60 Years of the Iconic TAG Heuer Carrera

For the 60th anniversary of its eternally modern TAG Heuer Carrera timepiece, TAG Heuer introduces two exceptional new models inspired by the collector favorite “glassbox” design.

Date March 30, 2023
Brand TAG Heuer
Author Sincere Watch

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At Watches and Wonders Geneva 2023, TAG Heuer is proud to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a global icon: the TAG Heuer Carrera. For six decades, the Swiss watchmaker’s timeless model has defined performance watch design, racing spirit, and the culture of success.

Since its introduction in 1963, the TAG Heuer Carrera has become a symbol of aspiration, achievement, and good taste. Across six decades, it has appeared on the wrists of icons of cool – from Mick Jagger to James Hunt to Ryan Gosling. Always the same stylish profile, backed by Swiss mechanics and refinement.

For the TAG Heuer Carrera’s 60th anniversary, TAG Heuer is pleased to introduce two new models: the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph and TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon, both of which promise to become keystone designs in the company’s collection of contemporary watches

Racing start: How an icon was born

The story of the TAG Heuer Carrera has become a legend. It began in the early 1960s when a young Jack Heuer, freshly installed as the company’s chief executive, went to 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida, a race timed by Heuer. There he met Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez, whose young sons were already on the path to becoming successful racing drivers.

They told him about a race in their home country of Mexico called the Carrera Panamericana, a furiously fast and extremely dangerous road race that ran on five occasions in the early 1950s before it was cancelled.

Jack, who had an uncommon knack for harnessing the power of a good story, was intrigued by the speed, emotion, and romance of the race, and decided that it would make a good name for one of his new lines of wristwatch chronographs.

Carrera was a word with multiple meanings and could be translated as “race,” “career,” or simply “path.” This, Jack decided, was the perfect name for a watch with a racing spirit aimed at a young, stylish, upwardly mobile generation in tune with the increasingly liberated tastes of the 1960s.

Jack was a production engineer with a specialty in electrical engineering, having studied at the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He was culturally curious too, and had developed an interest in the work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and the furniture designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and had even saved up to buy an Eames lounge chair for his dorm room. In the work of these two icons, he saw a compelling marriage of modernism, function, beauty, and the ability to create a signature style. All this would be carried over into the watch designs that he oversaw – and into the Heuer Carrera.

In 1963, the Heuer Carrera made its debut. This was a carefully thought-out design and a clear expression of Jack’s philosophy. On the one hand, it was a tool, created to be useful and functional, so its design was clean and legible, without any extraneous elements that would distract the wearer’s eye. On the other, it was also modern and inventive. It was Jack’s idea, for example, to push the tachymeter scale onto the tension ring – an innovative device proprietary to the Carrera that was used to hold the crystal in place and protect the watch from dust and water.

The purity and simple effectiveness of the design also made it beautiful, so much so that across six decades, the TAG Heuer Carrera has become a perennial favorite among watch buyers and collectors, an industry icon, and an incredible success story. Jack’s inspired vision is still in place – and still as potent as it was 60 years ago.
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A new timeless classic: Introducing the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph

To time with the TAG Heuer Carrera’s 60th anniversary, TAG Heuer’s designers and watchmakers have reworked and improved its form, readying it for its seventh decade of service.

This starts with the stainless-steel case. Measuring 39 mm in diameter, it has a universal quality, while the overall ergonomics have been honed and refined, making the watch as comfortable to wear as possible, even across a range of wrist sizes.

The case is topped with a sapphire crystal shaped liked the domed hesalite crystals found on Heuer Carrera models from the 1970s, only now, the crystal has been redeveloped so that the curve flows seamlessly over the tachymeter scale that runs around the dial edge and into the case. In the same way, the flange and indexes have been curved, too, further contributing to the watch’s seamless aesthetic, coherence, and legibility. In keeping with Jack’s original purpose for the watch, this development is more than aesthetic – it also means the tachymeter can be read from a wider range of angles.

Equally pronounced are the new pushers, which have been shaped and positioned to make them as efficient for the user as possible. At its heart, the TAG Heuer Carrera remains an extremely refined watch, designed for purpose and defined both by its function and its form.

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At launch, there are two models: one with a signature blue dial on a blue calfskin leather strap, and a second with a racier, black-and-silver “reverse panda” dial, the nickname given to black watch dials with high-contrast white or silver subdials. The reverse panda model is a greatest hits compilation of some of the most coveted Heuer Carreras of the 1960s, such as the reference 3147 Dato 12, the first Heuer Carrera with chronograph and calendar functions, and the reference 2447 NS, perhaps the rarest Heuer Carrera of them all, with an extremely limited production run of just a few years. It comes on a black perforated calfskin leather strap.

Both new models continue the TAG Heuer Carrera’s legacy of cool with a fresh, highly memorable look.

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Moving with the times: The Calibre Heuer 02 continues to evolve

Inside both iterations of the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph is an evolved version of TAG Heuer’s in-house automatic chronograph caliber, the Heuer 02.

Named TH20-00 and visible through the watch’s sapphire crystal case back, the next-generation movement now features an oscillating weight offering bidirectional winding, whereas previous versions only charged the movement’s mainspring if the rotor moved in a counter-clockwise direction.

This evolution, overseen by TAG Heuer’s Movements Director Carole Forestier, is more significant than it may initially appear. In daily use, it delivers faster and
more reliable winding, ensuring the watch is running closer to its maximum 80-hour power reserve and improving precision for more of the time it is in use. TH20-00 also has elevated finishings, thereby conforming to TAG Heuer’s vision to create technical yet elegant watches and movements. It joins the TAG Heuer TH30-00 and TH50-00 calibers in the new series of movements.

The two watches offer two expressions of the same evergreen philosophy. The blue model is inspired by modernity, whereas the black-and-silver model picks up more strongly on the TAG Heuer Carrera’s racing pedigree. Subtle differences in the application of the subdial scales help achieve this, as does the position of the date: at 6 o’clock on the blue, and pushed up to 12 o’clock on the black-and-silver model to make the chronograph readout as clean as possible.

TAG Heuer is so confident in the advanced mechanics behind these watches that it is offering a five-year warranty on both new models.

Harmony in contradiction: How the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph marries opposites

A closer look reveals that the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph continues the spirit of the 1963 original, combining considerations that at first seem to contradict one another.

For example, viewed in cross-section, the watch’s silhouette is fluid thanks to the seamlessly curved edges of the domed sapphire crystal, yet also angular due to the case’s taut flanks and muscular, avant-garde lugs.

How does it do this? TAG Heuer’s designers worked to balance brushed and polished surfaces next to one another, so that the watch’s visual impact is both velvety and assured. At the same time, carefully applied finishes to those angled edges mean they feel smooth to the touch. The effect is startling: An ergonomic yet strident design that is precise yet refined, technical yet elegant. Jack’s vision continued.

Calming the whirlwind: Meet the first “glassbox” TAG Heuer Carrera with a tourbillon

TAG Heuer is also delighted to announce the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon. This elegant new model serves as a sister watch to a collection of previously introduced TAG Heuer Carrera tourbillon pieces with larger, sportier case designs. The new watch follows the same design principles and shares a base form with the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph, only it has a dial elevated by an aperture at 6 o’clock that reveals a tourbillon cage.

First perfected more than 200 years ago, a tourbillon is a continuously rotating cage that surrounds the escapement and is designed to counteract the influences of gravity on the accuracy of a mechanical movement. Even today, few watchmakers have mastered its complex form. TAG Heuer is among an elite group of manufacturers to have done so.

The new watch is powered by TAG Heuer’s in-house tourbillon movement, the TH20-09. The chronometer-certified automatic movement also has a chronograph function and is backed by a 65-hour power reserve. Every element of the watch has been refined to reflect the mechanical beauty of the tourbillon. For example, thanks to the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon’s curved sapphire crystal and fluid form, the tourbillon’s beauty can now be observed from a wider range of angles. And, on the dial, the flange and indexes have been subtly curved to mirror and complement the crystal’s edge, enhancing the watch’s elegant feel.

Further details help elevate the watch’s overall look and readability. The deep azuré subdials are surrounded by high-contrast silver rings, making the chronograph read- outs as legible as possible. In the same way, the minutes scale running around the outside edge of the dial is punctuated by fiery orange detailing over each hour marker. A final, almost nostalgic touch is the chronograph’s central seconds hand, which has a crisp, triangular shape inspired by 1960s racecar dashboard instruments.

As with the TH20-00, the TH20-09 was created by TAG Heuer Movements Director Carole Forestier and the Swiss watchmaker’s technical teams, so that it now delivers bidirectional winding, increased efficiency and accuracy, and a higher level of finishing. It comes with a five- year warranty.

Even with such refined detailing, the watch is arguably characterized most by its stylish, timeless color palette: stainless steel for the 42-mm case, a signature TAG Heuer Carrera blue dial with a circular brushed finish, and a blue calfskin leather strap. A sapphire case back showcases the TH20-09 and completes the drama.

A path into the future: the new TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox models carry the legend forward

TAG Heuer’s designers and watchmakers have developed these new collection pieces in such a way that they witness the TAG Heuer Carrera’s past and yet also describe its future. The legacy of Jack Heuer’s original design is clearly evident in these TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox watches: they are timeless yet modern, precise yet refined, elegant yet technical, ergonomic yet striking, and functional yet beautiful. They are, in short, timeless modern icons.

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