So picture the scene: Lockdown easing and general freedom being returned. Felix and I were actually sat in a very pleasant pub in Crouch Hill.
It is mildly overcast but warm. The lager is cold and under £5 a pint. The banter and good cheer is spreading like a virus…
The next morning I peel myself out of bed to see that Tag Heuer had released a new Carrera. Initial excitement builds upon seeing a black dial, lateral, three register chrono with a matching ceramic bezel.
On closer inspection, I can see the very high level of finishing and beveling on the lugs and case that modern TAG has become criminally underappreciated for. I then am not too surprised to find this is consistent with the very sharp, sleek execution of the bracelet.
The very angular cuts of steel, minimal space between links and expertly balanced combination of brushed and polished finishes give the bracelet that very streamline, very modern, aesthetic that you see on the likes of the new Omega Constellation, new Omega Seamaster and even the Bulgari Octo Finissimo (Is there enough double letters in that?).
Then, for the icing on the cake, what do I see on the dial? Heuer 02 80 Hours. Shamelessly brandished on the bottom of the dial. That means that finally, we are getting a standard line Heuer Carrera with the in-house Heuer movement with 80 heuers power reserve.
Obviously a few years ago TAG brought out the new Heuer Carrera skeleton dial-Hublot-looking thing with the in-house movement but all the other standard Carrera models that had been gradually evolving since the late 60s still had modular movement. (Any nerd would agree the 1887 movement doesn’t count).
So with all this beaming positivity, where is my lingering resentment and subsequent disappointment? As is frequently the case with modern pieces, and especially those in the mid-tier price bracket, the case size is just such a turn off. Sitting at 44mm diameter and who knows how thick, this piece would be like wearing a very good looking kitchen appliance around on your wrist. When going to a meeting it would enter the room before you like a beautiful yet big, loud Labrador that jumps up and slobbers all over your boss.
Wearing it to a nice restaurant or bar would be like taking that super hot yet obnoxiously drunk and loud Essex girl to dinner with your parents. Wearing it to the pool or beach would be like going to a quiet spa with your good looking rugby mate who’s 6’8 and decides to cannonball into the tranquil 2ft deep salt baths.
The new TAG Heuer Carrera is a 95% finished product. It’s all there. Great timeless dial design, well used modern finishing and materials, a great practical in house movement but at the final hurdle, this piece falls hard in a big way. Like leading in the 100m men’s running final only to trip over in the last ten meters, losing your shorts, exposing your arse to the world then finally shitting yourself. But, in all seriousness, I appreciate that the case size is down to accommodating the in-house movement which over time will get smaller as JCB’s barmy army finds a way to execute all the fantastic features of the movement in a smaller more efficient case size.
In the world of watches, exceptionally intelligent watchmakers and designers work tirelessly to create more innovative and impressive timepieces for idiots like me, who don’t really know what they’re talking about, to criticize the smallest details. But, unfortunately, in the CASE of this watch, it isn’t THAT SMALL. I do however greatly look forward to the next iterations of this exceptionally timeless piece, where the positives are carried into a more contemporary case size.
44mm case size
Steel models come with complementary ceramic bezels in a black dial, blue dial or a green dial with a steel bezel. All of which come on the steel strap. There is also a black dial bimetal option that comes on a leather strap.
Heuer 02 automatic chronograph movement.
RRP for the steel models are £4,700 and the bimetal option is £5,300