Last year at Baselworld in 2013, TAG Heuer released a new Carrera housing its in-house caliber 1887 named the Jack Heuer Edition. I missed it. Admittedly, I was generally unimpressed with TAG Heuer throughout the past decade or so, and it wasn’t until this year at Basel 2014 that the Carrera CH80 caused me to revisit my opinion of the brand. I’m convinced now that my indifference toward TAG Heuer lasted a few years longer than it should have. Its Mikrogirder 2000 concept watch debuted in 2012 is probably where I should have started paying attention, if not sooner.
The goal of the Mikrogirder was to produce a design that married a traditional stopwatch with updated looks of the Carrera while, of course, flexing some horological muscle. It featured a chronograph movement that could measure elapsed time as precisely as 1/2,000th of a second, and the motor was housed in a two-part case that looked like a stopwatch had been placed into an asymmetrical outer case and then attached to a leather strap. This meant the watch had a “bullhead” design where the crown and pushers were on the top of the case instead of the right side. At 47mm, this was a big watch, but it was cool because it seemed like a stopwatch was sort of standing up on the wrist.
In 2013, TAG Heuer released the Jack Heuer Edition of the Carrera that featured the same two-part case design made out of titanium with an inner stopwatch case nestled into a hollowed out, girder outer case. A little smaller than the Mikrogirder, the Jack Heuer Edition comes in at 45mm and, considering it’s fashioned out of titanium, it’s light on the wrist and much more of a practical wear. The profile of the case is a view you don’t get tired of. The stopwatch case, coated in black titanium carbide-covered, rests at an angle within the girder case, allowing you a partial view of the surface of the inner case and improving the viewing angle when you flick your wrist to read the time. Turn the watch over to see the caliber 1887 through the display case back. Printed on the sapphire crystal is the Heuer family crest and Jack Heuer’s signature.
The dial is equally interesting, featuring an inner and outer dial much like the case design. Around the perimeter where the applied hour markers live is the outer anthracite ring. The inner dial is a light silver sunray pattern that bulges at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions where it houses the minutes and hours totalizers respectively. These registers are the same color as the outer dial and their hands are accented with red, matching the central stopwatch seconds hand and identifying themselves as chronograph registers. At 6 o’clock is an unmarked register for the running seconds, the pinion of the seconds hand just above the borderless but beveled date aperture, which counterbalances the applied TAG Heuer logo on the opposite side of the dial beneath the 12 o’clock index. As I usually feel, I could have done without the date, but it’s symmetrically positioned and the angled beveling of the window makes for a smoother transition from dial to date wheel, so I don’t find it that disruptive. All of this is protected by a domed, anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
Behind the dial is TAG Heuer’s caliber 1887, which has been used in a few chronographs prior to this one. Normally the 1887 doesn’t allow for a tri-compax dial arrangement, but achieving the bullhead design essentially requires rotating the movement counterclockwise, thereby rendering the 9-6-3 register layout. It’s a 39-jewel automatic movement with a column-wheel chronograph and a 50-hour power reserve. Fitted to the watch is a black alligator strap lined with red rubber, a sporty but discrete splash of color that gives the wearer the type of private satisfaction one gets from the bold lining of a sportcoat. The Carrera Jack Heuer Edition retails for $7,800.