The List




The List


Heuer Carrera Chronograph


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 the competition.

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 far too crass and obvious to ever 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 destroyed 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.

What makes this watch special, and differentiates it from modern Tag Heuers can be best illustrated by an analogy: Ford recently produced a modern version of the classic GT40 supercar. It looks like the original, sounds like the original, and even has modern conveniences, like air conditioning, a decent interior and electronic engine management. It is not, however, a GT40. The original may be uncomfortable, unbearably hot inside even during a British summer and heavy to drive, but it is the same car, more or less, that competed and won at Le Mans. It is, in fact, a work of art, where the new version is an imitation of art – a clever forgery, albeit one with noticeable improvements.

Similarly, 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.


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