At the beginning of 2017 TAG Heuer gave us a (slightly) smaller version of the popular 45mm Carrera Heuer-01 Skeleton dial, shaving a modest 2mm from the case diameter to give us the 43mm Carrera Heuer-01 collection. The star of that range is the ceramic model, which combines the looks of the original 2015 Carrera Heuer-01 with the matte ceramic finish of the 2016 ceramic model (Ref. CAR2090).
Let’s start this review with the conclusion: if you are going to buy a skeleton dial Heuer-01 (as against the other 43mm model which has a traditional dial and is our favourite), then this is the one to choose. The matte ceramic is the best of the materials offered in the range, and the 43mm size isn’t too big. While the 45mm dial has a stealth finish, the red highlights on the smaller model stand out nicely in a traditional TAG Heuer colour combination. Not too stealthy, not too big and not too shiny- this is the Goldilocks Carrera, being “just right”.
The Goldilocks Carrera- Just Right
The newest Carrera combines the matte ceramic case of Ref. CAR2A91 with the size and dial from the 43mm Ref. CAR201V, both of which were launched earlier in 2017. There are two versions of the ceramic 45mm model- one with a polished, shiny finish (CAR2A90) and other with the matte finish shown above left. As we said in our review of the former, the polished case looks amazing when it’s clean, but it will show every fingerprint and smudge, unlike the matte finish.
And while the two 45mm ceramic watches have a stealth dial finish, devoid of any colour whatsoever, the 43mm brings a few splashes of red that pop beautifully on the midnight black case.
Look familiar? It should- this is the same “dial” as offered on the original Carrera Heuer-01 back in 2015, so there are no surprises here. If anything, we think that the skeleton dial works better on the black background of the ceramic case than the steel and titanium case of the original, but if you like one, you’ll like the other.
So given that the dial is familiar, it’s the case that is the real change here- and it both looks and feels fantastic. The new Carrera uses a 43mm version of the now-familiar Carrera Heuer-01 design, with its 12-piece modular case. The case, lugs and bezel are made from matte ceramic, while the crown and chronograph pushers are steel coated in titanium carbide.
The inner box section and case back are also made from stainless steel to ensure water resistance.
Many of the Carrera Heuer-01 models have a contrasting middle case and lugs (e.g. blackened titanium and steel), but we like the models which have a uniform finish and colour, like this ceramic Carrera. It’s a cleaner look and one that we suspect will age better than the bi-metal look.
In a perfect world, the smaller Heuer-01 Carrera would have been 41mm rather than 43mm, if only to offer a more significant difference to the larger 45mm case. Even though we’re only talking about a 2mm diameter difference (43mm vs. 45mm), you do notice the smaller size of the new Carrera, but it’s a subtle change. A 41mm case would have provided a greater contrast, although the problem here would likely be that a smaller case would not be able to use as many common components as the 45mm size Heuer-01.
While the bracelet itself is not new- it debuted earlier this year- the 43mm model has a new end-piece design that differ from the square and flat end pieces on the 45mm model. As you can see below, the end pieces are a more natural extension of the link and overall brings a more integrated and elegant look than that offered on other Carrera Heuer-01 bracelets.
Caseback and Movement
On the Wrist
Price and Availability- Carrera Heuer-01 Ceramic 43mm CAR2090
The 2017 Carrera Ceramic 43mm is priced at CHF5,900 (Swiss Francs) on the bracelet, which is the same price as the 45mm ceramic models. There is a small premium of CHF150 for the bracelet over the rubber strap model.
Expect the watch to be in stores from September this year.
We love the balance of this Carrera, bringing together the best of the original 45mm model, with a lightweight matte case and the smaller case size- just right.