Ever seen a TAG Heuer Vanquish? Most people have not heard of the Vanquish, let alone seen one.
The Vanquish is an ultra-rare production version of the Carrera Calibre 360 Concept introduced at Basel in 2005. Today it’s almost taken for granted that TAG Heuer will put into production the concept watches that it shows, but back in 2005 few thought this watch would ever see the light of day.
Note the similarities between the clean outer-bezel and today’s Carrrera 1887, or the numbering on the dial that is used by today’s Carrera Day-Date, or the “Double-crown” used on the Grand Carrera series. The first time that we saw any of these design flourishes was on the Carrera 360 Concept.
Carrera 360 Concept
Think of the Carrera Calibre 360 (below) as the father of today’s Mikrograph movement- this was the first mechanical movement capable of 1/100th second accuracy.
At the heart of the concept watch was the Calibre 360, which was a TAG Heuer developed Chronograph module mated to an ETA base (TAG Heuer Calibre 7) movement. Like today’s Mikrograph, the balance wheel of the Calibre 360 beats at 360,000 beats per hour (hence the name), but from a single assortment.
The Chronograph movement has to be manually wound, and has a power reserve of 100 minutes. This was done through the Crown, which turned clockwise to wind the Chrono movement, or anti-clockwise to wind the watch movement.
But before TAG Heuer released the 2006 version production series of the Carrera 360 they made a very special production run of the Calibre 360 Chronograph- called the Vanquish.
TAG Heuer Vanquish- Ref. CV5080
The Vanquish was the production version of the Carrera 360 Concept made in a limited edition of 12 watches. As you can see, the only real difference between the concept watch and the production version is the name on the dial.
The case was 41mm (small by today’s standards) and made in Grade 5 titanium (Ti5) that was developed in conjunction with McLaren. Because Ti5 is 90% titanium (with 6% aluminium and 4% of something exotic called vanadium), the case can be polished, something you can’t do with other grades of Titanium cases.
The watch also introduced a new style of Case-back- the “Double window” that is used by today’s Grand Carrera. Notice many similarities between the watch and the Grand Carrera? Perhaps that’s why the name “Vanquish” was originally intended for what we now know as the Grand Carrera until a change was made late in the GC’s development.
So while the Vanquish itself is not that well-known, there is a lot about the watch that will look familiar to today’s TAG Heuer owner.
Overall, I like the design, but the metal bridge on the dial is a little jarring the watch doesn’t need it and while its supposed to look technical, to me it looks like an unnecessary touch. And to once again show how influential the Vanquish was, you can see a small version of this “bridge” on the Grand Carrera Calibre 36.
So, think of the Vanquish as being a rare oddity in today’s TAG Heuer range as well as a watch that signalled the company’s intent- not just the new design direction that was being developed, but perhaps more importantly the strong desire to reclaim the brand’s reputation as an innovative watchmaker.
I’ve only ever seen one example of the Vanquish for sale- this watch was was sold in 2009 by Montres-Moderne. While the sale price had been removed, you can read TAG Heuer CEO Jean Christophe Babin’s comments on the prices of these watches in the comments section below.
Photos: Montres Modernes et de Collections