I recently published a write up of my three favorite reissues from BaselWorld 2014. I wanted to put the new TAG Heuer Carrera CH80 on the list, but I didn’t want to be one of those guys who makes lists and then puts items on it that don’t technically belong. What I mean is, TAG Heuer reintroduced the Carrera, originally made by Heuer, in 1996, so it’s been around before this year’s Baselworld. However, the CH80 is the first Carrera to get excited about since the relaunch, and I’m surprised it’s not getting more attention. Ariel Adams wrote a brief hands-on review of the new Carrera CH80 over at aBlogToWatch. As noted, the photos below are borrowed from his review.
Heuer chronographs of the 1960s and early 1970s had beautifully proportioned and high-contrast dials fit into tastefully polished and sporty stainless steel cases. TAG Heuer’s remakes in the last decade or so used ETA movements, like the 7750 workhorse chronograph, which resulted in bulky cases and dials that didn’t even seem like shadows of their former selves. TAG’s Carrera was less a reissue of a 1960s racing chronograph and more an entirely new watch that unfortunately missed the mark. On the threat of Swatch Group restricting supply of ETA movements, TAG Heuer released the Carrera Caliber 1887 a few years ago that was a welcome improvement over the incumbent thick racing chronographs.
I’m only bashing a little on the modern Carrera because the CH80 released this year is one of the watches that impressed me the most. The CH80s are phenomenal. The chronograph utilizes the same in-house Caliber 1969, although it’s been renamed to CH80. It’s a thirty-three-jewel automatic chronograph movement with 80 hours of power reserve.
The two new Carrera models feature high-contrast designs and tri-compax dial layouts, one black dial with white subdials and one white dial with black subdials. Both models feature quite strong splashes of red on the hands, the crown and the underside of the leather strap. The red is bold and luckily stops short right before entering cartoon territory. The color is more a reflection of TAG Heuer’s sportiness and less a faithful recreation of the Heuer chronographs, which omitted much color. The stainless steel cases are 41mm wide and feature sapphire crystals on front and back that offer clear views of the dial and in-house movement. The date, which appears to be “portrait” oriented in the press photos but “landscape” oriented in Ariel’s live photos, is something I could have lived without, but it’s tastefully executed. You can pick up each model on either a stainless steel bracelet or rally style leather strap with a bright red underside. Pricing starts at a very reasonable $5,500.