The TAG Heuer Carrera Is a Certified Racing Legend

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Given the role played by precision mechanics in both watchmaking and automobiles, it’s often the case that watch collectors are car guys, too. Of course, the wild popularity of the mildly nauseating, direct-to-Instagram steering wheel wrist shot might make that clear enough, but it’s worth noting that this crossover of passions is rooted in the daring history of motorsport. Back when race cars weren’t crafted out of carbon fibre, and the average windshield was about the size of a loaf of bread, race teams and their drivers relied upon stopwatches and chronographs to shave seconds off their lap times. Among the most renowned of chronograph manufacturers was Heuer, which changed the game back in 1963 with the introduction of the Carrera.

Tag Heuer

Before TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) purchased a majority stake of the watchmaker back in 1985, the brand, since opening its doors in 1860, was known simply as Heuer. Over the span of a century, Heuer made its name as one of the premier producers of stopwatches and dashboard timepieces, but as tastes shifted to favor the wristwatch, Heuer’s efforts evolved accordingly, focusing on wrist-mounted chronographs. This new emphasis led to the brand’s first iconic family of chronographs with the Autavia (a contraction of AUTomotive and AVIAtion). As the Autavia became more renowned, along with motorsport as a whole, other brands began developing dedicated driver’s watches. The unveiling of Rolex’s Daytona in early 1963 made it clear that moving forward, motorsport-specific models were indeed the move.

With Jack Heuer, the original founder’s great-grandson, at the helm, the Carrera came to fruition. Inspired by the breakneck Carrera Panamericana—a Mexican border-to-border race along the lines of Italy’s Mille Miglia and Targa Florio—this new collection of timepieces was characterized by extreme legibility and pithy design. Free of any unnecessary decoration on its dial, the original Ref. 2447 Carrera allowed its wearer to closely track the chronograph function. This made the watch an instant hit with notable drivers of the day, including Formula One champions James Hunt and Niki Lauda, among others.

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