The 1970s stands as probably the most dynamic and disruptive decade in Heuer’s history. It was a decade that saw the wider roll out of Heuer’s Chronomatic mechanical movement, as well as the decade where electronic watches went from high-tech premium positioning to low-cost commodity. While the walls began to close in on the traditional Swiss watch industry, Heuer responded by launching some of its boldest watches and by forging pioneering relationships with sponsorship in Formula 1.
Heuer’s relationship with Ferrari began in 1971 and led to Heuer’s shield being added to the nose of the Scuderia’s Formula 1 cars. In exchange, Heuer provided timing equipment and gave a Solid Gold Carrera 1158 to each Ferrari driver, with the drivers name and blood type engraved on the back.
These watches confirmed the link between the Carrera and motor racing which continues today.
The Carrera was at its highest point in the mid-1970s, with Generation 2 and 3 watches being on sale simultaneously, with a variety of automatic and manual-wind movements being offered.
As the decade drew to a close, so too did production of Heuer’s mechanical movements- victims of the price war with the quartz movements. Heuer was an early pioneer in quartz, offering both battery-powered analogue Carreras and a combination analogue-digital Carrera Twin Time.
The third generation Carreras are known as the “Barrel” case Carreras, due to the stout design of the Case. Offered with either a Calibre 12 or Calibre 15 movement, the Blue, Gold and “Fume” versions had a distinctive Cotes de Geneve dial.
The Barrel Carrera is a significant departure from the refined and pretty styling of the original Carrera and could be from no decade other than the 1970s.
Heuer was a pioneer in electronic watches, with the 1975 Microsplit, and launched a range of quartz-powered Carreras in the late 1970s. While the design of the 4th generation was relatively conservative (borrowing the case of the 2nd Generation models), they were the first Carrera to be a conventional 3-hand watch rather than being a Chronograph.
Heuer did offer a quartz Chronograph, but this was a combination analogue-digital watch.
The first of the Calibre 15 Carreras appeared in 1972 with a brilliant blue dial featuring a broad silver panel running from the 3 o’clock sub-dial to the 9 o’clock position.
The Calibre 15 also introduced the “rifle-target” running seconds design that TAG Heuer reintroduced for the 2010 Carrera 1887.
A beautiful solid Yellow Gold case, this Calibre 12 Carrera which was the watch worn by Ferrari Formula 1 drivers.
Available either with a “Champagne” or Silver dial, the 1158 Carrera is among the most coveted today and commands premium prices.
It’s the Cotes de Geneve pattern on the dial that is the calling card of the Barrel Carrera, giving the watch what appears to be a striped dial. A Brown dial with Orange hands? Of course.
The Barrel case is beautifully finished with an applied sunburst pattern.
All Photos courtesy of TAG Heuer, except as noted:
– Manual Carrera dial: Abel Court