TAG Heuer’s Mark on the Racing World
TAG Heuer has a history with the sport of racing that dates back nearly 90 years. As the popularity of motorsports grew in the 1930s, they began producing dashboard timers for automobiles. Soon, the brand reinvented these instruments as watches. The 1960s mark a major moment for TAG Heuer and motorsports. In 1963, they developed what has become a staple racing chronograph in their catalog: the Carrera.
The following decade, Ferrari won the FIA Formula One World Championship. The brand set out to commemorate the victory with a special edition model. The result was a sporty variation of the Carrera called the Monza. It was such a success, it remained in production for another ten years, until Techniques d’Avant Garde acquired Heuer in 1985. Just before the brand discontinued the Monza, they retired the Carrera in 1982.
Under the new leadership and name, TAG Heuer worked to refine and re-establish its identity. Soon, they knew they needed to go back to their roots. By the new millennium, they had revived both the TAG Carrera and the TAG Monza. They’ve since become permanent fixtures of the TAG Heuer family of watches.
It’s undeniable that these two models share a closely intertwined history. But how do these two iconic racing watches really measure up? Here, we’re putting them head-to-head.
The TAG Carrera
The original 1963 Carrera is particularly iconic and highly sought after for its famous Valjoux 72 manual-wind movement. It featured a design that was more modern and minimalistic than anyone had seen in a tool watch before. Part of what gave the model this unique appeal was the placement of the seconds scale on the tension ring. This made the dial appear noticeably less crowded than other chronographs of the era.
In the 1970s, the brand added features like a date function and twelve-hour register. However, the most notable upgrade of the era was the addition of the first-ever automatic chronograph movement. The brand developed this all-new technology along with Breitling, Buren, and Dubois-Depraz. With the Carrera’s rising success, the brand scored a partnership with Ferrari. They equipped each of the Italian sports car manufacturer’s F1 drivers with an 18-karat yellow gold Carrera.
The next decade brought about change for the Carrera. The quartz Carrera, which actually debuted in 1978, continued to grow in popularity as the quartz craze persisted. Four years later in 1982, the brand’s fearless leader, Jack Heuer, retired and so did the Carrera.
The Carrera was reborn in 1996 and unveiled at the Grand Prix of Italy in Monza. The model was a close reproduction of the 1960s version, complete with the original “Heuer” name on the dial. The biggest difference from the original was the movement. It now came equipped with a hand-wound Caliber Lemania 1873.
Since its reintroduction, the Carrera has continued to expand in the new millennium. The brand has designed a number of commemorative editions as well as the Carrera Connected, their first smartwatch.
The TAG Monza
The original 1976 Monza was a special edition version of the Carrera. This iteration of the model is instantly recognizable for its distinctive black PVD coating. Although the brand initially intended it to be a one-off, limited run, the original Monza remained in production until 1985.
The Monza didn’t reappear in the TAG Heuer catalog until the early 2000s. The first reissue was a bit of a departure from the original. The brand sought to distinguish the model from its recently re-released counterpart, the Carrera. Its design more closely resembled early Heuer chronographs from the 1930s. In addition, they replaced its PVD coating with a more standard stainless steel finish. The first re-edition of the TAG Monza was short-lived, and the model was retired again in 2006.
In 2011, the Monza returned again as a limited edition. The model featured a design that was nearly identical to the first reissue from the new millennium. It continued to embrace the vintage, 1930s aesthetic of the brand’s manual-wind chronographs and stopwatches of the era. However, this time, it came equipped with a Caliber 36 El Primero chronograph movement.
Finally, in honor of the Monza’s 40th anniversary, the brand released a new variation in 2016. This version is most similar to the original 1970s model, with the return of the distinctive PVD-coated case. However, the commemorative TAG Monza also got some modern upgrades, like an oversized 42mm case and Caliber 17 movement.
Choosing the Best Model for You
The Carrera and Monza started as somewhat similar models. However, they’ve since evolved into two unique pieces of the TAG Heuer catalog. The modern Carrera is a quintessential chronograph with a classic, round case and clean design. On the other hand, the Monza’s design gives it a more contemporary feel. Its cushion-shaped case coupled with its PVD coating and size create a more unique look. Both of these racing-inspired watches are handsome options with the backing of the TAG Heuer name and heritage. Choosing the best model for you all comes down to personal preference.