The TAG Heuer Carrera Nismo Calibre 16 is the brand’s latest watch dedicated to the legendary (and arguably world’s most important) endurance race: 24 Hours of Le Mans. This highly successful relationship between TAG and Le Mans all started in the 1970s, with a collaboration between the watch manufacturer and Ferrari and, more memorably, with the Monaco finding its way into the famed movie Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, who wore a Monaco on set. Times have changed – what a surprise – and today, Le Mans represents the pinnacle of motorsport (especially, as much as it pains me to say this, with Formula 1’s downfall over the recent years). As such, TAG dedicates a more contemporary design to the occasion, as it releases a modified Carrera Calibre 16.
Given TAG’s history with the Le Mans race, it is no wonder that they go all in this year, as they will be represented in numerous ways throughout the race. Brand ambassador Patrick Dempsey (and his team) racing in the GTE-Am group will be wearing TAG Heuer watches throughout the race, and so will two other “fans of the brand” drivers on different teams. The big deal for TAG for Le Mans 2015, however, is the partnership with the official Nissan Nismo Team, who will be racing in the top category of LMP1.
Nissan enters the 2015 race with a completely unique race car that, unlike just about any “proper” race car at the top of the food chain nowadays, uses front wheel drive and a front-mounted engine – a highly unusual design choice. Nissan is betting on the fact that this allows them to have a more aerodynamic chassis, as the back of the car can be slimmer, and hence, “less draggy” when compared to mid-engine cars. Thinking out of the box when creating race cars is not something new for Nissan; fans of the race will surely remember the Deltawing from three years ago.
The watch, as noted above, is a modified TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16. The Calibre 16 has been around for ages, and today, it uses either the ETA 7750 or its clone, the Sellita SW-500 as its base. A tri-compax layout, a cam actuated (read: non-column wheel) 12-hour chronograph, day and date indications, 4 Hertz frequency, and 42 hours of power reserve, replenished by an automatic rotor – this is as classic as it gets.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Nismo Calibre 16 case is much more modern though: at 43mm wide and in titanium, micro-blasted with titanium carbide, the case is, of course, lighter than steel, and for some extra protection against scratches, it even features a ceramic bezel. Both the bezel and the “charcoal grey” dial display the Nissan Nismo logo, which brings us back to that ever green discussion about co-branded watches: if you are a fan of Nissan’s in-house tuning skunkworks and/or own one of their street cars, then this TAG Heuer Carrera Nismo Calibre 16 may be a perfect match for you – but if not, you’re clearly better off with going for one of the many non-co-branded versions of the Carrera.
This collaboration between TAG Heuer and the Nissan Nismo Le Mans racing team makes sense, as it helps TAG remain part of the Le Mans culture – which is absolutely essential, given all its history with the race. And because Nissan is back in the game with a cool, new, and unusual idea, the Carrera is a good match as well. Equipped with the more restrained – and more affordable – Calibre 16, this special (but, to our understanding, non-limited) edition TAG Heuer Carrera Nismo Calibre 16 also is in line with TAG’s intentions of scaling down noticeably on pricing and increasing availability and affordability throughout its collections. The titanium case, ceramic bezel, and special edition nature do bump the price up a bit over your normal Carrera, though, as the TAG Heuer Carrera Nismo Calibre 16 is priced at $5,300. tagheuer.com