The term Carrera has its origins in La Carrera Panamerica,
a long distance race across Mexico that was once widely
described as the most dangerous race in the world. Since
then the name has been appropriated by both Heuer and
Porsche to describe model lines; the former in homage to
drivers, such as the great Juan Manuel Fangio, who both
competed in the event, and wore Heuer watches, the latter in
reference to their involvement, (and at times, victories) in
In recent years Tag Heuer (formed in 1985 when TAG
purchased Heuer Leonidas) has been trading on its
illustrious past, and in particular its connection with
motor racing, by reissuing whole lines of watches, such as
the Carrera and Monaco. Confusingly, some early models of
the Carrera re-issue were even badged as Heuers.
However, we are not interested in watches from the modern
era; a ‘Tag’ is a little too obvious to make it
onto The List. The most desirable Carrera, in our eyes, is
the 1960’s stainless steel Carrera 12 chronograph with the
Valjoux 72 movement, silver face and leather strap.
This is the watch that was worn by Formula 1 drivers in
the days before product placement and corporate identity
diminished some of the glamour of the sport. Most importantly,
though, the design is so classic and uncluttered that it
will look just as good in another fifty years.
The updated re-issues with their reliable,
modern movements and accurate replication of their
predecessor’s classic looks are good watches in their own
ways – they are just not real Carreras. Finding a vintage Carrera 12 requires a deeper commitment than just visiting
your local luxury jewellers and picking from the window
display, and it is this fact that ensures the watch’s
exclusivity and means that you are unlikely to see it on the
wrist of anyone as vulgar as a footballer or Russian
millionaire. This is one for the connoisseur.