Hands-on photos by Ed Rhee

Editor’s note: The watch shown in our hands-on coverage is a pre-production prototype version of the final watch, with a handful of minor visual differences particularly on the dial. We’ve included press images of the production model as well to illustrate the differences.

Few words have the same visceral appeal to both watch enthusiasts and car fans as “Carrera.” Inspired by the rigorous, often treacherous course of the classic Carrera Panamericana road race that wound across Mexico from 1950 to 1954, the Carrera nameplate has graced flagship models from both TAG Heuer and German sports car giant Porsche consistently since 1963. Of course, 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of both the TAG Heuer Carrera series and the universally acclaimed Porsche 911 (originally called the 901 before a legal dispute with Peugeot forced a naming shift), and both brands are eager to celebrate this milestone occasion with unique commemorative models. While this year has already produced several TAG Heuer x Porsche timepieces to honor this anniversary, the Swiss marque’s latest effort is by far its most extensive and mechanically impressive attempt to capture the spirit of the Porsche 911 on the wrist. With a unique, spectacle-driven take on the chronograph complication coupled with a design that blends the modern “Glassbox” Carrera layout with vibrant, graphic touches lifted from vintage Porsche 911 VDO gauges, the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche watch series is a fittingly sporty, idiosyncratic tribute to two of the most beloved product lines of the past 60 years.

Although the case design of the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche series riffs on the streamlined, futuristic “Glassbox” Carrera design, these new models offer a larger, more athletic presence on the wrist. Like the Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon revealed at Watches and Wonders 2023, the Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche measures in at a sizeable 42mm wide, with a fully bezel-less layout that emphasizes this heft in normal wearing conditions. Available in either stainless steel or 18K 5N rose gold (only the stainless steel model was available for hands-on photography), the Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche’s case should feel largely familiar to fans of the brand, with the Carrera family’s classic inwardly-beveled angular lugs paired with a dramatic, Jetsons-esque domed crystal stretching from one edge of the case to the other. This blend of the familiar and the fantastical continues to be attention-grabbing without feeling gimmicky, and at this larger size, it’s bolder and more deliberately eye-catching than its smaller siblings. Like the rest of the “Glassbox” Carreras, the new Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche models are fitted with sapphire display casebacks and are rated for a dependable 100 meters of water resistance.

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The Porsche 911 inspiration behind the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche series shines brightest through the dial design. Although the base Carrera’s layout is left largely intact, these grainy metallic silver or pale champagne gold dials add a wealth of unique visual cues lifted directly from ‘60s-era Porsche 911 dashboards. Of course, it’s the distinctive double-sided chapter ring that offers the greatest nod to the Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche’s one-of-a-kind chronograph design. This sculptural, almost wave-like element has been the visual backbone of the “Glassbox” Carrera since its introduction, but the addition of retro VDO gauge-style red accent lines to the inner scale ties the design inextricably to the interior of early 911s. Around the convex outer edge, however, things get truly unusual. Technically speaking, this is just a 60-second chronograph seconds scale, but the uneven arrangement of the numerals works in tandem with a new, spectacle-driven approach to the chronograph seconds hand.

In short, when the chronograph is activated, the central seconds hand makes a circuit of the dial in 60 seconds, but not at a steady rate. The first 9.1 seconds (a deliberate reference to the original 1963 Porsche 901, which accelerated from 0-62 mph in a then-impressive 9.1 seconds) span from 12 o’clock to slightly past 4 o’clock, before the chronograph seconds hand “upshifts” into a slower sweep. The run from 9.1 seconds to 30 seconds stretches from 4 o’clock to just shy of 9 o’clock, before one final “upshift.” The second half of the minute is then condensed between 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock, resulting in a roughly half-speed sweeping motion before the seconds hand speeds up again after passing 12 o’clock. This changing, accelerating motion is dramatic, bordering on hypnotic on the wrist, although new wearers may think the chronograph has malfunctioned the first time it’s activated. While this uneven 60-second circuit poses obvious practical concerns for regular wear, where this offbeat complication truly shines is when precisely timing sub-10-second intervals. To put it another way, the Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche is made as a companion showpiece for the wearer’s car. In order to get the most out of the experience, the owner is expected to hop in their sports car (preferably, of course, a matching Porsche 911) and strap the watch on their passenger’s wrist. Once the chronograph is activated, the owner floors the accelerator, and both driver and passenger have a tailor-made complication for clearly displaying just how quickly the classic 0-60 mph sprint can be achieved. Even if it is broadly impractical, it makes for an impressive piece of luxury sporting theater.

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The rest of the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche’s dial design is filled with racy nods to early 911s, as well. For example, the 9 o’clock chronograph hours subdial features a vibrant red stripe running through its scale from 6.8 hours onward as a direct reference to the 6,800 RPM redline of the first 911’s flat-six engine. Likewise, the 6 o’clock running seconds subdial takes both its red needle hand and the red accent between 50 and 54 seconds from early Porsche 911 speedometers, which featured similar highlights around the 50 km/h mark to indicate the usual speed limit in urban centers. Underneath these colorful accents, the base dial is still classic Carrera, with striped baton hands, raised outer chapter rings for the chronograph subdials, applied rectangular indices, and a cleanly framed 6 o’clock date window. It’s worth noting for the gold model, however, that TAG Heuer splits the dial hardware between case-matching rose gold on the indices and chronograph seconds hand, and rhodium plating for the main handset, subdial chapter rings, and date window frame. It’s an unorthodox two-tone look, one which will likely prove divisive among enthusiasts.

The in-house TH20-08 automatic chronograph movement inside the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche series is the key to its unique twist on the chronograph complication. Although this powerplant is largely based on the TH20 movement introduced earlier in 2023, TAG Heuer claims that a new pair of snail-shaped chronograph wheels controls the deceleration of the seconds hand. The brand goes on to state that these wheels are manufactured using the high-tech LiGA process, which combines lithography, electroplating, and molding techniques for a new way to create ultra-small mechanical components for MEMS devices. Outside of these cutting-edge additions, the TH20-08 offers the same impressive performance as the base TH20, including a beefy 80-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate alongside a refined column wheel and vertical clutch chronograph actuation system. On the finishing side, the TH20-08 uses the radially brushed, sharply engraved three-spoke steering wheel-inspired rotor design of the brand’s other Porsche-themed models, and augments it with crisp Côtes de Genève for the bridges. TAG Heuer completes both watches in the series with classic calfskin leather straps (black for the steel variant, rich tobacco brown for the gold model) embossed with the original Porsche 911 script logo at 6 o’clock. It’s a more overt touch than the rest of the design’s Porsche-themed accents, but one that can still fade into the visual background in most contexts.

Both the TAG Heuer Carrera and the Porsche 911 have become giants in their respective fields over the past 60 years, and it’s no surprise that TAG Heuer would aim to celebrate this shared anniversary between these two closely linked sporting nameplates. With the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche series, however, the brand has gone beyond a simple nod towards shared heritage into an attractive, richly detailed, mechanically complex love letter to both product lines that treads striking new visual ground for the chronograph complication in general. The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche – Steel Edition and the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche – Gold Edition are both available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for these two models stands at 9,000 CHF and 23,000 CHF respectively, as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

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