Heuer Carrera Chronographs:   
A Brief Overview: Then, Now and the Future:
A collaboration between
Matthias Liebe-Kleymann & Chuck Maddox USA!
Based on a thread from 19 June 2002,
Last Revised: 18 May 2003, 11:12 GMT.
Certain Rights Reserved.
Top, In The Beginning,
The 1960s, The 1970s,
The 1980s, The 1990s,
Now and the future...
Addendum, Author's Notes,
Certain Rights Reserved
Click here to go to Part 5: The 1990's

Top Up Down Bottom Now and the Future:


TAG-Heuer is at an interesting crossroad's... The near monopoly which Swatch Group holds on the production of watch movements, with Swatch owning not only ETA and Valjoux, but the recent addition of Lemania to their juggernaut has had ripples across the entire industry... Shortly before the turn of the millennium the luxury goods manufacturer Louis Vitton Moet Hennesy purchased TAG-Heuer which had been briefly traded publicly on the stock market. With the bulk of Lemania's production going to Omega for use in it's Speedmaster Moonwatch line it was often very difficult for TAG-Heuer to secure the necessary movements to meet demand on the Carrera Re-Editon models, although they remain in the lineup. Other Classics line models, the Monaco and the newly added Monza models sported ETA movements with Dubois-Depraz chronograph modules. The difficulty of obtaining Lemania movements, caused LVMH to purchase the Zenith Watch company as the Millenniums changed to secure the capability to produce their own movements.

The latest announced model of the Monza sports a Zenith manufactured movement based largely on the famous "El-Primero" movement that was a competitor in the virtual dead heat race to produce the first automatic Chronograph movement. It's a bit ironic that while it can be argued that the Breitling, Hamilton-Bruen, Heuer consortium was the first to cross the line and that both the Zenith and Seiko camps have their advocates as well, that it's quite possible, even likely, that soon we'll see a Heuer Carrera sporting a movement based on it's arch-rival, once again.

Where this saga ends is hard to say. TAG-Heuer is a very successful company. In many ways, namely profitability, more successful than it ever was prior to TAG-Heuer years. It has a good reputation amongst first-time buyers in the luxury Swiss watch market. In fact if you ask many first time buyers they consider their TAG's to be every bit the watch that Rolex is, but not as staid in it's designs.

But in the hearts and minds of many in the watch industry and hobby, TAG-Heuer has strayed so far from it's roots that many people who have been interested in watches for sometime never even consider the Classic models. Many feel that it would be a good strategy for TAG-Heuer to center it's sales strategy on two product lines... The TAG-Heuer line which would consist of the bulk of the existing product lines: 2000, 6000, Link, Alter Ego, Kirium, and Specialist lines, and a revived "Heuer" line which would consist of the existing Classics line with Heuer dials/crowns/clasps/etc. and new "homage" models, perhaps based around Zenith movements.

One piece of recent news that serves as a beacon for potential hope in this regard is that TAG-Heuer has recently secured the services of Jack Heuer, the driving force behind the original Carrera all those years ago. It is the hope of many that Mr. Heuer will forge a revival of the aspects of no-nonsense design that he championed previously.

In many ways, the story of the Heuer Carrera is about coming full circle. Like the great Mexican road race that served as it's inspiration, the Heuer Carrera has been about inspiration, growth, decline, memory, rebirth and growth. Coming full circle to embrace and incorporate aspects of it's competitors and rivals. The potential for TAG-Heuer to move to a new tableau is there, the pieces and components are there, the finances are good, once the current economic uncertainty is overcome their positioning is good, and they have the man who started it all is back in the fold. Let's hope they move wisely with an eye not only on the short-term but towards the horizon as well.

Just as this article was nearing completion, TAG-Heuer announced a new edition of the Carrera. This model is not a re-edition as it is unlike any previous Carrera ever produced:

Caliber 17 (not the Zenith - that's a Caliber 36), MSRP is 2,150 Euros.

-- Photo provided by Jorge Merino

As you can tell by looking at the other various models we have presented in this article these are unique watches to the Carrera history. As pointed out by Jorge in his post, the movement is not a Zenith El-Primero based movement, but rather (because of the arrangement of the sub-dials a ETA2890-A2 with a DuBois-Depraz piggyback Chronograph movement module. It's interesting that TAG-Heuer is calling this movement the Caliber 17, perhaps a tip of the hat to the earlier c.11-15 movements that also had Dubois-Depraz inspiration... Chuck discusses the ETA-DD piggyback movement in his article on the Omega Speedmaster Reduced which you may read by clicking on the supplied link. It's a shame that TAG-Heuer didn't incorporate a Zenith based movement in this Carrera, for it would be a world beater. The ETA/D-D movement is significantly less desirable. But hopefully Zenith will be able to increase production and we may yet see some Zenith-Carreras.


Top Up Down Bottom Addendum:


One of the more difficult things to do with vintage Heuer Chronographs is authentication of a watch. Since Heuer produced watches with many variations of dials, hands, etc. it is often difficult or nearly impossible to be certain that certain aspects of a given watch are correct.

However once in a while a watch comes along that it pretty easy to spot as a "Put-Together". For example this watch recently appeared for sale on eBay from a UK seller:

A "de-construction" of the dealer's text:

Heuer Carrera 1973 automatic Lemania movement (well... The Lemania 5100 movement dates from 1973 I doubt the watch does), this watch has everthing, chronograph, date and day (I don't see day do you?),G.M.T.hand what else do you need? black original dial with orange second and G.M.T. hands (well there is actually only one GMT hand and it isn't orange) (main timekeeping hands are wrong {non-original} too),steel case and screw back,this has same movement as I.W.C. Porche design (IWC never used a Lemania 5100, but Orfina-Porsche Design did) it is very rare model (yes, the 5100 based Carrera does seem to be),it has (non-original) blue internal bezel,new glass (also non-original) and was recently serviced,it comes on a Heuer steel strap I'm unsure if its original but it looks good on this watch. (Yes, I de-construct all dealer ad's in this manner…) Also looks like this watch has had a very rough life...

-- Funky 1980's style Heuer Carrera 5100

Aside from it's rough condition, there are a couple of things wrong with this example. The main timekeeping hands are incorrect, the under Plexiglas crystal has been replaced with a totally useless non-rotatable Compass/Slide Rule outer bezel of unknown origin (could be Breitling, Citizen or Seiko, or gosh! I don't know... Pulsar maybe? It's very screwy). I'm uncertain about how restorable this example is, but if my (Chuck's) personal experience is any indication, my Heuer Carrera 5100 has been at Pro-Time (TAG-Heuer's national repair facility in New Jersey) since early May and it's nearly August for a crystal change and the addition of two links. So I would think restoration of this example would be a rather lengthy project. Buyer beware!


Top Up Down Bottom Author's Notes:

This article is a collaboration between Matthias Liebe-Kleymann and Chuck Maddox based on a series of replies to a query for information on Heuer Carreras posted on the TimeZone Omega Forum on 19 June 2002 by Henrik E. Due to the timing of the posting, in the wee hours of the morning, and due to Matthias being located near Frankfurt he replied to the query first with textual information that compromises much of the copy in this article. By the time Chuck (who's located near Chicago in the USA) was aware of the post there were merely a few minor textual additions and a number of graphics. In the discussion which follows we decided to pool our resources for this article.

Much of the copy was written by Matthias, a sizable chunk of the graphics also were provided by him. Much of the text did originate from Chuck's keyboard based on his experience, information gleaned from various websites and documents on the subject. The remaining graphics, with the exception of the previously credited photograph by Eric So and scans by Jeff Stein, were provided by Chuck who also handled the HTML work and hosts this article. Special thanks to Jorge Merino for his rapid response to Chuck's request for a scan of the new Carreras just announced and for his additional scan of two Lemania c.1873 based Carrera Re-Edition chronographs . Chuck would also like to thank Walter Joerg for his assistance with the Heuer-Leonidas scan...

Special thanks are due to Chris Wooley who also provided photos and or insight on the topic at hand... Without which the article would look and read significantly different, Richard Sexton who helped with back-checking some of the information presented in this article and David Alstott who lent Chuck a wide variety of materials during the winter of 2002-2003 that included the 1985 Heuer catalog which was reproduced for the 1980's section.


Top Up Down Bottom Certain Rights Reserved:


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