TAG Heuer got so excited about the new Heuer 02, they just simply couldn’t hold it back any longer. Behold, the pre-Baselworld 2018 debut of the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 and with it the combination of a familiar look with some notable updates, a new-for-the-collection caliber, and an inexplicably dismissed hyphen, all thrown at the competition – and the watch buying masses – at some highly competitive prices.
First, let’s talk size. The TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Chronograph comes exclusively in a 43mm wide case – note that there will be a 45mm version with a GMT function that TAG Heuer hints at in their press release, but doesn’t tell us more for the time being. Rumor has it, the new Heuer 02 will replace the 43mm Heuer-01, while the 45mm Heuer-01 will continue to live on. This, neatly, leads us to the movement: the Heuer-02, which we have seen in the generally well-received Autavia (reviewed here), marks the long-forgotten CH80’s return and now finds its way into the Carrera collection.
We’ll get to the important bit soon, just let me go on a quick rant first. I see that the hyphen from Heuer-01 and Heuer-02 is now gone – even the Heuer-01 is now Heuer 01 on TAG Heuer’s website. I, personally, got used to the hyphen, it just looks tidier; plus I really don’t get these inexplicable changes in established product names. If I am still in possession of my sanity when we get to our TAG Heuer meeting at Baselworld, I’ll ask why this had to happen. Moving on to something not just those with a developed phase of pedantry care about, the Heuer 02 is an entirely in-house designed and manufactured (I believe springs and jewels notwithstanding) automatic chronograph.
It’s not just any chronograph though. It has all the goodies you’d want these days from a properly modern mechanical chronograph, namely a column wheel and, more importantly, a vertical clutch. A vertical clutch makes all the difference in the world. Should it be fitted to your watch, you’ll discover that everyone treats you differently, somehow. Your watchmaker gives you a special hug at every service, the waiters invite you to the best table at the restaurant, the sun always shines, your childhood friends reach out to you again, and so on.
Okay, maybe it doesn’t exactly work that way – but wouldn’t that be great? What a vertical clutch actually does is allow for the slip-free starting of the chronograph, because, unlike with a horizontal clutch where two horizontally aligned wheels begin to mesh where one is turning and the other isn’t, here two plates are pressed against one another. Meshing a turning wheel with a stationary one isn’t that great for at least one of those wheels, not to mention the entire mechanism that suffers a jerky movement – you’ll often see the chronograph seconds hand move backwards or jump forwards right when the chronograph is engaged in a chronograph equipped with a horizontal clutch. The compact vertical clutch, though more difficult to manufacture and less exciting to look at from the caseback, gives you smooth operation.
The Heuer 02 also offers 75 hours of power reserve. That, for some reason, is 5 hours down from the CH80 – another thing to ask the kind people at TAG about – but well into the range that offers the sort of comfort all modern luxury watch movements should provide, in my opinion. The Heuer 02 features an impressively low number of 168 components, something that should lower production and servicing costs – compare that to the 416 in the Grand Seiko SBGC001…
As far as looks are concerned, the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 now features a 3-6-9 sub-dial layout, unlike the 6-9-12 of the Heuer 01 (reviewed here). Although the sub-dials are close together in the 31mm wide movement, they appear to reach just enough into the 3-6-9 indices to not make the case appear too large or the movement underneath too small… And yet, I personally would still love to see a new Carrera somewhere around the ~40mm range, give or take a little.
The 43mm wide case carries on TAG Heuer’s modular construction where the lugs and the middle of the case are separate pieces, allowing for some mix-and-match to happen, as it does with the partially gold piece with the black PVD steel case band, black ceramic bezel, and 18k 5N rose gold lugs (this model wasn’t included in the press kit, but low-resolution pictures of it can be found here). The case of every TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 is water-resistant to 100m, as it should be.
Although TAG Heuer goes on about the Carrera’s long-standing – 55-year-long, in fact – connection with motor sports, I can’t really see that much motor sportiness in this Heuer 02 line. What it is, is a cool-looking, competitively priced, refreshing watch, perhaps arguably for a younger generation of buyers. It’s backed up by a movement that, on paper, brings Rolex 4130 specs, for basically half the price.
I mean, the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 with a solid 18k 5N rose gold bezel and solid gold lugs – with a black PVD case profile – will retail for $12,500. That’s as much as the Rolex Daytona in steel, though perhaps an even greater difference between the two is the fact that TAG Heuer will actually sell you a watch when you turn up in their boutique, rather than laugh in your face and condescendingly offer a 2-year-long waiting list.
Don’t like gold? The ceramic cased version of the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 on a full ceramic bracelet will retail $6,550 and the steel versions with a ceramic bezel will come in at $5,500. Based on these images, I’ll say that these open-dial variants will look too brash for some – and though it is TAG Heuer who has exact sales figures on the outgoing solid dial Heuer-01 43mm, I’d love to see at least one or two references in the new Heuer 02 range with a solid dial. With this caveat noted, given the price, specs of the movement, overall design, and plenty of material and color variations, this new Heuer 02 collection is yet another aggressive move from TAG Heuer that I’d be surprised to see not work in their favor, once the watches hit stores in June, 2018. tagheuer.com