Last week we reviewed the leading (some say bleeding) edge TAG Heuer Connected. A watch which makes a tentative first stride to cross from the traditional Swiss watchmaking into the new genre of a wearable computer. Today, we focus back on the what is a classic TAG Heuer offering: a chronograph worthy of its heritage. We take a close look at the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01.
Note: photographs on this review, except for one (no watermark as it is supplied by TAG Heuer) is of the prototype, and feature the TAG Heuer logo on the underside of the sapphire crystal, and the date window at 3 o’clock. Final version will be with the logo on the dial, and the date in a white aperture at 4 o’clock.
A brief history: TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer was founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer in St-Imier, Switzerland. The company started operations as began as Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG. In 1985 the TAG Group, who had interests in business aviation, motorsports, hospitality, consumer products and real estate, purchased a majority stake in the company, forming TAG Heuer. In 1999 French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH made a friendly takeover offer and bought out nearly 100 percent of the Swiss company.
Within LVMH Watches: who is what
The name TAG Heuer combines an abbreviation for Techniques d’Avant Garde and the founder’s surname Heuer. Currently under the LVMH umbrella, it comes under the leadership of Jean-Claude Biver, who also personally assumes the role as CEO of TAG Heuer. The LVMH Watchmaking Division comprises of TAG Heuer, Zenith and Hublot. And it is Jean-Claude’s strategy to restructure each of the brands to specific markets.
“Hublot has a very clear message: “The Art of Fusion,” bringing together tradition and innovation,” Jean-Claude said, “A brand that will not repeat the past, but respect the past in connection with the future. It’s a brand that promotes innovation, as innovation is more powerful than knowledge.”
Jean-Claude’s vision for Zenith watches is classic,. “Zenith is a very traditional brand and a hidden diamond that we have to (cut and polish) for its light to shine. It’s a phenomenal brand, but totally unexplored. It has to come back to life and we will start to work on this in the second half of the year (2015). I like the challenge of taking on a brand. For Zenith, I just need to give it new dynamics.”
On the other hand, TAG Heuer is the fresh, trendy brand for the hip customer. “By contrast, TAG Heuer is a young, dynamic brand that stands for design, technology and avant-gardism,”
With this background, we begin our analysis of the Heuer 01 Chronograph, the first watch with the JCB touch, so to speak. A touch which revived Blancpain, boosted Omega, re-invented Hublot, and now to re-imagine TAG Heuer.
TAG Heure Carrera Heuer 01
At first look, it is a beautiful timepiece. Mildly reminiscent of the Hublot aesthetics of the open worked dial, clever use of red accents to highlight the markers and hands, and the use of what seems like layered materials for the case.
Layered in black and white, the aesthetics resembles that of a Hublot watch. This is perhaps intentional, and points to the aspirational intentions of TAG Heuer. But unlike in a Hublot, the case elements are all stainless steel with brushed finishing, and parts in black brushed finished and coated with titanium-carbide to create the layered look. Other observers have remarked the resemblance to Richard Mille watches as well, but we see the design as quite characteristic of TAG Heuer, though perhaps a departure from the more sedate tones and lines of the classical Carrera design.
We find the dial to be quite exceptional in the layering effect of the design. This gives visual interest to the dial, and the play of colors are also well chosen and nicely executed..
The Caliber Heuer 01
Interestingly, TAG says this is a new caliber (Heuer 01) while, simultaneously, also communicates that the Heuer 01 is actually based on the caliber 1887. The Calibre 1887 is a standard TAG chronograph movement used in many of the brand’s watches. The 1887 is itself a modified Seiko 6S37 chronograph. TAG Heuer acquired the rights to manufacture the movement and have been doing so with some major updates since 2009.
The differences between the Calibre 01 and the Calibre 1887 are minimal. The rotor is redesigned and coated in black, the column wheel marked in red (and not blued like in the 1887) and a different chronograph bridge is used. The movement seems to be similar in all other respects, and certainly the same functionally.
To recap, the chronograph features a column wheel, and an automatic winding mechanism with a power reserve of 50 hours, but which is reduced to 40 hours with the chronograph operating. The movement beats at 28,800 bph.
Movement finishing is rather standard: a good engineering finish covering all the bases, but no elaborate finishing to improve aesthetics, and make no attempts to adhere to traditional haute horologie finnasage.
The watch measures some 45mm in diameter, and some commentators have remarked that it wears large. But on this author’s wrists, it is rather comfortable. The lugs seem to wrap around the curvature of the wrists, and the watch stays snug and comfortable.
For an automatic column wheel chronograph at a retail price of S$7,800, we think it represents good value. The design is decidedly avant garde, as TAG Heuer has intended it to be, and very handsomely executed. The build is a very high engineering quality fit and finish, though not at the exalted levels of haute horlogerie. Editor’s note: I would want one if I were just starting my working life, and looking for a nice watch to buy with my first paycheck. As a matter of fact, I did buy a TAG Heuer with my first paycheck in 1988.
Specifications TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01
FUNCTIONS & FEATURES
– Black skeleton dial with 3 counters:
chronograph minute at 12 o’clock with silver azurage ring
chronograph hour at 6 o’clock with silver azurage ring
running second at 9 o’clock with black azurage ring
– Hand-applied polished and fine brushed indexes with white and red luminescent markers
– Visible skeleton date disc with date window at 3:30 o’clock
– Skeleton black movement top plate
– Polished and sand-blasted hour and minute hands with luminescent markers
– Red chronographs hands
– Polished running second hand
– White ”CARRERA HEUER 01”, ”CHRONOGRAPH” and red ”AUTOMATIC lettering on the dial
– Black perforated rubber strap
– Black titanium carbide coated titanium folding clasp with safety push buttons
– Case diameter: 45mm
– Modular steel case with alternate finishings:
Polished and fine brushed steel lugs with fine brushed black titanium carbide coated end-piece
Fine brushed black titanium carbide coated steel middle case
Fine brushed black titanium carbide coated steel bezel with grey tachymeter scale
Fine brushed black titanium carbide coated steel sapphire case-back
– Scratch-resistant curved sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment and white TAG Heuer logo
– Steel and rubber fluted crown
– Water resistance: 100 meters
CALIBRE HEUER 01
Calibre Heuer 01 TAG Heuer. Swiss made.
Diameter: 29.3 mm (13”’) 39 rubies
Rapid date correction
Balance frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz)
Power reserve of the movement: 50 hours;
Power reserve with chronograph operating: 40 hours.
Hours minutes small seconds at 9.
Chronograph minute subdial at 12,
Hour subdial at 6
Date at 3.
Oscillating mass: “Côtes de Genève”
Decoration and black treatment
“CAL. HEUER 01 SWISS MADE” engraving.
Red column wheel.