The 1990s were a decade when retro suddenly became cool again. Whether it was cars or watches, it seemed as though every brand was desperately checking its back catalogue to see if there were any hidden gems. So how did TAG Heuer rediscover the Carrera/.
One story is that the resurrection of the Carrera actually begins with the planned initial public offering (“IPO“) of TAG Heuer in the mid-1990s. Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) sold 40% of TAG Heuer to private equity firm Doughty Hanson in 1995 and along with the management team, the parties were looking to tap into the growing market for luxury brands going public.
But there was a problem- what exactly did TAG Heuer stand for? In an era where heritage was all-important, what was TAG Heuer’s heritage? The oldest model in the range was only ten years old.
And so to address this it was decided to re-launch a special edition of the Carrera at the Monza circuit in late 1995/ early 1996. The company even invited back Jack Heuer to attend the launch of the Carrera, something Jack generously agreed to, despite the hurt of the forced sale of Heuer in 1982 still lingering.
The renewed interest in Heuer’s heritage also extended to the book “Mastering Time” which the company commissioned to look back on the history of Heuer and integrate the new TAG Heuer into this story. The book was first published in mid-1996, only a few months after the Carrera re-edition was launched.
As the name implies, the Carrera re-edition was a faithful reproduction of the original 1964 Carrera (at the time, TAG Heuer believed that the Carrera had been launched in 1964 not 1963- it was only recently after earlier materials were found in the archives that the date was confirmed as ’63).
This was the first watch under TAG Heuer ownership that had been launched with the Heuer logo.
Inside the watch was a manual-wind Lemania 1873 movement, which suited the character of the watch perfectly.
At the launch in 1996 there were three models- two stainless steel (silver or black dial) and one solid Gold model (above).
In the late 1990s, the range expanded to include two models with white sub-dial surrounds- known as “Daytona Rings”. Neither the Salmon-dial or Black-Dial Daytona models were made back in the 1960s, the first sign that TAG Heuer saw sales potential for the resurrected Carrera.
It was a bold choice by TAG Heuer to launch a re-edition Carrera with a dial colour not even close to one that was offered in the 1960s.
Despite this, the boldness paid off, because this is probably the rarest of the 1964 re-editions today.
Maybe not a true “re-edition”, the Daytona rings look perfectly at home on the Carrera and make the link between the dial layout and a car dashboard even stronger.
Maybe it doesn’t have the heritage of the plain Black model, but to our eyes it’s the best looking of the re-editions.
The black dial re-edition is beautiful in its simplicity. A faithful reproduction of the 1964 original, not even the small 36mm size could stop the watch being a sales success.
Later models grew to 39mm and added “TAG Heuer” to the dial, but the manual-wind original is the one to get.