Having just visited the TAG Heuer website, I learned that there are currently 120 different TAG Heuer Carrera models available as of the time of writing this article. Among them are the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 Automatic Chronograph and the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 that I will compare in this review. Yes, that number includes men's (97 of them) and women's models, as well as all the style variations available - but in short, that is a lot of Carrera watches to choose from.
Being the most popular collection of watches from Swiss TAG Heuer with roots to the early 1960s, the Carrera collection is meant to have wide appeal. That means models in various case sizes (from about 40mm wide to 45mm wide for men), with various movements, and various complications, as well as various aesthetic styles can be had. Another way of breaking down the variety of TAG Heuer Carrera models is into watches which celebrate the past with more retro designs, and those which celebrate today with more contemporary designs.
For this review, which is a bit different from most watch reviews on aBlogtoWatch, I wanted to compare two different TAG Heuer Carrera models that are nevertheless very similar. These watches have the same size case (in width), similar movements, and similar wearing styles. Each, of course, contains a lot of TAG Heuer Carrera DNA, but expresses it in unique ways. Moreover, these watches are priced very closely to one another. I can see potential customers earnestly struggling to choose between the two, so I figured I might help by pointing out the differences. At the end of the day, neither the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 or the Carrera Heuer 01 is a winner or loser. Rather, it demonstrates the broad spectrum of diverse consumer appeal that today's TAG Heuer is aiming for.
I think what you'll find is that the similarities between these two different TAG Heuer Carrera models are more striking that their differences. What you may also find is that one appeals to you a lot more than the other, despite how similar these watches are. That probably proves how important minor details are in watch design, and how we as consumers make large purchase decisions based on extremely small features.
For this comparative review, I wanted to select two watches that in my opinion are mainstream in their appeal and celebrate the best of what TAG Heuer offers in the Carrera collection featuring their in-house-made mechanical movements. Each of these models comes in a healthy assortment of variants, so be sure to check out TAG Heuer's website for very similar models to these with different dials, bezels, straps, and in some instances, materials.
The two watches are the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Automatic Chronograph 43mm reference CAR2A11.BA0799 and the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 Automatic Chronograph 43mm reference CAR201Z.BA0714. The former model is the one with the gray dial, but TAG Heuer also produces an almost identical Carrera 1887 with an all black dial (among others) which is the reference CAR2A10.BA0799.
Even though each of these watches is in the Carrera family, and currently produced by TAG Heuer, they are different in almost every way - despite perhaps looking similar at a glance. The case, bracelet, dial, hands, and movement are all distinct. I can't think of too many other watches produced at the same time by a brand which are so similar yet different - which is pretty cool. The TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 is more linked to Carrera design of the past, and will likely appeal more to classicists, while the Carrera Heuer 01 is the most contemporary Carrera model family, and represents the more forward-thinking, youthful side of the brand.
Speaking of the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01, this particular model is among the most conservative of the family. Most TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 watches are marked by skeletonized dials and wild, modern designs. I consider them to be "baby Hublot Big Bang" watches - for a number of reasons, actually. This particular TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 does not have a skeletonized dial, offering special sort of hybrid look between both traditional and modern design. aBlogtoWatch previously did a full review on the more modern TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 watch here.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 is available in both a 45mm-wide and 43mm-wide case - with this model being the smaller 43mm-wide case that is probably a better fit on more wrists. I specifically chose it because it was the same size at the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887. The cases are of similar height, but the Heuer 01 might be a tad bit thicker. It also looks larger because of the solid black ceramic bezel, while the 1887 has a steel outer bezel with a black ceramic insert. The dial might look larger on the 1887 because the bezel is thinner compared to the wider bezel of the Heuer 01 model.
Each of these Carrera cases is water resistant to 100 meters with domed sapphire crystals. They also each feature sapphire crystal display casebacks with a view of the movement. Case finishing and design is distinctively "Carrera" given the contrast brushed and polished surfaces, as well as the signature angular lug design of the Carrera collection. With that said, even though both models contain TAG Heuer Carrera classic DNA, they have numerous differences. The easiest way to see this is by looking at the side of the case. The TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 is a more traditional solid line, whereas the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01's lugs and middle case are separated as distinct elements.
When looking at the watch directly, the Heuer 01 version of the Carrera is a bit more angular and aggressive in its lines as compared to the slightly softer 1887. It's sort of like comparing the aesthetics of a Lamborghini to a Ferrari. It is useful to point out that the bracelet of the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 is actually a bit wider than that of the Carrera Heuer 01, which alters the aesthetics just a little bit. With that said, both of these watches have three-link brushed and polished steel bracelet with folding deployant clasps that are very similar in design. But again, all the parts are unique.
Another reason I chose to compare these two models is that they each offer their own take on the classic Carrera Chronograph watch dial with its dark tones accented by light amounts of red, with baton/numeral hour markers. It is a handsome and youthfully sporty look that has been a staple of the watch world for about 20 years.