TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02 44

The word icon is thrown around way too often for comfort, in my opinion. But, like it or not, every brand has them within its history. The definition of the word — a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol — lessens its grandiosity and clearly makes it the perfect descriptive term for the TAG Heuer Carrera, a model which has, alongside other iconic pieces from the brand (such as the Monaco) defined the company’s character for decades. Now it’s time for the latest chapter of this icon’s history to be written with the release of the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 44 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic Watch.

Updating icons is a tricky task. You cannot deviate too much from the script. This is not the place for ad-libbing. Changes must be considered. Additions must be worthwhile. Contradictions should, at all costs, be avoided. Perhaps the safest way to make changes to a classic is to simply make it “better” in ways that could barely be imagined to rankle even the hardest core of fan. Functional upgrades, more refined finishing, more resilient materials, for example. These are things that it is hard to moan about, provided they do not sacrifice the charm and aesthetic approachability of the original (a good example of that is when brands “upgrade” Plexiglass to sapphire).

Heuer is celebrating its 160th anniversary. What an unfortunate year for such a milestone! At least it isn’t a rounder number like 150 or 175… We have some time to plan for that party, at least. To mark the commencement of the brand’s 17th decade, the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 44 mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic has hit the shelves in four striking colorways.

For traditionalists, there are black or blue configurations. For those that like a little bit of luxury in their timepieces, an edgy black and rose gold number makes its bow. And for anyone chasing the unobtainable Hulk, there is a new kid on the block looking to command your greenbacks. Of the four, I must say the verdant variant is my favorite. This is somewhat surprising to me as that shade of green is not something I’ve ever looked for in a watch, but there is something about the way it hangs together with the overall design that I like. I think it benefits from a bit of restraint. The silver bezel was a smart touch.

Anyone that loves TAG Heuer (and, more importantly, Heuer before TAG) also loves Jack Heuer. Jack’s leadership made the brand what it would become. The models released during his stewardship are the yardsticks against which everything since has been measured.

The Carrera’s story began in 1962. At that time Jack Heuer became aware of the storied Carrera Panamericana race. The word Carrera, Spanish for “road”, “race”, “career” and “course”, inspired him to create a new timepiece based on this exhilarating event. One year later, in 1963, the Carrera model rolled out of the Heuer factory and began its journey.

Nowadays, it is easy to dismiss the Carrera’s impact. So many copycat models exist, the design has become a blueprint for racing chronographs around the world. But at the time it was one of very few watches designed for such a purpose. Its codes were far more distinct than they appear today. But then, that is exactly why it has been so frequently copied.

This selection of novelties marks the mid-point of TAG Heuer’s release calendar for 2020. We can expect four more novelties to follow in September and another two special editions to drop before the year is out. It is fitting that the Carrera, a model so central to the brand’s heyday successes of the ’60s and ’70s, should feature so prominently in this year’s plan.

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