Dramatically, we could call it a decade how long some of us have waited for TAG Heuer to place its affordable competitively priced tourbillon chronograph movement into a more elegant and subdued package. Originally introduced in 2016, the Heuer-02T was a futuristic, bulky, sporty chronograph fitted with one of the best-priced tourbillon movements from any major Swiss watchmaker. In 2023, that initial concept was transformed as part of the TAG Heuer Carrera’s 60th-anniversary celebrations into the TAG Heuer Carrera Tourbillon Chronograph watch that now has a new teal-dial version to boot.

All photos by Ariel Adams

Here are the most important details that have changed over the eight years since  TAG Heuer’s Heuer-02T (or Heuer02T) debuted. First, the movement is now called TH20-09, but the brand sometimes still refers to it as the Heuer02T. The TH20-00 caliber, including this TH20-09, is a development of the Heuer02T. Still produced in TAG Heuer’s Chevenez facility, it now has an extended warranty of up to five years from two, its rotor now winds bidirectionally through a noise-dampened bearing and gear train, and provides a winding speed “among the fastest on the market.”

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There is also a new oscillating weight design, as well as distinctive changes to the overall aesthetics of the caliber: TAG Heuer chooses rather more classic decorations, including brushed and striped surface treatments over what appears to be a traditional rhodium-plated movement in place of the dark, futuristic, modern-looking black-plating on the Heuer02 and Heuer02T calibers.

The power reserve and operating frequency remain unchanged at 65 hours and 4Hz, respectively. The former is 15 hours less than the non-tourbillon Heuer02 (TH20-00), which is almost certainly due to the extra weight of the tourbillon assembly: Maybe the TH20-09 could still be ticking 80 hours after being fully wound, but over those last 15 hours the mainspring simply couldn’t deliver enough torque through the heavy tourbillon all the way to the escapement to sustain reliable timekeeping.

Speaking of which, TAG Heuer appears to have quietly dropped the COSC chronometer certification during this update. Back in 2016, and every year since then, the Heuer02T was applauded not just for its mighty aggressive price, but also because it effectively shamed all the historic brands who offered 3-4-5-times as expensive tourbillons in a claimed pursuit of accuracy without actually backing those claims up. The reason for their reluctance to submit their tourbillons was at least in part because in reality adjusting and fine-tuning a tourbillon for high timekeeping performance is an absolute pain — and many realized they could continue charging 50 to 100 thousand dollars for tourbillons without any proof of accuracy.

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TAG Heuer was among the few to create and indeed serial produce a tourbillon that actually performed well. This step back from proven chronometrical performance is especially strange given that this teal-dial-equipped TAG Heuer Carrera Tourbillon Chronograph watch is significantly more expensive than the COSC-certified original: MSRP is up from $15,950 USD to $24,050 USD. And if that weren’t enough of a head-scratcher, TAG Heuer still lists on its website the “old” Heuer02T-equipped Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon (reference CAR5A90.BH0742) with a COSC-certified movement, a ceramic case, and full ceramic bracelet (!) for $22,850 USD. Now, that is a lot of watch for that price.

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Tourbillon Chronograph with a teal dial might be leaning on its handsome design to justify its somewhat elevated price. Watch design is an entirely subjective matter, but it could be argued that the “glassbox” execution — with a virtually complete elimination of a traditional bezel — in combination with a color-shifting teal dial, long Carrera lugs, applied hour markers, and massive tourbillon cut-out at 6 o’clock add up to a striking-looking piece. At 42mm wide, it certainly looks more mature and a whole lot more elegant than the early Heuer02T watches. While it is still on the thicker side at 14.33mm, the massive, domed crystal and the spectacular depth of the dial do make up for a lot of that.

Priced at $24,050 USD, the new TAG Heuer Carrera Tourbillon Chronograph (reference CBS5011.FC6566) is one expensive proposition, and yet it remains among the more competitive tourbillon-equipped luxury watches from any major Swiss watchmaker. Strange how the competition has all but failed to catch up with TAG Heuer, even in what feels like a decade already. You can learn more at the brand’s website.

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