Review: Tag Heuer Carrera - How It Raced Into Iconic Status

Some of the world’s older; more prestigious watchmakers have earned a place in scientific history by making innovations that are now integral elements of modern horology. One such company is Switzerland’s Tag Heuer, creator of the first stem-wound watch, the first auto dash clock and the first chronometer-quality wristwatch.

Like many respected watchmakers, Tag Heuer has had a partnership with the auto racing industry from the sport’s beginnings. Their precision timepieces have enjoyed immense popularity with racing drivers since the early 20th century, early examples being the Autavia, the Monte Carlo and the Master Time watches. In 1964, the company took this association one step further by introducing the Carrera line in honor of Juan Manuel Fangio’s victory in the Carrera Panamerica Mexico Race.

The Carrera remains one of the company’s most popular watches. It now exists in many models including 2010’s Calibre 1887 Chronograph, winner of the Best Watch of the Year Award at the 2010 Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Geneve.

The present-day Tag Heuer Carrera is made in both uncomplicated and chronograph models. It comes in ladies’, midsize and full-size models. The basic design is a clean, round dial with a case tapering into curved connector lugs and a bracelet of either stitched leather or metal links.

Timing functions are expressed in various ways on the different Carrera models. Some have separate sub-dials for 1/10th second and 1/100th second with the main dial of the watch used as the chronograph counter. Other models are dual-dial or triple-dial chronographs. The Carrera Automatic Chronograph Day/Date has full triple-dial arrangement with day and date window on the right side of the dial.

The latest model of this outstanding watch has the full assortment of features: automatic movement, triple-dial chronograph and a day-and-date window. A 30-minute sub-dial is at the top of the face, the small second dial is to the left and the 12-hour dial is at the bottom. The dial is marked in five-second increments to allow it to be used as another minute timer. There is a tachymeter bezel allowing the calculation of the rate of speed from time elapsed, always a popular feature with racing enthusiasts.

The handsome styling of Tag Heuer shines in every detail of this timepiece. The tachymeter bezel and face are black with large white markings for easy visibility. The seconds scale around the edge of the dial is marked in quarter-second increments for precise timing. The stainless steel case curves into sleek, tapered lugs connected to a metal link bracelet. The watch has an air of competence, efficiency and style.

The crowning achievement of the Carrera line is the Tag Heuer Grand Carrera. This magnificent watch has a countup scale, a power reserve gauge, 1/10th-second chronograph, and a rotating system allowing easy reading of the data. Low, angled chronograph buttons permit quick switching for greater accuracy.

The Carrera series in still being produced, so future models can be expected. This historic watch still has new things to show the world.