The origin of the TAG Heuer Carrera2:49 am
The Carrera PanAmericana is by far one of the most legendary, often deadly, races in the history of motor racing. Ask any motor sport enthusiast and they would nod in agreement. It is by now widely known that the TAG Heuer Carrera draws its name and inspiration from this iconic Mexican race. But few would know the story behind the origin of the watch, and it’s an interesting story this one.
It all began at Sebring. March 1962 was when Jack Heuer, the newly appointed head of the Heuer business, attended the 12 Hours Race at Sebring in Florida. Heuer was the official timekeeper of the race. Driving for Ferrari at this endurance race were the famous Rodriguez brothers – Ricardo and Pedro. Jack had a special fondness for Ferraris and he was at the paddock when he struck up a conversation with the parents of the much-in-demand brothers.
The PanAmericana race came up and Jack was instantly gripped by the daring nature of the competition (the race was actually scrapped in 1955 due to safety concerns), and the name Carrera – it was enthralling and evocative – a perfect addition for the fiercely pioneering Heuer brand. He loved not only the sound of it but also its multiple meanings including road, race, course and career – all of which were very much Heuer territory!
Without wasting much time, the young Jack Heuer registered exclusive rights for the use of the name under “Heuer Carrera”. He had a concept, now all he needed was the apt watch to embody it. Come 1963 and the TAG Heuer Carrera had taken form, and what a form it was. Jack had created history with the Carrera – the quintessential driver’s watch was born, and it was to be a game changer in horology.
The design of the Carrera was true to the brand’s DNA – modern and avant-garde. It had a 36mm steel case, a Valjoux 72 manual winding movement and bore the reference number 2447D. The chronograph proudly sported the new logo that consisted of the word Carrera with the traditional Heuer logo in a box below it.
News of this revolutionary launch by TAG Heuer was splashed all across the media at the time – many ads were released and there were mentions about it in publications, including the 1st July issue of Yachting magazine. The Carrera had arrived, and as was expected, it quickly became the preferred choice of both professional racers and enthusiasts alike. Today, more than 50 years to its introduction, the Carrera is acknowledged by collectors and connoisseurs as one of the top ten iconic watchmaking masterpieces of all time.
After the success of the manual model, Jack Heuer went on to creating the Carrera Automatic, based on similar design codes of course. In 1970, the iconic 18ct “Carrera Automatic” chronograph (the gold content of the case being 52 grams!) was created and in 1971 the brand started a unique tradition of presenting this chronograph (produced in batches of 100 only) to every new driver that Ferrari brought on board. Each piece was personalized with the driver’s name, thus making these editions sought-after collectors’ items today.
Over the years the brand has gone on to making the Carrera ever more outstanding by introducing progressive changes to its mechanics and craftsmanship, with every model surpassing the previous one in some respect or the other. Whatever the additions though, a clear, clean design and technical invention continue to remain at its core. Through the decades, the Carrera has been a constant on the wrists of the leading men of motor racing – Bruce McLaren, Jo Siffert, Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni to name but a few. Throughout its many versions, the watch has endured the tests if time and remained a favourite among the collectors’ circles.
A legendary watch inspired by a legendary race (Video courtesy: TAG Heuer)
By Neha Chadha
Contributing Editor, The Watch Guide
With a keen interest in the art and science behind Haute Horology, Neha oversees the creative and content for Ethoswatches.com.