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June 15, 2024

TAG Heuer: Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary

Six decades on from the birth of the genre-defining Carrera, TAG Heuer introduces a highly collectible 600-piece limited-edition model with panda dial inspired by a collector favourite. 

Introduced in 1963, the Carrera has defined the wristwatch chronograph genre for six decades and is now recognised around the world for its classic, elegant profile, ultra-legible dial, and utterly dependable engineering. It has been worn by legends of motor sport and stars of the silver screen, from the likes of James Hunt in the 1960s, to Mick Jagger in the 1970s, and on to Ryan Gosling today. It is an icon among icons. 

THE ORIGINS OF THE MYTH

The Carrera’s story has become a legend. Jack Heuer learned of Mexico’s dangerous and short-lived Carrera Panamericana road race in 1962 when he met the Rodríguez brothers at the 12 Hours of Sebring and was inspired to use the name for a wrist-worn chronograph. 

Debuting in 1963, Jack’s Carrera captured the speed and adventure of the race, which ran for five years from 1950 to 1954. It also spoke to the aspirations of an ambitious, upwardly mobile young generation, with its round case, absolute legibility and its deliberate simplicity. In short, it was cool. 

Six decades on, that spirit remains, Jack’s legacy enshrined for eternity. 

THE FIRST OF A LONG SERIES

To pave the way for the year-long celebrations devoted to the Carrera’s 60th Anniversary, TAG Heuer’s design and engineering teams chose to return to one of the most collectible of all vintage Carreras, the reference 2447 SN of the late 1960s

TAG Heuer Chronograph Ref.2447 SN

The first-generation Carrera model had a hand-wound Valjoux chronograph movement and either a silvered or black dial in a variety of configurations, sometimes with the addition of a scale around the dial periphery. At the end of the 1960s, a second series was added to the line-up with either a silvered dial and black subdials, or the other way around, known respectively as ‘panda’ and ‘reverse panda’. 

TAG Heuer Chronograph Ref.2447 SN

The 2447 SN had a silvered dial with black subdials – a panda – as noted in its nomenclature: ‘SN’ meant ‘silver’ and ‘noir’, or silver and black, a mix of English and French that still feels curious today. As ever, this expression of Jack’s design was driven by legibility. The vision behind the Carrera had been to create a racing instrument from which lap times could be easily recorded, with no room for distraction and absolute legibility from the high-contrast dial.

TAG Heuer Chronograph Ref.2447 SN

Building on the success of the earliest Carreras, the 2447 SN further improved readability at a glance with clever design touches. They included stripes down the hour markers to give them extra clarity, hour and minute hands with stripes down the centre for the same effect, double stops at 12 so it was clear when the chronograph was zeroed, and white hands and markings on the black counters to make them even more visible. 

THE “PANDA” RETURNS

The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary fires up the ignition ahead of a year of Carrera 60th Anniversary celebrations. Limited to 600 pieces, it’s a faithful reinterpretation of the Carrera 2447 SN. 

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary

The colourways are lifted directly from vintage to new, including the black stripes down the central hands and hour markers, the double stops at 12, and of course the black counters with high-contrast white markings.

The vintage Heuer logo is in place, too, with the name Carrera above it on a silver sunray-brushed dial. Even the counter at 6 carries over the word ‘Swiss’, marking the watch’s Swiss Made status. In a game of spot the difference, some observers will note the 60-minute and 12-hour counters are reversed, as well as the subtraction of the T from the dial which designated radioactive tritium on the original watch. This has been replaced with contemporary Super-LumiNova on the new model. 

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary

Surrounding the dial is a 39mm polished steel case, topped by a raised profile ‘glass box’ in sapphire crystal, which, along with the vintage pushers, beige lume and slimline tension ring around the dial’s outer edge, gives the watch much of its retro look. 

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary

Turn the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary over and its modern classification becomes clearer. A sapphire crystal case back reveals Heuer 02, TAG Heuer’s 80-hour in-house automatic chronograph calibre. 

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary

Also visible are the movement’s Geneva Stripes decoration, its column wheel and satisfying and a special Carrera 60th Anniversary rotor. 

The case back is engraved with the watch’s individual number, XXX/600, and with note of its 100-metre water resistance. The finishing touch is a perforated black calfskin leather racing strap with pin buckle. (Price €. 7,100)

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary