10 Tag Heuer Carrera Facts

The TAG Heuer Carrera celebrates its 55th anniversary this year and it remains one of the most important chronographs of today. Founded by Edouard Heuer in 1887, the company made precise chronographs their specialty, and with their expertise, it was only a matter of time until they created an icon.

The 1960’s saw the golden age of motorsports and through a true stroke of genius, Heuer’s great-grandson, Jack, decided it was time to create a watch dedicated for the sport. The Carrera was born, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Let’s look at 10 key facts about the TAG Heuer Carrera.

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1. JACK HEUER DESIGNED THE CARRERA AND LED ITS LAUNCH IN 1963.

Despite him not being part of the company for two decades (more on that later), the Carrera will always be synonymous with Jack. The great-grandson of the company’s founder, Jack was the company’s CEO from 1962 – 1982 and it was under his leadership that the Carrera was designed, developed, and finally launched in 1963.

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2. HE NAMED IT AFTER THE MOST DANGEROUS RACE IN THE WORLD.

In March 1962, Jack attended the 12 Hours of Sebring race in Florida and was seated beside the parents of two hotshot Ferrari drivers – the Rodriguez brothers of Mexico. They mentioned how relieved they were that their sons were not old enough to race the dangerous Carrera Panamericana, which ended in 1954. The name Carrera struck him and he registered it under Heuer. He planned on designing a watch that embodied it.


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3. THE CARRERA WAS INSPIRED BY JACK’S DESIRE FOR A CLEAN CHRONOGRAPH.

Jack is a fan of modern design and architecture, and thus hated the unnecessary tracks found in chronographs. He took this desire further and took a class on watch dials at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and used the principles of his studies to design the Carrera’s clean chronograph dial.

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4. THE CARRERA FOLLOWS THE HEUER BRAND DNA. 

By removing extraneous details, more space was created on the dial of the Carrera, allowing the chronograph to be easily read. True to the Heuer brand DNA, it was modern and avant-garde. The first Carrera had a 36mm steel case, a Valjoux 72 manual winding movement (ref 2447D), and the Carrera logo with the traditional Heuer logo in a box beneath it.

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5. IT HAS A LOT IN COMMON WITH ROLEX DAYTONAS OF THE PERIOD.

Their dials were made by the same manufacturer, Singer, while the movements were made by Valjoux. A close observation of 1963 editions of the Daytona and Carrera will also show the same exact hour markers and milled registers. The main difference is that the Carrera had no contrasting sub-dials.


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6. THE CARRERA WAS AN IMMEDIATE SUCCESS.

The clean design of the Carrera was a game changer in horology. News of the revolutionary new watch was all over publications and it quickly became the watch of choice for both professional racers and racing enthusiasts.

Over the years, the Carrera would introduce innovative changes, and become a constant on the wrists of top racecar drivers, like Bruce McLaren and Jo Siffert.


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7. THE CARRERA LOST OUT TO QUARTZ WATCHES IN THE ’80s.

Heuer came up with the second generation Carrera in 1969 and continued producing it throughout the ‘70s. But as the decade came to an end, the world turned to quartz-powered watches, causing the Carrera to eventually lose its relevance.

Jack Heuer was forced to sell his ownership of the company and would spend the next 20 years building a career in the electronics industry.

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8. HEUER MERGED WITH Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) IN 1985. THEY BEGAN RESURRECTING THE CARRERA IN THE ’90s.

 The merger sparked renewed interest in Heuer’s heritage and to tap into this growing interest among watch collectors, they decided to re-launch a special edition of the Carrera at the Monza circuit in 1995. Jack Heuer even attended the launch, despite the hurt of losing the company.

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9. THE CARRERA STARTED BEARING THE TAG HEUER LOGO IN THE 2000s. 

The decade saw major changes at TAG Heuer after being bought by French luxury conglomerate LVMH. Instead of just being a limited edition watch and retro novelty, the Carrera became part of the permanent TAG Heuer range – a strategy that continues today.

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10. THERE ARE OVER 10 GENERATIONS OF THE CARRERA.

There have been at least 10 generations of the Carrera since its introduction, with new models launched every decade since. As it celebrates its 55th anniversary this year, the company has decided to release modern reworkings of the iconic watch, with 13 new skeleton-style variations – a move that the company says is about designing the watches for the future.

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SEE MORE OF THE WATCHES IN OUR VIDEO:

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Photo Credits: Heuer Jack By BBCLCD licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0, from Wikimedia Commons  /  Heuer Carrera 1964 By Jeff stein [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons  /  Carrera 1953 Fangio [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons  /  Rolex Daytona Cosmograph 6263 By Rastapopoulos at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  /  Jo Siffert en 1969 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  /  TAG Techniques d’ Avant Garde logo on the side of the 1980 Williams FW07 by Ben Sutherland (Flickr) licensed by CC BY 2.0, Heuer Chrono 18K By Time Maven at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  /  Mechanical Quartz Watch By Hustvedt licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons.
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