Avant-garde and contemporary, yet vintage and retro. These terms sound contradictory, but the Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Automatic Chronograph replica watch seems infused with all of these elements in a masterfully harmonious horological composition. Angus Davies reviews this watch replica in close detail.While this new watch, presented at Baselworld 2015, exhibits a genial and handsome appearance, courtesy of its ‘fresh from the designers drawing board’ mien, it bestows the same degree of recognition one experiences when meeting an old friend
A sense of nostalgia with the new TAG Heuer Carrera (39mm) Calibre 18
There is sense of déjà vu with this timepiece, yet the clean-sheet design is very much a result of twenty-first century styling prowess. The Carrera (39mm) Calibre 18 is delivered with a gorgeous black and silver dial, dutifully doffing its cap to the original black and white Panda dials of yesteryear. Indeed, TAG Heuer, a watch replica company synonymous with avant-garde design, has produced a timepiece which will immediately resonate with old guard collectors.
This stainless steel Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 watch replica succinctly communicates with the wearer, but without eschewing sophistication and poise. His chronograph models remain an object lesson in matchless dial design and the Carrera (39mm) Calibre 18 proves to be no exception.Peerless legibility was always an overriding obsession for Jack Heuer whenever he designed a timepiece. His belief was that within the merest of moments, the wearer should always be readily able to discern the information presented.
The hour and minute hands are faceted and pristinely polished with luminescent fill, augmenting visibility in restricted light. The hour markers share the same faceted and polished traits as the hands, helping to deliver a simple to interpret interface with the wearer.
The bi-compax layout includes a small seconds display, positioned at 3 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph counter at 9 o’clock. The proportions and positioning of the subdials are perfect, neither appearing too large, too small, too close or too far apart. They are perfect. The subdials are snailed, presented in anthracite and brightly glisten in ambient light, whilst always remaining simple to read.
This watch replica evidently takes inspiration from the heritage models of TAG Heuer’s back catalogue while successfully evincing a contemporary character with a cohesive aesthetic.Traditionalists will appreciate the branded Heuer logo with its vintage persona. The brand has expertly negotiated the treacherous path of referencing the past whilst delivering something new.
The tip of the black gold chronograph central seconds hand and the minuterie encircling the dial cooperate perfectly. A telemeter scale on the flange of the dial allows the wearer to determine the distance between the watch replica and the source of a prominent sound e.g. a crack of thunder.
A date aperture resides at 6 o’clock, pairing black numerals with a pure white date disc. The date is simple to read and does not sit too low within the case, aiding legibility.
With a case diameter of 39mm, this watch replica may be considered modest by today’s standards, but back in the 1960s, when the Carrera name first entered the public’s consciousness, it would have been perceived as a leviathan.
The casual reader may ponder whether TAG Heuer should also offer this model in a larger size. I would say ‘no’ if the same movement was used within. The choice of movement within a watch replica has a significant influence on the positioning of the subdials. The subdials on this model are perfectly spaced apart. Some chronographs will have their registers positioned in such a way as to appear cross-eyed or just plain ugly. Thankfully, these undesirable traits do not afflict the Carrera (39mm) Calibre 18.
Regrettably, the scale of this watch replica is too small for my behemoth arms, making it appear undersized. However, my own larger than life physical stature is atypical of the average gentleman, hence the 39mm width of this watch replica should not prove an issue for the majority of ‘normal’ would-be buyers.
There is a high quotient of nostalgia with this watch. The glassbox is reminiscent of the acrylic items used in yesteryear but, in this instance, it is presented in tougher sapphire crystal with welcome scratch resistance and robustness.
Gracing the dorsal flank of the watch replica is an exhibition caseback, revealing the self-winding Calibre 18 automatic chronograph beating within the polished stainless steel case.
Unlike the original 1964 hand-wound Carrera chronograph, the Carrera (39mm) Calibre 18 is equipped with a self-winding movement, delivering greater convenience to the wearer. Moroever, it is a chronometer, indepedently certified by COSC.
The construction of the movement is modular in design and features Côtes de Genève motif on the oscillating mass. Although not quite a match technically for its costlier sibling, the Calibre 1887 , with its integrated design and coveted column-wheel, the Calibre 18 delivers a pleasingly positive action to its pushpieces and I suspect wearers will not feel shortchanged. Moreover, modular chronographs deliver cheaper ongoing servicing requirements, a virtue which should not be overlooked.
Some time ago, I spent several enjoyable hours reading Jack Heuer’s autobiography whilst relaxing on holiday. The book, entitled ‘The Times of My Life’, is a must-read for any avid watch replica collector. It reveals the trials and tribulations of being a businessman in the extremely competitive world of watchmaking.
This latest incarnation to bear the iconic Heuer logo is a heavenly horological beauty and I suspect Mr Heuer was very pleased when it was shown to him earlier this year. Jack may have retired from his day to day involvement in the company which partially references his name, but his positive influence continues to remain evident with the gorgeous TAG Heuer Carrera (39mm) Calibre 18.
Model: TAG Heuer Carrera (39mm) Calibre 18 – Automatic ChronographTechnical Specification
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 39.00 mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph.
- Movement: Calibre 18; self-winding movement
- Strap: Black perforated leather strap on steel deployant
It was whilst reading this book that I learnt much about Jack Heuer’s near-obsessive zeal in seeking the ideal chronograph and corresponding dial design. The ease of ‘read-off’ was always of vital importance to Jack when he was involved in designing Tag Heuer replica watches.