TAG Heuer has really gone all-out and embraced the rainbow in recent years. We’ve seen purple-dial Monacos, orange-dial Aquaracers, green-dial Carreras, blacked-out Monacos, and more. And the latest release from the Swiss watchmaker continues the trend. Announced this morning, the latest addition to the Carrera family features a beautiful scarlet shade on the dial. It’s a limited edition of 600 pieces, priced at $6,750, and it shares a similar stainless-steel case profile with the all-time classic 1960s Carrera ref. 2447; the modernized “glassbox” architecture measures a compact 39mm × 14.7mm, with an approximate lug-to-lug dimension of 46.5mm.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Red Dial movement inside is, of course, the company’s in-house Calibre Heuer 02. It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a big fan. I really believe that it’s just about the ideal configuration if you were to dream up a high-end chronograph movement today that doesn’t break the bank or push the limits too far.
It all starts with a fully integrated architecture that runs in 33 jewels, at a beat rate of 28,800 vph, with an impressive power reserve of up to 80 hours, all stored in a single barrel thanks to a longer-than-usual mainspring. The entire movement construction consists of just 168 components, a remarkably small figure compared to chronograph movements of the past. The use of fewer total parts in the movement is beneficial to the end-user as it typically translates to less wear over time and a more straightforward servicing experience. Altogether, the Calibre Heuer 02 measures an impressively compact 31mm in diameter and 6.9mm in height.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Red Dial movement also enables a more traditional three-six-nine sub-dial layout (in line with the aesthetics of vintage Heuer chronographs), rather than the off-kilter six-nine-twelve orientation seen in TAG Heuer’s previous-gen Calibre Heuer 01. The movement’s functionality is rounded out by unidirectional winding, Kif shock absorption, a vertical clutch, and hacking seconds ability. One detail I particularly appreciate is the use of a red polymer cap on the column wheel. It’s used consistently on the Calibre Heuer 02, but it works particularly well with the new Carrera “Red.”
So, why red? Heuer enthusiasts might recall the brick-red dial found on the 1970s Silverstone Chronograph ref. 110.313R, but TAG Heuer doesn’t confirm that as the new model’s direct inspiration outright (they do mention it in passing), instead highlighting the color as a Heuer/TAG Heuer signature over the years, featured in the TAG Heuer logo since 1985. Of course, red was found in the tachymeter scale of Heuer chronographs as early as the late 1950s manual-wind Auto-Graph. Watches introduced later, such as the Carrera, Regatta, Monza, Monaco, and Bundeswehr, would all end up making strategic use of the color over time, as well.
Ipersonally find this a super easy watch to appreciate. The 39mm, polished-steel “glassbox” case is always a winner (absolutely love those pump pushers!), the Calibre Heuer 02 (as we’ve already covered) is a great addition, and the dial looks as downright juicy as an apple, from TAG Heuer’s supplied imagery. There’s always the chance a dial won’t live up to its initial photos, which I’m hoping isn’t the case here.
There are a number of subtle details I particularly appreciate on the dial, as well. The original Heuer logo (sans TAG) will always be a welcome presence, and the light azurage decoration on the trio of sub-dials brings a nice touch of texture to the visual playing field. The applied and polished rectangular stick-style hour markers sit up nice and tall and make their presence known, increasing legibility in the process. I’m not sure if the use of tan, vintage-tone Super-LumiNova would have been my first choice, but it might also have simply been the most attractive option. It’s difficult to imagine a sober white shade of Super-LumiNova matching the warm red dial tone. C’est la vie.
It’s been a little over a year since I last had the opportunity to strap one of these smaller “glassbox”-style Carrera releases on my wrist, but I remember TAG Heuer Carrera Red Dial like it was yesterday. This case design fits my wrist rather well; although the thickness, just under 15mm, can come across as a tad intimidating, quite a bit of that height is from the tall vintage-inspired sapphire crystal that earned the “glassbox” nickname long ago. The quintessential Carrera faceted lugs also help in that regard. I’d reckon that if you’ve found an original vintage Heuer Carrera to fit your wrist comfortably, then the 21st-century version only feels ever-so-slightly larger.
Although the first Heuer on my watch-shopping list has always been a vintage 1970s Kentucky Chronograph with a blue dial, if I was going to buy a current-generation TAG Heuer chronograph, I can’t imagine it would be anything other than one of these limited-edition 39mm Carreras. And I think this is just about the best-looking example (outside the most recent HODINKEE collaboration) to be released since the unexpected pseudo-revival of the Montreal Chronograph in the summer of 2020.