The 1980s

The 1980s were a tumultuous time for the entire Swiss watch industry, and Heuer was no different. Jack Heuer was forced to “sell” the company to a consortium of investors (that included Piaget and Nouvelle Lemania) in 1982 and end his family’s direct ownership of Heuer. Jack Heuer left his company and would spend the next 20 years building a career in the electronics industry.

The second major change came in 1985 when Piaget/ Nouvelle Lemania sold Heuer to an Investment house led by Akram Ojjeh called Techniques d’Avant Garde (“TAG”). Ojjeh had built his fortune financing and intermediating trade deals (most notably arms) between France and Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. He created TAG to invest in high-tech industries, such as aviation and Formula 1 racing. TAG owned 50% of the McLaren Formula 1 team (and is still a major shareholder today) and financed the World Championship Porsche-designed TAG engines of the 1980s.

McLaren_MP4_2_TAG_Porsche_turbo_from_right_side_(6293155905)But while TAG’s investment was great news for TAG Heuer (as it was now named), it spelled the end of the Carrera. The new strategy of TAG Heuer was to focus on developing low-cost lines, such as the Formula 1 series and dive-watch inspired designs with the “Six Features (for example, the 1000, 2000, 4000 and 6000 series).

1980s Carrera LemaniaBut we did get one Carrera series in the 1980s- and that watch came about because of the consortium that acquired Heuer from Jack Heuer back in 1982.

Fifth Generation: 1984- 1986

92_Carrera_Lemania_no3

The Lemania Carrera was available in two versions. The stainless steel model (above) has a beautifully finished case, with the sunburst pattern inspired by the Barrel Carreras of the 1970s. As with most Lemania-powered watches of the era, the dial is a flat black with green lume strips with bright Orange detailing.

While an attractive watch in its own right, its challenging to find any elements of this design link back to the rest of the Carrera family.

At the heart of this watch is the famous Lemania 5100 movement, which was only used by Heuer during the period when Nouvelle Lemania was a part owner of Heuer- it was a sensible strategy from Lemania, which has separated from SSIH (today part of the Swatch Group) in 1981 and was keen to make sure it had as many customers as possible for their low-cost 5100.

65_Heuer_Carrera_510_no_4_3B2DFFF9-1E4F-37DC-71695DF3DA06607BThe Lemania Carrera was also available in a matte black PVD finish. While looking wonderful when new, the early efforts at applying a coating via the PVD method tended to crack as the watch aged, meaning that there are few pristine examples today.

Three of the Best from the 1980s

510.511

65_Heuer_Carrera_510.511

The military grade Black PVD Carrera has a large cushion-style case and a beautifully arranged dial, featuring a 24-hour counter.

The arrow-tipped central hand is a trademark of the Lemania 5100 whether its a Heuer, Omega or other brands which used this movement in the early 1980s.

510.523

92_Heuer_Carrera_510523

Like the sound of a Lemania-powered Carrera, but not sure about the stealth-look? Good news, as there is also a stainless steel version.

A beautifully finished case with the jubilee-style bracelet borrowed from the Heuer dive watches of the era.

…only two to choose from

Black Border

Ah…that’s it.

Yes, given that there were only two “proper” Carreras during the 1980s (check out the Extended Family page for the missing brother), we can’t even make up a full podium for this decade.

Influence / Movement


The last stand?

Last Days

“While the Carrera was in its glory days in the 60s and 70s, the model spluttered its way into the 1980s with only a single model. At the time it must have seemed that it was the end for the Carrera as a relevant model in the TAG Heuer range”

The Plastic Fantastic

Lemania

The Lemania 5100 movement has a cult following today, perhaps surprising given that the movement was designed in the late 1970s and features a number of low-cost, plastic components.

It’s a rugged movement with a wonderful sweeping central chronograph seconds hand and a characteristic design which remained in production from 1978 until around 2000.

All Photos courtesy of Paul Gavin, except as noted:

– McLaren-TAG: Wikipedia Creative Commons

– Lemania 5100: Abel Court