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60 years of the TAG Heuer Carrera: A new chapter

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Earlier this spring, at Watches and Wonders 2023 in Geneva, TAG Heuer celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Carrera Chronograph, one of its flagship models. The company also took the opportunity to introduce two new models: the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph and the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon. One of these models was recently seen on the wrist of popular actor Ryan Gosling in the short film The Chase for Carrera, and there is reason to believe that they will become must-haves from the Swiss watchmaker.

The birth of an historical model

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Photo: TAG Heuer

The history of this TAG Heuer Carrera is legendary and begins in the early 1960s. Young Jack Heuer, newly promoted to CEO of the family business, went to the famous 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida to watch a race timed by Heuer. He met Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez and their young sons, who were racing drivers at the time. They told him about a race taking place in their native country, Mexico. Known as the Carrera Panamericana, this extremely fast and dangerous road race was held five times in the early 1950s. 

This inspired the young Heuer to launch the Heuer Carrera watch in 1963. The design was carefully thought out to reflect the philosophy of the young CEO. This modern and inventive chronograph continues to tell stories to this day, focusing on utility and functionality above all. It features a clear and readable design with no superfluous elements to distract the user. It was notably Mr. Heuer’s idea to place the tachymeter scale on the tension ring, an innovative device unique to the Carrera which was used to hold the glass in place and protect the watch from dust and water.

60 years of the TAG Heuer Carrera: The spirit of 1963, a design for all sizes

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Photo: TAG Heuer

Just in time for the watch’s 60th anniversary, designers and watchmakers have reworked and improved its design to prepare it for a seventh decade. This update started with the stainless steel case. At 39mm in diameter, the overall ergonomics have been refined to make it as comfortable as possible to wear for all wrist sizes.

Upon closer inspection, we can also notice that the chronograph retains the spirit of the original edition by combining elements that might seem contradictory at first glance. For example, the watch’s silhouette is fluid thanks to the curved edges of the domed yet angular sapphire crystal. The case, on the other hand, features steep sides and robust, futuristic lugs. As such, this model acts as a sequel to a previously presented collection of TAG Heuer Carrera Tourbillon pieces with larger and sportier case designs. 

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Tourbillon close up
Photo: TAG Heuer

As for the TAG Heuer Tourbillon itself, it follows the same design principles and basic shape as the Carrera model. However, its dial is enhanced by an opening at six o’clock and is designed to reveal the tourbillon. Developed more than 200 years ago, the tourbillon is a continually rotating cage that surrounds the escapement and counteracts the influence of gravity on the precision of a mechanical movement. To this day, few watchmakers have mastered this complex mechanism. TAG Heuer is part of the select group to have achieved this remarkable feat.

An essential

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Photo: TAG Heuer

Finally, the beauty of the design lies in its pureness, efficiency and simplicity. So much so that the TAG Heuer Carrera remains a must-have for watch lovers and collectors after more than 60 years of existence. It is truly an icon for the brand and an incredible success story.

A perfect watch for driving a Porsche – a Carrera – like Ryan Gosling in the short film I mentioned earlier. 

Article originally published in Gentologie Issue 11.

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