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In-Depth The TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 By Fragment Design Hiroshi Fujiwara

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In November 2018, TAG Heuer launched a limited edition Carrera by Fragment Design and Hiroshi Fujiwara. This new Carrera was inspired by a timepiece offered by Heuer in the mid-1960s, the Carrera Reference 2447 NT. We asked Jeff Stein, the creator and operator of the vintage Heuer site OnTheDash, to offer his perspective on this newest Carrera. In addition, check Jeff’s OnTheDash posting for detailed information about the Fragment Design Carrera, including pricing and availability. 

Re-editions can be a touchy subject for today’s watch brands. When the brands offer literal reproductions of their historic models, they may be chastised for their lack of creativity. When a brand strays too far, offering a new model that is only minimally connected to its vintage predecessor, it may be criticized for misusing the brand’s heritage. And so we rarely see a brand labeling a new watch as a "re-edition" or a "re-issue," but instead we read of homages and heritages, inspirations and interpretations, with the mandatory references to the brand’s DNA, all along the way. Despite these risks, re-editions of vintage watches have had a strong run over the last few years, with some of the new models enjoying far greater success than their predecessors.  

With the new Carrera by Fragment Design, TAG Heuer begins with a Carrera from its Museum, and with some design tweaks from an unlikely source and the use of its Heuer 02 in-house movement, has created a new watch that goes far beyond the usual type of re-issue. To put this newest Carrera into its proper perspective, we will consider it in the context of three notable predecessors – the original Carrera from 1963, TAG Heuer’s first re-issue of the Carrera from 1996, and the Hodinkee Limited Edition Skipper from 2017.  

A review of these four watches will offer insights into why we collect vintage watches and why – on occasion – vintage watch enthusiasts may even collect these new models.

Origin – The First Carrera


A 1943 Heuer brochure depicting the ref. 2447 that was the precursor to the Heuer Carrera.

While the usual narrative presents the Carrera as having been created by Jack Heuer in 1963, we go back to Heuer’s 1943 brochure to understand the origins of the Carrera. With a new 38 millimeter waterproof case and the Valjoux 72 movement, the new Reference 2447 chronograph offered the distinctive design feature that would come to define the Carrera (and that continues to define the Carrera in 2019) – three-sided lugs, with a unique and powerful geometry. In the 1950s, Heuer relocated the Valjoux 72 to its Reference 2444 case, a 36 millimeter waterproof case, with thinner, rounded lugs and a smaller crown and pushers.  

Heuer Ref. 2447, Ref., 2444, and Carrera Ref. 2447.

In 1962, Heuer introduced the Autavia, its first chronograph to have a model name, and the Carrera followed in the summer of 1963. This new Carrera (Reference 2447 for the three-register model) carried forward features of its Reference 2447 predecessor, with the key updates being the addition of the Carrera name on the dial and the use of an inner bezel / tension ring, which was marked for 1/5 second increments. The new Carrera occupied a 36 millimeter case, with the crown and pushers returning to the larger size of the first Reference 2447 chronograph, for easier use by the racer or navigator. And yes, the angular lugs from the Reference 2447 were back, bigger and stronger than ever!

The Heuer Carrera Ref. 2447.

On The Wrist
My Reference 2447 N Carrera captures everything I enjoy about this vintage watch collecting hobby. The watch is historic, being an early sample of the first execution Carrera. The watch appeals to my eye – I have a thing for black-on-black chronographs, and the accents that were white 55 years ago now provide a rich, warm tone. Finally, at 36 millimeters across the dial with a thickness of 12.5 millimeters, the first Carrera wears well. People ask, "If you could only keep a few vintage watches, which would they be?" This Carrera definitely makes any short list.

Duplication – The First Re-Issue Of The Carrera
Over the period from 1963 through 1986, Heuer offered over 100 different versions of the Carrera. Cases went from the traditional round cases of the 1960s to the C-shape cases of the 1970s to the cushion cases of the 1980s, in stainless steel, solid gold or gold-plate, and even a black coating toward the end of the run.  

The original Carrera of 1963 (left) and the 1996 re-edition.

In 1996, TAG Heuer offered the very first re-issues from its 1960s portfolio, and the first model to be re-issued was the Carrera. These first re-issues were near-literal copies of the first three-register Carreras (Reference 2447), with the dimensions of the case and style of the dial being virtually identical to the 1963 models. Offered in stainless steel models (with black or white dials) and an 18k gold case, the telltales of the 1996 re-edition were the absence of the name "Carrera" on the dial and an oversized Heuer shield. With Heuer then owned by Nouvelle Lemania, it was no surprise that the new Carrera was powered by the Lemania 1873 movement, which offered the same tri-compax lay-out as the original Carrera – chronograph hours at 6 o’clock; chronograph minutes at 3 o’clock; and running seconds at 9 o’clock.

The movements of the original Carrera and the 1996 re-edition.

On The Wrist
On a physical level, the experience of wearing the 1996 re-issue of the Carrera is almost exactly the same as that of wearing the original Carrera from 1963. With the near-identical dimensions, the re-issue Carrera feels the same as the original watch. At a glance, the two watches also look nearly the same, with the white printing of the newer Carrera appearing brighter than the printing on the original Carrera. Operation of the chronograph offers the same feel – the Lemania 1873 movement has a strong pedigree, with the pushers offering the same reassuring click as the original Valjoux 72. Ironically, the re-issue will catch more eyes than the original model, which is best explained by the bright white of the decimal minutes scale and the chronograph hands.  

Why It's In My Collection
Wearing a rare, valuable vintage watch is not always a carefree endeavor. The unexpected thunderstorm, playing with Magna-Tiles, or unloading the groceries from the trunk may put your precious watch at risk. For those times when you don’t feel like wearing a vintage watch that would be difficult (and expensive) to replace, watches like the 1996 re-issue of the Carrera offer a grab and go alternative. It offers the same look and feel as the original model, at a fraction of the price. Bang your 1963 Carrera against the metal door jamb and you may feel sick. Have the same mishap with the 1996 Carrera and you can send it to the service center for a new crystal.

Imagination – TAG Heuer Limited Edition Carrera Skipper For HODINKEE
Heuer has had a long history in regatta timing, offering a full array of stopwatches and chronographs to count down the five-minute increments to the start of a yacht race. Heuer supplied the Intrepid team that defended The America’s Cup in 1967, and celebrated the victory by offering an entirely new chronograph, the Skipper. For a detailed account of the origins of the Skipper, see "The Voyage of the Skipper".

The Skipper model of 1968. Photo courtesy of HeuerChrono.com.

Heuer offered the Skipper model from 1968 into the 1980s, but once again it’s the very first model that has captured the fancy of the collectors. This first Skipper, Reference 7754, resided in a Carrera case, yielding the "Skipperrera" nickname among today’s collectors. The Skipperrera featured a deep blue dial, and a minute recorder with green, blue and orange segments, counting down 15 minutes for the start of a race. The community of vintage collectors has seen fewer than 20 of these Skipperreras over the past decade, with four recent sales in the $60,000 to $100,000 range.  

In June 2017, HODINKEE offered a tribute to the first Skipper, a Limited Edition of 125 watches.  While the original Skipperrera featured a 15-minute countdown, with no date, the new Hodinkee model offered the usual 30 minute chronograph register and added a date. The placement of the date window at 3 o’clock was derived from Heuer’s Carrera 45 Dato, from the mid-1960s, so that the HODINKEE Skipper represented a combination of two of Heuer’s classic chronographs. While some vintage purists decried the changes in the countdown register and the addition of the date, the limited edition series of 125 watches sold out within hours, and watches have changed hands in the secondary market at twice the original $5,900 price.  

TAG Heuer Limited Edition Carrera Skipper For HODINKEE.


The HODINKEE Skipper is housed in a 38 millimeter case that incorporates TAG Heuer’s "glassbox" design. The sapphire crystal provides the durability of a modern crystal; however, it mimics the geometry of the domed plastic crystals of the 1960s. TAG Heuer had used the glassbox case on the Calibre 18 Telemeter version of the Carrera, as well as some three-hand watches. 

On The Wrist


TAG Heuer Limited Edition Carrera Skipper For HODINKEE on the wrist.

Modern chronographs that mimic the classic models of the 1960s face a couple of problems. Whether made by Heuer, Breitling, Omega, or Rolex, until the introduction of automatic chronographs in 1969, the classic 1960s chronographs used manual-winding movements, in relatively small cases (say, 35 to 40 millimeters). However, in order to address current consumer preferences for larger watches and to incorporate modern automatic movements, most of the re-issues use cases that are in the 42 to 44 millimeter range. More troubling, however, to many vintage enthusiasts is the fact that today’s re-issues tend to be much thicker than the predecessors. I go from one display case to the next at my local watch retailer and am troubled by the shift from elegantly proportioned models from the 1960s to the lumps or blobs offered by many of today’s brands. These re-issues can sometimes have a whimsical or comical look, as a well-proportioned 35 or 38 millimeter watch is blown-up to the more popular 42 to 44 millimeter size.

Why It's In My Collection


TAG Heuer Limited Edition Carrera Skipper For HODINKEE

I am a big fan of the vintage Skipper models, and have owned four of the eight versions that Heuer produced from 1968 through 1985. Still, the Skipperrera has always been the one that got away. I recall the one I missed at $3,000 and the one I missed at $7,000, and now that we see them in the $60,000 to $100,000 range, I’m no longer missing them, but watching them from a safe distance on the sidelines.  

To my eye, the HODINKEE Limited Edition Skipper is a striking design, with some fun colors that stand out in the watch box. As a vintage collector, it reminds me of the backstory of the watch, as well as all the Skipperreras that have gotten away over the years. The Skipper also offers a nice connection to the HODINKEE team and brand, an important part of my collecting hobby over the past 10 years.  

And although I never suspected it when I bought the watch, it was the glassbox construction of the Hodinkee Skipper that would provide the gateway to the newest Carrera, by Fragment Design.  

(Subtle) Disruption – The Carrera by Fragment Hiroshi Fujiwara


Since reviving the Carrera in 1996, TAG Heuer has offered hundreds of models, in both chronographs and three-hand watches. There has, however, been one massive gap in its portfolio. While the first re-issue from 1996 used a traditional tri-compax layout, since then TAG Heuer has not offered any heritage-inspired Carreras with a tri-compax layout. We have seen a variety of bi-compax (two-register) Carreras and numerous three-register models with the 12-9-6 register layout, but TAG Heuer has not offered a heritage-inspired model with the tri-compax configuration, a defining feature of the Carreras from the 1960s.  

On November 19, 2018, TAG Heuer introduced a new Carrera, in collaboration with Fragment Design, the firm of streetwear legend Hiroshi Fujiwara. The newest Carrera is based on the Reference 2447 NT, circa 1967, with the white tachymeter scale on a black-on-black tri-compax dial. The new Carrera is powered by the Heuer 02 movement, residing in a 38 millimeter glassbox case. After 22 years and hundreds of Carreras, the wait is finally over. 

The Predecessor – Carrera Ref. 2447 NT


Photo courtesy of Bazamu.com.

Soon after Heuer introduced the Carrera in 1963, it began offering models with a tachymeter scale on the dial. And while some versions of these "T" dials are relatively common (at least by vintage Heuer standards), the rarest version features a black dial, with black registers, and a tachymeter scale printed in bright white. The community of collectors can expect to see one or two of these per year, and the most recent example sold at a public auction achieved a price of $43,750 (Christie’s, December 2017). 

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