It’s not easy to celebrate a milestone anniversary in the midst of a global pandemic, but Tag Heuer is forging ahead with a new take on its classic Carrera lineup to celebrate its 160th anniversary. The chronograph models not only received exterior design updates, but they also come equipped with the watchmaker’s in-house manufacture Caliber Heuer 02 movement, which features 80 hours of power reserve, a column wheel and vertical clutch. The new 42 mm watches were roughly two years in the works and were slated to debut at the now-defunct Baselworld watch fair this March. And while all big events that were slated for the release of the new Carrera had to be canceled, it should still catch the eye of collectors in the market for a reasonably priced classic watch with a spruced-up engine under the hood.
“We wanted to come with a strong message,” Frédéric Arnault, Tag Heuer’s newly minted CEO and son of LVMH head honcho Bernard Arnault, told Robb Report. “Carrera is the leading line for the brand and is the most iconic historical collection. It made sense for us to continue to invest in this product and also elevate the look and feel.”
Despite the fact that the 28-year-old was only recently appointed CEO this June, he had already been working for Tag Heuer for some time prior to his high-profile ascension to the top. Arnault says he was very hands-on in the design and development of the new pieces. Key improvements that were important to him include the newly chamfered lugs—a technical design tweak that wasn’t possible in the original 1962 version. He wanted to keep the pushers round, but added more noticeable caps. And the chronograph counters have been finished in an “Azurage” decoration with concentric circles in a brushed finishing that he says adds an interesting light reflection. Notably, the date has been positioned at 6 o’clock—something he plans to incorporate in other collections going forward and which was already a feature on the Carrera Chronograph Sport launched in July.
The overall design is something Arnault is betting on to attract customers that want a more traditional looking timepiece, instead of edgier or sportier modern designs. “We have other watches for that,” he says. And one would suspect that its classic look plays to his own personal tastes as well, given that one of his favorite personal Tag Heuer timepieces is a vintage-inspired 39 mm Carrera Tag Heuer “Blue Dreamer” done in collaboration with men’s style publication The Rake and the watch trade publication Revolution, both owned by watch collector Wei Koh. He also chose the current sunray-brushed blue dial Carrera on a steel bracelet as his personal daily wear.
The new lineup also includes an opaline black dial on a steel bracelet (both bracelets have been slimmed down for an improved feel on the wrist), a silver dial with rose-gold plated hands on a brown alligator leather strap and a handsome anthracite dial version, also on a brown leather strap. Each has a sapphire crystal caseback allowing for a view of the 168-component Heuer 02 movement with a rose-gold oscillator.
All models are priced at $5,350 with the exception of the silver dial with rose-gold plated hands which retails for $5,550.