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The Ultimate Modern Carrera? In Depth Carrera Nanograph Review (Ref. CAR5A8K)

It’s been more than four years since TAG Heuer surprised the watch world by showing off the Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon in 2015. Based on the (at the time) still-born Calibre CH80, the Heuer02T debuted at an amazing price for a tourbillon: US$15,000. And while we’ve seen many iterations of the watch over that time, the 2019 Carrera Nanograph feels like the ultimate version of what we can look back on as Jean-Claude’s Biver’s signature Carrera.

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The Nanograph makes full use of the modular nature of the Carrera case to offer both titanium and carbon components, but it’s the movement that makes this watch the best of the Carrera tourbillon family.

The Case from Every Angle

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The Nanograph has the larger Carrera skeleton case, meaning a 45mm fine-brushed titanium centre case, blackened with titanium-carbide. The lugs, or horns on the case are a lovely mottled carbon, as is the fixed bezel.

Providing a contrast to the blackness of the case and bezel are bright yellow highlights on the centre case and the upper chronograph pusher. Those with eagle eyes will also notice that the end-pieces that sit between the lugs are also a new design.

Dial Plate

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Well, we’ll call it a dial, but it’s more of a semi-skeleton plate that adorns the face of the Nanograph- not quite the full Skeleton dial of the Carrera Heuer 01, but with a similar technical look.

The difference with this watch is the honeycomb pattern on the dial plate, used to signify the use of carbon in the hairspring, as carbon has a molecular structure of a hexagon with carbon atoms at each corner.

The tourbillon itself takes over the 6 o’clock sub-dial, meaning the chronograph is reduced to two registers, with the running seconds feature of the standard Calibre Heuer 02 deleted.

The yellow highlights from the case also make their way to the dial, with yellow tips on the two sub-dial hands and central chronograph hand and the tourbillon.

Caseback and Movement

The first thing you’ll notice when you peer through the sapphire caseback is the newly-designed hexagonal-pattern oscillator. The column wheel is the same bright yellow as the rest of the watch, a change from the standard red.

What you won’t see is the new carbon hairspring. The benefit of making the regulating hairspring from carbon rather than metal alloy is that its resistant to the impact of gravity or shock and its anti-magnetic properties. The movement is COSC-rated (i.e. it’s a Chronometer).

You can read more about TAG Heuer’s carbon-composite hairspring in our exclusive interview with TAG Heuer’s Guy Semon here.

Rubber/ Leather Strap (Ref. FT6172)

We’ve always loved the strap offered on the Carrera Heuer 02T, which is a rubber strap with a calfskin leather outer layer, resplendent with bright yellow stitching.

Now rubber may not seem like what you’d traditionally expect on a $25,000 watch, but as Patek Philippe Aquanaut owners will tell you, it’s still possible to get a luxurious look and feel from rubber. The rubber used on these straps are much softer than the rubber straps you’ll find on other TAG Heuer’s, so not only does it feel great on the wrist, but it’s also highly practical when worn in the hotter months.

The clasp on the deployant strap is a made from titanium, but with an outer carbon-cap. Overall, the strap design fits harmoniously with the case design, carrying over the key material and colours.

On the Wrist

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If you’re a fan of the modern Carrera (by which we mean the 43/ 45mm Skeleton dial family), then this is the ultimate incarnation. The black on black look is perfect for a modern watch, with the yellow giving a sporting look.

At 45mm it won’t surprise you to read that this is a large watch. It doesn’t just slip under the cuff of most shirts, but if you’re into watches larger than 41mm, then you’ll be aware that this is the price that must be paid for the modern, oversized chronographs (think Hublot or AP’s Royal Oak Offshore family)

Price and Availability- Carrera Heuer 02 Nanograph

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The 2019 TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Nanograph is priced at US$25,500, and for that price you also get a watch winder box specifically designed for the Nanograph. As always, we like to give a relativity to pricing, and in this case the equivalent Titanium/ Carbon lugs Carrera Heuer 02T (CAR5A8W) is US$18,050, while the “standard” titanium version is US$17,000 (CAR5A8Y). Then there’s the blue Tête de Vipère model at US$20,400.

But neither of these models has the carbon Nanograph hairspring, which explains the premium for the Nanograph and is what sets the watch apart. Even putting that tech to one side, we also think that this is the best-looking of the Carrera Heuer 02T family, combining a modern “full black” look with bright yellow highlights that are reminiscent of Aston Martin’s trademark bright lime battle colours.

Whether the Carrera Heuer 02T continues to be developed under the new TAG Heuer team is not yet clear, but if you are in the market for TAG Heuer’s Carrera Tourbillon, then this is the one to choose.

TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02T Nanograph Specifications (Ref. CAR5A8K)

Model NameTAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02T Nanograph
Year of Launch2019
Production TypeLimited Edition of 500
Watch Reference NumberCAR5A8K
Strap Reference CodeFT6172
Case MaterialTitanium centre case/ Carbon horns
Case Diameter45mm
Water Resistance100m
MovementHeuer 02 Tourbillon

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