Last Updated on March 14, 2021 by Calibre 11
The TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 is a watch of contradictions. It’s not a re-edition, but nor is it a new design. It might look like an Autavia, but in reality, it’s part of the extended Formula 1 family. And while we’ve had mechanical Formula 1 watches for several years, we’ve never had one with an in-house movement, nor one at this price point. It’s neither fish nor fowl.
But that’s exactly the sort of watch that you should be making if you’re going to involve the talents of Fragment Design A.K.A Hiroshi Fujiwara. While his first watch with TAG Heuer was well received, it did feel a little too safe for the Streetwear godfather, being essentially a facsimile of a 1960s Heuer Carrera, but with small, square lume plots rather than applied steel indices. It was a beautiful watch, but a conservative one.
This time we have room for more original design flourishes, with the end result being something quite unique in the long line of TAG Heuer heritage releases. We’re not sure whose idea it was for a bright red sapphire caseback, but if you needed any evidence that TAG Heuer was willing to try some new things with this watch, then you have your proof simply by flipping the watch over.
Since this watch was released there’s been a debate on whether this is a re-edition of the third-generation 1969 Autavia chronograph, or part of the Formula 1 family- and the answer is that it’s a little bit of both. When the Formula 1 range was redesigned in 2014, the new case was based on the 1969 Autavia, creating a nice link between one of the most famous vintage Heuer models as worn by Formula 1 drivers and the modern Formula 1 TAG Heuer series.
The Fragment Heuer 02 uses a 44mm case size, the same case as used in other Formula 1 automatic chronographs. This is one of those iconic Heuer/ TAG Heuer case designs, alongside the Carrera and Monaco, which will never be confused for any other watch, and it looks perfect here combined with the modern take on the Autavia dial.
Caseback and Movement
The back of the watch offers two surprises. The first is the red sapphire caseback that we referenced in the introduction. It looks fantastic and should become a signature of the Fragment X TAG Heuer series. In fact, we wished that the Fragment Carrera had the same bright red treatment as a contrast to its sober, monochrome dial.
The second surprise is the movement- the first time that TAG Heuer has fitted the Heuer 02 movement to the Formula 1 case, but we’d guess not the last time, given the cost of engineering a new case/ movement combination. The choice of the Heuer 02 was an inspired one, as it would have been very easy to simply use the standard Calibre 16 movement- but what makes the Fragment Heuer 02 special is the number of changes- including the movement- that set this model apart from the rest of the Formula 1 range.
It’s also worth noting that this is the second TAG Heuer model using the Heuer 02 movement to have only two-registers. There is no 6 o’clock register with running seconds, as you’ll find on the Monaco and Carrera watches using the same movement.
Bracelet- Ref. BA0641
The bespoke theme continued with the bracelet, with a unique design that is a modern twist on the vintage bracelet fitted to the Autavia and again a design that is only available on this watch. Like the new 2020 Monaco bracelet, this new bracelet uses a butterfly clasp and has alternate polished and brushed links.
For us, the defining feature of this watch is the dial- and it’s also the design element that we’re the least convinced about. The majority of TAG Heuer’s dials use a combination of flat surfaces, sunken sub-dials with patterned finishes, angled internal bezels and applied indexes and logos. Why? To give the dial a sense of depth. The Fragment Formula 1 goes in the other direction and looks entirely flat. Looks rather than is, because the two registers are slightly sunken, but because of the inky opaline black colour and lack of the usual azurage circular patterning, from many angles you don’t see this distinction. If this was meant to be an Autavia re-edition, then you might have expected to see the sub-dials in a contrasting white colour- but that was never the objective.
And before leaving those Autavia comparisons, we should note other heritage-laced elements, such as the red-tipped minute and hour hands and the tachymeter bezel.
Even after a week on the wrist, we’re still undecided whether the dial is what makes the watch or lets the design down. At the right angle, the white and red elements of the dial seem to almost float on top of the dial, as you can see in the photos above. The downside? It can almost feel like a high-resolution digital dial that you might find on the Connected smartwatch.
Because it’s so different to the typical TAG Heuer design, some days we wished for more depth to the dial to make it look more finished…more high-end..more traditional. But maybe this would simply turn the watch back into a traditional re-edition, rather than giving the watch the modern twist that is the very reason for working with Fragment Design in the first place.
On the Wrist
OK, enough about the dial- what about the rest of the watch? It doesn’t feel overly large, despite the 44mm block case and sits quite flush on the wrist, meaning it never feels top-heavy. It does feel heavier than a typical Formula 1 Chronograph, thanks to the additional weight of the mechanical movement compared to the usual quartz.
Despite the fact that we’re sitting on the fence on the design merits of the dial, the TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Formula 1 is exactly the type of watch that makes sense for this collaboration- a classic Heuer design, but with modern distinctive touches via then pen of Fujiwara-san. We love the bright red sapphire caseback, and while the watch is priced well beyond any other Formula 1 model, the number of distinct design and feature upgrades made this feel like its own watch, not just an improved entry-level TAG Heuer. We have no problem this watch being priced alongside the Carrera Heuer 02 and Monaco watches.
While the watch is a limited edition of only 500, there are still a few available from TAG Heuer retailers if you ask around, but the watch is no longer available on tagheuer.com.
TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Specifications
|Model Name||TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02|
|Year of Launch||2020|
|Production Type||Limited Edition of 500|
|Watch Reference Number||CAZ201A|
|Strap Reference Code||BA0641|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Movement||Calibre Heuer 02|