classic Carrera font of the 1960s.

While the watch has three registers, in the usual Heuer 02 “3-6-9” positions- it follows the Monaco Heuer 02 in having prominent 9 and 3 0’clock registers, but no defined register at 6 o’clock for the sweeping seconds. Instead, there is the crosshair pattern, again inspired by Heuer’s dials of the 1970s. The effect of this is that the watch looks like it has two registers, with the third only becoming apparent on close inspection. We asked Guy Bove about this choice and why not simply have three registers of the same look and size.

The crosshair was used quite frequently in Heuer times so it is fully in line with our DNA and it also serves to reduce attention on the running second while keeping it present for those who want to check precision/ running. In contrast with our Sport collection, we wanted to highlight the bi-compax look here and go to a more dashboard-style look for the Sport collection with three subdials.

Guy Bove- TAG Heuer Creative Director

Finally, we have the hands, which are the same style as the Carrera Sports series.

All up, these dials look fantastic- still a Carrera, but with enough detailed touches to set the new series from the previous series. We’ll again bore regular readers by pointing that that these dials would look even better with only two registers, dropping the sweeping seconds hand, but we’re sure that marketing would have something to say about a watch that didn’t have any obvious moving hand.

Bracelet- Ref. BA0642

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A nice surprise with the new series is the new bracelet- essentially, a more refined, slimmer version of the existing H-Link bracelet. Again, we asked Guy Bove to tell us the story of the new bracelet:

The bracelet is still an H-design but for the Elegant collection we created a more seamless flow between strap and case and between the strap links to highlight the case itself and the dial, whereas the Sport has a more technical look and a thicker strap to highlight its sense of power. This logic will continue.

Guy Bove- TAG Heuer Creative Director

The bracelet feels good on the wrist- lighter than the H-Link bracelet and arguably more comfortable. The bracelet has a double-push clasp (see below) and a nice combination of brushed and polished surfaces.

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Caseback

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No surprises that there is a sapphire caseback at the back of the watch, but what does set the new series apart is the Gold coloured rotor used across each model in the Elegant range. It’s a nice idea to give this watch a unique look and help distinguish this model from others in the Carrera series.

Carrera Elegant Chronograph Black Dial- Ref. CBN2010

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The range starts with the classic black dial- in many ways, this is the most conservative of of the dial options, but it’s still a classic. What we like about this dial is the surface contrast of the patterned sub-dials with the deep black of the dial- solid black dials can sometimes hide the details, but that’s not the case here.

On the Wrist

Carrera Elegant Chronograph Blue Dial- Ref. CBN2011

While blue-dial watches have been all the rage over the last five years, TAG Heuer continues to “do blue” better than most. There’s a fantastic depth to the blue colour, which works beautifully with the silver finishing on the dial and case.

While there is no blue leather strap option (yet) for this watch, we think it would look more sporty on a calfskin strap.

On the Wrist

Carrera Elegant Chronograph Anthracite Dial- Ref. CBN2012

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The anthracite dial was a surprise- we think it’s the best-looking of the new series, and while we wouldn’t have picked Anthracite and Brown as being an attractive colour combination, this watch looks perfect on the chosen alligator strap.

The angle of the light changes the dial from a deep grey to a bright silver, and looks wonderful on the wrist. While blue, red and green dials are very much in fashion today, we like that TAG Heuer kept the green dial exclusively for the Carrera Sports series and chose the more classical anthracite for the Elegant series.

On the Wrist

Carrera Elegant Chronograph Silver Dial- Ref. CBN2013

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TAG Heuer Carrera, Ref. CBN2013.FC6483

The fourth model in the range is the only one that we didn’t review in person. This model combines a silver opaline dial with rose gold (plated) indices, hands and applied TAG Heuer logo. Like the Anthracite dial this model comes standard with a brown alligator strap with a folding deployant clasp.

While the “bi-metal” look has often involved adding gold details to the crown or pushers, we think that this watch is all the better for sticking with a full stainless steel case and instead limiting the gold highlights to the dial.

Summary

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For those of us who love the classic Carrera look and feel, the new Carrera Elegant series is a wonderful addition to the Carrera range. Over the last few years the expansion of the Carrera name has seen the model name applied to large, skeleton watches (The Heuer 01), high-end haute horlogerie chronographs (Carrera Mikrograph) and used as the basis for the Connected watch. But the Elegant series is a true Carrera, in the sense that it carries the same values of the 1963 original. And while the Carrera Sport will appeal to the avant garde buyers, the Carrera Elegant is one for those who appreciate those original Carrera values- a smaller case (albeit 42mm is hardly petite), beautiful, legible dials, a contemporary, quality chronograph movement, and yet still with a sporting bent.

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Together with the Carrera Sport, TAG Heuer has done a fantastic job refreshing the Carrera range, combining a return to the traditional values of the Carrera range, and adding in TAG Heuer’s own in-house movements for good measure. And for collectors who love the original vintage Carrera, there is no longer the need to wait for a re-edition to find a watch in the current collection that maintains the values of the past in a thoroughly modern package.

The new series is priced as US$5,350 for the black, blue and anthracite dial models (black and blue on a bracelet; anthracite on a leather strap), while the silver-dial watch with rose gold highlights is US$5,500, meaning that all models are a few hundred dollars less than the larger Carrera Sports range.

TAG Heuer Carrera Elegant Chronograph 42 mm Calibre Heuer 02- Specifications

Model NameTAG Heuer Carrera Elegant Chronograph 42 mm
Year of Launch2020
Production TypeStandard Production
Watch Reference Number– CBN2010 (Black Dial)
– CBN2011 (Blue Dial)
– CBN2012 (Anthracite Dial)
– CBN2013 (Silver Dial)
Strap Reference Code– BA0642 (Bracelet)
– FC6483 (Brown Leather)
Case MaterialStainless Steel
Case Diameter42mm
Water Resistance100m
MovementCalibre Heuer 02

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