The 1960s was a period of regeneration for Heuer. Inspired by their new CEO, Jack Heuer, the company changed its strategy to focus on Chronographs, leading the launch of three seminal 1960s models- the Autavia (1962), the Camaro (1968) and the Carrera (1963).
The first generation Carrera introduced the case that today we consider as the classic Carrera style- a 36mm stainless steel case with elegantly shaped lugs. What set the Carrera apart from other watches of the era was the clean design of the dial. By removing extraneous detail, more space was created on the dial allowing the Chronograph to be easily read.
Adding to the dial design was the use of sunken registers, which as the catalogue above says, “gives a revolutionary 3-dimensional dial reading“. The modern design was a break from the style of the day and gave the Carrera a modern look.
Available with either a two (Carrera 45 and 30- with a 45/ 30-minute register) or three register (Carrera 12- with a 12-hour sub-dial Chronograph, the early success of the Carrera led to more models, such as the Landeron-powered Carrera 45 Dato, which added a date function for the first time.
Despite the success of the first model, The second generation Carrera was a complete break from the past. A new 39mm case was introduced with much shorter, squarer lugs. Heuer added additional splashes of colour to the new Carrera, for example the bright Orange central chronograph hand and the addition of a Blue-dial model. Most models now had contrasting sub-dials and tachy ring.
Powering the new Carrera was a radical new movement- Heuer’s own Chronomatic Calibre 11 movement, the world’s first automatic Chronograph. Manual variants with two (with or without date) or three registers were also offered, but it is Heuer’s automatic that is synonymous with the watch.
Probably the prettiest Carrera design, the Carrera 2447 SN is a manual-wind Carrera 12 with a distinctive white dial/ tachy ring and contrasting black sub-dials. Known as the “Panda” Carrera, the 2447SN is incredibly rare today.
It’s the combination of the contrasting colours and fine steel hands that gives this Carrera a classic look.
The later Dato 45 models are unusual in the Carrera family, in that there is only a single sub-dial, with the date sitting at the 9 o’clock position.
Lop-sided? yes, but this cool design stands out because its different to the perfect symmetry of most early Carreras.
While the 1153 Carrera was on sale for more than 10 years, only the first watches are powered by the Calibre 11 movement and wear “Chronomatic” on the dial.
There are only a handful of these Chronomatic models known to have survived, the blue/ charcoal and white colour scheme a clear departure from the Monochrome Gen. 1 Carreras.
All Photos courtesy of TAG Heuer, except as noted:
– Heuer Catalogue: Chuck Maddox
– Carrera montage and Carrera 2447 SN : Paul Gavin, http://www.heuerworld.com
– Carrera Chronomatic: Arno Haslinger/ On the Dash