Go shopping for a TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph watch and you’ll find a heaping load of options available to select from — though judging by TAG Heuer’s own website, it is slimming down the selection quite a bit. Today, I review what is an entry-level Carrera Chronograph that TAG Heuer calls the Carrera Calibre 16. I take a look at it in its reference CBM2112.BA0651 form with a modern blue dial and matching blue ceramic bezel. The same watch is also available in black tones as the reference CBM2110.BA0651.
This particular Carrera Calibre 16 is the sister model of the similar TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 CV201AR.BA0715 which costs $50 more (though I am not sure why). Both have the same 41mm-wide steel case, the same Calibre 16 automatic chronograph movement, the same ceramic bezel, and the same bracelet. What makes them different is that the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 CV201AR.BA0715 has a more “vintage style” dial (with tan-colored luminant on the hands), whereas this CBM2112.BA0651 is decidedly more modern in its style.
In my opinion (and probably that of TAG Heuer), the Carrera Chronograph Calibre 16 will be the volume model for its mix of style, affordability, and timeless looks. It is a healthy blend of the modern classic Carrera Chronograph and the ultra-modern Carrera watches TAG Heuer released when run by Jean-Claude Biver. One of the most important design elements that separates this Carrera Chronograph Calibre 16 from those of “yesterday” is the use of index-style hour markers, as opposed to using two-digit Arabic numeral minute markers… as the hour markers.
The TAG Heuer Carrera is one of many timepieces inspired by the brand’s enviable history with motorsports. What I think the Carrera has been able to do, perhaps better than any other TAG Heuer racing-style watch, is blend in with contemporary fashion as a truly universal men’s watch that suggests its motorsports past in a subtle and tasteful way. Various design elements, such as the stopwatch-style chronograph pushers and the ceramic tachymeter scale bezel, are all part of that heritage. One of my favorite parts of the dial design is how the subsidiary seconds dial at 9 o’clock is designed to blend in with the dial. The chronograph subdials are, however, extra-emphasized, leading to a more symmetrical dial layout than a three-register watch with this layout usually offers.
At its core, however, the Carrera Calibre 16 is just a solid daily wear with a handsome design, powered by the workhorse Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. Interestingly- this particular design is not available with the in-house-made TAG Heuer Calibre 1887, as may have been the case a few years ago. Instead, if you want a slightly larger version of this same watch in a 43mm-wide case, you can opt for the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 DD (for example, the reference CV2A1V.BA0738). It features a strikingly similar design but with a few notable changes that include the larger 43mm-wide (versus 41mm-wide) case, “classic” minute markers dial, and a day of the week window next to the date window. It also features the same Valjoux 7750 automatic movement.
The angular cuts on the steel case give the Carrera Chronograph a very masculine and modern look but one that is solidly connected to the Heuer Carrera watches of yesterday. Capped with a domed sapphire crystal and water resistant to 100 meters, these watches are also suitable for most sporty situations — though TAG Heuer really intends them as “sport lifestyle” watches. For whatever reason, watch enthusiasts typically shy away from talking too much about modern Carrera watches, but that might just be because they are typically associated with having appeal for mainstream consumers. That doesn’t make them any less horologically attractive.
Elements such as the ceramic bezel and some of the dial aesthetics are contemporary to this generation of the TAG Heuer Carrera, but overall, the feeling you get when wearing these attractive timepieces has remained consistent over the last decade or so, and that is a good thing. TAG Heuer has slowly released improvements, and I think the next step is to figure out how to include its Isograph hairsprings into the Calibre 16 (Valjoux 7750) movement. That is down the line, however…
The sharp lugs of the Carrera case have, in my opinion, always looked good on a bracelet versus a strap. The Carrera bracelet is about as elegant as you can get but still look like your favorite building material is angular concrete blocks. Its a handsome look, and I think it will appeal to guys really seeking a masculine shout in their wristwatch (though not everyone is looking for that).
While the bracelet is comfortable, and it does has a relatively diminutive fold-over deployant clasp, TAG Heuer might consider adding more features to the Carrera bracelet at some point. Again, there is nothing wrong with it, but buyers today want special features in bracelets such as micro-adjusting clasp, quick-release system, or other novelties to help products but that much more distinctive. I will, however, say that the bracelet is elegant from a construction standpoint, with no external-facing screws or pins, and a deployant —as I referenced above — that is not thicker than the bracelet. I think TAG Heuer might want to try its own take on What Tudor did with the spring-loaded Pelagos bracelet. That was such an effective way to make a watch bracelet comfortable yet secure, and yet no one has since tried to do anything quite like it. TAG Heuer has the design lab to do it, and I bet the Carrera Chronograph is the place to debut it.
At this time, TAG Heuer offers Carrera watches that point to yesterday and tomorrow, as well as today. This Carrera Chronograph Caliber 16 CBM2112.BA0651 is decidedly a contemporary Carrera in that it is the watch of “today” when looking at the various pieces in the collection. It is also decently priced with a suitable legacy. At some point, modern Carrera watches will strike a note with competitive collectors, and until then, it remains a very reliable and decent watch for a serious timepiece enthusiast or the luxury watch-interested masses. Price for the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 reference CBM2112.BA0651 is $4,450 USD. Learn more at the TAG Heuer website here.
>Brand: TAG Heuer
>Model: Carrera Calibre 16 reference CBM2112.BA0651 (as tested)
>Price: $4,450 USD
>Size: 41mm-wide and about 16mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As as masculine, modern, yet also elegant sports-lifestyle watch that hints at motorsports.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Luxury watch fans who aren’t collectors, per se, but who enjoy having a few nice watches to wear at any given time as part of a compact collection.
>Best characteristic of watch: Now timeless design is also undeniably TAG Heuer, which means it has distinctive DNA. Build quality is very good and design never feels boring. Does not feel overpriced.
>Worst characteristic of watch: While the dial is mostly legible, some overlapping textures and colors mean it isn’t TAG Heuer’s most legible timepiece. The bracelet would be more interesting if it had a micro-adjust. TAG Heuer would have an even better value proposition if it did this same exact watch at this price with its in-house 1887 automatic chronograph movement.