TAG Heuer Carrera Chronometer
Few watches have as storied a history as the Carrera, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year alongside the Rolex Daytona. While the Carrera has definitely gone through many revisions over the years, the same DNA is still there from the beginning. We decided to take the current Carrera, housing TAG Heuer's Calibre 1887 movement, for a spin, and here we give you a look at the birth of Carrera, the intricacies of the Calibre 1887 movement, and what is was like to wear this modern Carrera for a week.
The Birth Of The Carrera
The Heuer Carrera was first launched in 1963, though for decades it was believed to have not been unveiled until 1964. This was long before sport chronograph watches had any mainstream popularity in the United States (and it took the Viceroy Autavia to turn this around in 1972), and Heuer was mainly known as a producer of stopwatches for race car drivers. The Carrera was originally intended as a tool watch mostly to be used by drivers and racing aficionados, but over the last 50 years it has become one of the most recognizable product lines in all of horology.
When designing the Carrera, Jack Heuer prioritized legibility and durability above all else. The Carrera was, from the very beginning, waterproof, shockproof, and anti-magnetic. As for legibility, the dial is clean and markers are well-spaced to make reading the chronograph accurately at a glance easy on the eyes for drivers. The tachymeter scale wouldn't come until later, but the earliest models incorporated the second and 1/5th second scale into the dial's flange. Inside these early Carreras was a Valjoux 72 movement, which is manually wound with three chronograph registers. The chronograph is operated with simple pump pushers and has a clean clicking feedback.
Eventually, in the early 1970s, the Carrera would begin housing automatic movements and a thicker, more typically 70s-style case came on the scene. Different dial configurations were produced over the years as well, including one-register, two-register, and date variations. This year the Carrera is celebrating its 50th anniversary, so we sat down with Jack Heuer himself to discuss the birth of this icon.
The "In-House" Calibre 1887 Movement
Inside this Carrera is TAG Heuer's in-house Calibre 1887, though that "in-house" does require a bit of an explanation in this case. Before we get into that story though, let's take a look at what the Calibre 1887 does.
The 1887 is TAG Heuer's basic in-house chronograph movement. The balance beats at 4 Hz, the power reserve is approximately 50 hours (40 or so if you're using the chronograph a lot), and it is wound automatically by a full sized rotor. There are subdials for running seconds, a 30-minute chronograph register, and a 12-hour chronograph register, as well as a small date wheel. Importantly, the chronograph itself utilizes a column wheel instead of a lesser clutch.
Named for the year that Heuer invented the oscillating pinion to be used in stopwatches, the 1887 is the fourth in-house movement from TAG Heuer - Calibre 360, Calibre S, and Calibre V came earlier. When it was unveiled in 2009 to celebrate the brand's 150th anniversary, there was a bit of commotion in watch circles about how in-house the 1887 actually is, and here's the full scoop.
TAG Heuer acquired the exclusive European rights to the TC87 movement platform from Seiko, who had patented the design back in 1997, and used it as the foundation for the 1887. TAG started with the Seiko 6S37 column wheel chronograph and adapted it to suit their needs, doing things like moving the balance wheel's position, flattening the movement out overall, and reconfiguring the main plate, bridge, and oscillator architecture.