Last Updated on September 15, 2020 by Calibre 11
Five years ago, we saw the introduction of the first modular Carrera- the Carrera Heuer 01, which took the oversized, skeleton-dial look popularised by Hublot’s Big Bang and applied it to TAG Heuer’s flagship chronograph. While the Biver Carrera has always divided collectors, there was another important Carrera model launched in 2015 that was met with instant acclaim and ensured that the Carrera would continue to pay homage to its glorious past as much as it would be tilted towards the avant garde future- the Calibre 18 Telemeter.
The Telemeter was the first “Glassbox” model, combining classic looks with a modest 39mm steel case and a raised sapphire crystal that evoked the 1960s style plexi crystals. And while the Skeleton watches have been shuffled to the side of today’s Carrera collection, the glassbox design has been elevated to centre stage this year with two limited edition heritage models- the 160 Years Silver Edition and the 160 Years Montreal Edition
Like the 2015 Carrera Telemeter, the two 160 Years Limited Editions use essentially the same 39mm steel case- the interior dimensions of the case have been modified to accommodate the different movement- and the same glassbox crystal, but this time with TAG Heuer’s flagship inhouse movement, the Heuer 02.
Both watches have been enthusiastically received since their launch earlier this year, so it was only right that we got the LE duo together to line them up side-by-side and answer the obvious question: if you could only choose one, which one would be it be?
Carrera 160 Years Silver Edition- Ref. CBK221B
The Silver Edition was launched at the start of the year in Dubai and was an instant hit, effectively being a re-edition of the one of the most famous Carrera models, the 2447S. Simple, classic and true to its heritage.
The case is just about perfect at 39mm. Yes, this is 3mm larger than the original 1960s Carrera, but for a “modern vintage” watch, this is the right size in our view. It’s the purity and simplicity of the case that reminds you why the Carrera is still so loved after almost 60 years. Elegant, simple lugs with just the right amount of definition, similarly simple round chronograph pushers and that raised glassbox crystal. It may not be cutting edge, it may not be made from carbon composite or ceramic, but this is a classic chronograph that will look as good in 60 years as it does today.
The caseback is really all about the movement, the TAG Heuer Calibre Heuer 02, a thoroughly modern, vertical clutch integrated chronograph movement with an impressive 80 hour power reserve. What is unique to the new duo is the bespoke rotor, which carries the chequered flag 160 Years branding. The design evokes an old-school racing car steering wheel, to remind us that the Carrera was born with motor racing in mind.
The strap is an alligator leather, which is a surprising choice, given that similar sporty Carrera Chronographs of late have been paired with a rallye-style calfskin strap. Still, it’s a good-looking strap, perfectly teamed with a folding clasp with the polished Heuer logo.
Just as the case is the perfect size, the dial is also perfect, well perfect with one reservation. What set the original Carrera apart was the legibility and clarity of the dial, and those values come to the fore on the Silver Edition. No superfluous text, no un-needed design flourishes: it’s perfect in its simplicity.
The shade of silver chosen is beautiful. While the Calibre 18 Glassbox was a gold-hued silver, on this occasion TAG Heuer chose a stunning white-silver with a starburst metallic finish.
Regular readers will already know what our reservation is: the beige lume, which is used to mimic the colour that the original tritium lume would turn after a few years of use. This coloured lume is used on the hands and on the small lume plots sitting behind each hour marker. Everything else on this watch is so authentic, that adding “fake ageing” to the lume is a minor finishing touch that we would have avoided. Simple, white lume would have been a better choice, and owners could then let the years take care of the rest.
On the Wrist
Given our comments on this watch having the perfect case size, it’s probably no surprise that we also think that the watch feels on the wrist. If you’re looking for areas to improve, it wouldn’t hurt to trim a few millimetres from the 14.7mm case thickness, but it’s a light watch (85g), so it never feels bulky.
And while the silver is a conservative and subdued colour choice, it just looks fantastic on the wrist. This watch will go with everything and look perfect with a suit or with jeans.
Carrera Montreal Edition- Ref. CBK221C
While the Silver Edition is a faithful reproduction of the historic 2447S Carrera, the Montreal edition is actually a mashup of two historic Heuer chronographs- the bright, colourful dial of the 1970s Heuer Montreal and the case of the 1960s Carrera. It’s not a re-edition, but nor is the Montreal something entirely new.
The case of the Montreal edition is exactly the same as the Silver Edition, so all of our comments on that watch also apply here. Likewise, from the rear the two watches are identical, including the same Heuer 02 movement and same rotor.
Adding to the common components, the strap on the Montreal is the same as the Alligator strap on the Silver Edition, but this time it’s blue rather than black.
What makes the Montreal edition unique is the dial- and there’s a lot of colours going on here- red, blue and yellow. But let’s start with the white, which is a nice period-correct flat white dial. Rather than this white base stretching across the entire dial, there is a blue ring on the outer-edge of the dial, which houses the lume pips. The same blue is used for the three registers, giving the dial a bold, overtly sporty look compared with the subdued silver of the sister chronograph.
The minuterie track has red markings on a white background, other than the first 15-minute segment which is in blue. This mirrors the look of the vintage Montreal, where this was used as a Pulsometer scale– it was the right call not to add Pulsometer markings to the dial, as it would have cluttered the watch’s dial.
And finally, we have the 3 yellow segments on the 3 o’clock register (another 1970s Heuer design hallmark) and the yellow lume. And yes, our comments on the lume of the Silver Edition carry over to the Montreal Edition: the watch would look better with standard white lume.
On the Wrist
What we like about the Montreal on the wrist is that it offers collectors a distinct choice- the understated silver dial or the very cool, sporty coloured dial of the Montreal. TAG Heuer has launched dozens of silver dial Carrera chronographs over the last ~60 years, but there has never been a Carrera like this.
The Montreal still looks vintage and is still very much a Carrera, but this is the watch to choose if you want your Carrera to stand out from the crowd
Let’s go back to our original question: if we could only choose one of the 160 Years Carreras, which one would it be? In short, we’d choose the Silver Edition, because that dial will look perfect day after day and with whatever you’re wearing.
The Montreal is the more exciting, bolder choice and when we initially saw photos of both earlier this year, we expected that this would be the one that would pull at heartstrings more. And in a way it does- it’s the rarer of the two (1,000 examples rather than the 1,860 of the silver edition) and the more unique, but we know that the silver will be a watch that we could wear daily and never get sick of looking at that beautiful dial.
That we have two heritage 39mm Carreras to choose from is hopefully a sign that the new TAG Heuer management team will continue to offer modern Carreras that pay homage to the glorious past- 1960s looks with 2020 reliability and movements. That sounds like a perfect combination to us.
TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Heuer 02 Collection- Specifications
|Model Name||TAG Heuer Carrera 160th Anniversary Heuer 02|
|Year of Launch||2020|
|Production Type||Limited Edition|
– 1,860 (Silver)
– 1,000 (Montreal)
|Watch Reference Number||– CBK211B |
|Strap Reference Code||– FC6479 (Black) |
– FC6488 (Blue)
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Movement||Calibre Heuer 02|