October 6, 2021
2020 was an extremely eventful year for TAG Heuer. In a year when nearly every one of the brand’s major nameplates received some sort of substantial update, the series with the most consequential changes of all was undoubtedly the cornerstone Carrera sports watch series. Over the course of two massive releases, both the sporty and more refined sides of the Carrera chronograph stable were fully refreshed with a bolder, more angular look and new in-house movement options. For 2021, the brand returns to the Carrera line to bring the three-hand side of the lineup in line with the new Carrera aesthetic, creating a sharply modern new collection in the process. The new TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hand Collection, including the TAG Heuer Carrera Day-Date 41mm, the TAG Heuer Carrera Date 39mm, and the TAG Heuer Carrera Twin-Time, introduces a modern, faceted new look to the Carrera family with unique stylistic and textural touches that set it apart from its competitors.
Each member of the TAG Heuer Carrera Three-Hand Collection shares the same basic stainless steel case design, heavily influenced by the 42mm Carrera Chronograph Heuer 02 line introduced in 2020. Both the 39mm case used by the Carrera Date and the 41mm case shared by both the Carrera Day Date and the Carrera Twin-Time use the Carrera’s signature angular faceted lug design, with a sharp inward lug bevel coupled to a broad polished chamfer running the length of the case sides. These elements work harmoniously to break up the case side profile in images and should work to visually compact these cases somewhat on the wrist. Horizontal brushing across the flat of the case sides gives this relatively simple shape some visual depth, highlighting the sharp transition of the chamfer handsomely while providing a much-needed blend of finishes to the overall package. While both case variants use a narrow sloping polished bezel, it’s here where the different proportions of the two models reveal themselves most clearly. For the smaller 39mm case, this bezel design takes up noticeably more visual real estate, creating a more compact, balanced, and vintage-inflected feel in initial images. For the 41mm case variant, this same bezel is stretched over a wider dial aperture, giving 41mm models a bolder and more modern dial-forward stance when viewed from above. Both case versions offer sapphire display casebacks and keep the Carrera line’s sporting pretensions intact with 100-meter water resistance ratings.
Like the cases, the dials of the TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hand Collection broadly follow the pattern of the Carrera Chronograph Heuer 02 but add unexpected new stylistic twists to the familiar pattern. Each model takes cues from the original ‘60s Carrera design, with elements like the striped pointed baton hands and grooved applied indices adding a slightly vintage cast to the contemporary design in images. Even the 12 o’clock printed Carrera emblem plays into this slightly vintage feel, with the same serif typeface used on the original 1963 Carrera. With such a minimal layout, every small detail becomes pivotal to the success of the design, and TAG Heuer does not disappoint on this front with nuances like the slightly rounded profile of the indices and the newly slimmed-down day and date window frames rewarding close inspection in initial images.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Date 39mm is the simplest of the new group, with a handsomely symmetrical 6 o’clock date window and a quartet of dial options. The two black dial variants are perhaps the most interesting of the group, ditching the common matte or sunburst finishes in favor of a fully snailed finish that adds visual depth to the design and calls to mind vinyl records in images. The optional 5N rose gold plated hands and indices only increase the visual drama in photos, giving the design a warmly luxe tone that immediately stands out from the rest of the line. The sunburst silver dial variant gives the Carrera Date a dressier, more vintage feel, with a finely grained sunburst pattern and a matching date wheel. For the blue dial model, TAG Heuer opts for a classic cobalt blue sunburst finish, although the use of a white date wheel here does potentially disrupt the overall visual flow of the dial. For the TAG Heuer Carrera Day Date 41mm, the brand uses the same four dial options, but the wider dial diameter gives the design a slightly more open look. In addition, the 3 o’clock day/date window is likely to be a divisive element among enthusiasts, with an execution that preserves part of the 3 o’clock applied index and sticks well into the center of the dial. The most distinctive design in the series is undoubtedly the TAG Heuer Carrera Twin-Time, which adds a slim red arrow-tipped GMT hand to the Carrera’s dial hardware. Available only in the sunburst blue colorway, the Carrera Twin-Time also replaces the outer seconds scale on the rehaut with a clean, open 24-hour scale in two-tone blue and pale silver. This sleekly minimal 24-hour ring keeps the clean look of the three-hand Carrera intact while adding both a dynamic new visual highlight and useful information in images.
TAG Heuer equips both the Carrera Date 39mm and the Carrera Day Date 41mm with the Sellita SW200-1 based Calibre 5 automatic movement. The Calibre 5 has been a mainstay of TAG Heuer’s lineup for years, and while the examples in the Carrera Three-Hand Collection are nicely decorated with perlage across the bridges and a signed rotor with Côtes de Genève, this powerplant is beginning to show its age somewhat. Power reserve performance is subpar by modern standards, measuring in at 38 hours with a 28,800 bph beat rate. The closely related Calibre 7 automatic GMT movement, based on the Sellita SW300, is used for the Carrera Twin-Time. Finishing is broadly the same between the two movements, and while some purists may decry the “caller” quickset GMT hand instead of the more desirable quickset hour hand, the Calibre 7 is a solid performer with a 50-hour power reserve and a 28,800 bph beat rate.
All models in the TAG Heuer Carrera Three-Hand Collection are paired with the brand’s stainless steel H-link bracelet, with the notable exception of the silver dial Carrera Day Date 41mm. Like many other elements in the series, the H-link bracelet is carried over from the 42mm Carrera Chronograph Heuer 02, with a handsomely modern and sporty angular take on the pattern, with brushed finishing punctuated by polished center links. For the silver dial Carrera Day Date, the brand instead mounts the watch on an alligator leather strap in a warm cognac brown. It’s unclear why TAG Heuer only offers this option with one particular colorway, but it does give the design a more refined, classical look.
With intriguing new finishes, a sharp new look, and a wide variety of variants, the new TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hand Collection brings the non-chronograph side of Carrera in line with the brand’s current aesthetic and delivers genuinely handsome designs in the process. The watches of the TAG Heuer Carrera Three-Hand Collection are available now through authorized dealers, with starting MSRPs of $2,700 for the TAG Heuer Carrera Date 39mm, $2,900 for the TAG Heuer Carrera Day-Date 41mm, and $3,200 for the TAG Heuer Carrera Twin-Time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.