The Carrera has been among TAG Heuer's most famous and successful collections since its debut in 1963. Designed by Jack Heuer himself, it gets its name from the famous Carrera Panamericana rally, which was the most dangerous event of its kind back in the 1950s.
The earliest Carrera models were all chronographs with a focus on optimal readability. Thus, Heuer kept the design very tidy. The dial comes with narrow baton hands, applied bar indices, and a subtle minute track around its outer edge. The subdials sit slightly sunken into the dial, adding a nice sense of depth. What's more, Heuer decided against a tachymeter bezel – a near-ubiquitous feature on other chronographs. This results in a particularly elegant timepiece.
Prime examples of vintage Carreras include the ref. 2447 and ref. 3647. The former has three subdials and gets its power from the manual caliber Valjoux 72. Depending on the exact edition and its condition, be prepared to spend between 8,600 and 11,500 USD. The Carrera 3647 also uses a manual caliber, namely the Valjoux 92. This model comes with two subdials and sells for anywhere between 6,300 and 10,500 USD.
Modern Carrera Watches: New Calibers, Sporty Designs
Over the decades, the Carrera has grown into a comprehensive collection of both vintage-inspired timepieces and watches with modern designs, including several options with a tachymeter bezel. TAG Heuer offers various chronograph editions, automatic three-hand watches with a date display, and models with skeletonized dials.
The Carrera Calibre 16 is a true modern classic. These models get their power from the time-tested Valjoux 7750, the most widely used chronograph caliber in the world. This Carrera is available in numerous designs, ranging from sporty and modern to more elegant versions on an alligator leather strap. Be sure to have between 3,500 and 4,700 USD on hand for one of these chronographs.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 is the series' most affordable model. This automatic three-hand watch comes with your choice of a day or day-date display. You can also choose between a solid stainless steel case or a two-tone combination of stainless steel and rose gold. Depending on the exact edition, a Carrera Calibre 5 will set you back between 2,100 and 2,700 USD.
How much do Carreras with an in-house caliber cost?
TAG Heuer has been outfitting select Carrera models with in-house calibers since 2010. Their first in-house movement, the Calibre 1887, is actually based on the Seiko caliber 6S78. The more recent Calibre Heuer 01 is very similar and appears in their sporty modern chronographs. A skeletonized dial lends these timepieces a particularly futuristic look. The Carrera Calibre 1887, on the other hand, has a more classically elegant design. Prices vary by model and range from 3,300 to 4,400 USD.
The Carrera Calibre Heuer 02 is outfitted with the latest generation of in-house chronograph calibers. The movement boasts an impressive 80-hour power reserve and displays the date between 4 and 5 o'clock. Unlike the calibers 16, 1887, and 01, the Calibre 02 has its 30-minute counter at 3, small seconds dial at 6, and 12-hour counter at 9 o'clock. The 2020 sports model costs about 5,100 USD, while prices for versions with skeletonized dials begin around 4,900 USD. Watches with an additional GMT function demand roughly 5,700 USD.
The Heuer 02 also powers numerous special-edition Carreras. Examples include the 160th-anniversary model and the 2021 Porsche-Edition. The latter is the result of a collaboration between TAG Heuer and the famed luxury sports car manufacturer. It takes much of its design inspiration from the dashboard of the Porsche 911 Carrera. Thus, the watch's numerals resemble the car's speedometer, and a red "Porsche" inscription appears on the black ceramic bezel between 12 and 2 o'clock. What's more, the dark gray dial's special texture calls to mind images of fresh asphalt. You can purchase the Carrera Porsche Special Edition for about 6,000 USD on a stainless steel bracelet or 6,400 USD on a black leather strap.
Top Models With Tourbillons
The in-house caliber Heuer 02T ticks away inside the most complicated Carrera models. It features a tourbillon at 6 o'clock that makes one full rotation per minute. The models with a titanium case and diamond-set bezel are particularly refined and sell for approximately 22,000 USD in mint condition. Ceramic editions change hands for around 19,000 USD. The Carrera Heuer 02T Nanograph is the collection's top model and features a hairspring made of a special carbon composite. This timepiece demands roughly 23,500 USD on Chrono24.