The TAG Heuer Carrera is among the most popular watches in the company’s line-up. It also represents a landmark in the company’s history.
Well before TAG acquired legendary watchmaker Heuer-Leonidas in the 1980s to become TAG Heuer, Jack Heuer decided he wanted to focus on chronographs. After taking over Heuer in 1962, he set his sights on the world of motor racing. The Carrera wristwatch was his first venture. First launched at the Basel Fair of 1963, the name was inspired by the notorious Carrera Panamericana, a six-day endurance race across Mexico that ran from 1950 until 1954—widely considered to be the most challenging and outright dangerous race of its kind.
Set in a classic 36mm stainless steel case, the clean, easy-to-read design of the Carrera made it an instant hit, encouraging Heuer to immediately begin work on different editions. It was in the 1970s, a disruptive period for mechanical watchmakers with the rise of quartz technology, that Heuer would make what he considered the best business decision of his career.
Forging a partnership with the legendary Enzo Ferrari, Heuer began issuing gold Carreras to Ferrari drivers with their names and blood groups engraved on the back. Niki Lauda, the Austrian three-time Formula One world champion, was one such recipient, as was Gilles Villeneuve, whose Heuer Carrera wristwatch went on to become a treasured family heirloom.
2005 saw the release of the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 360 Concept, again launched in Basel, with two movements: one automatic, the other a hand-wound chronograph. The new Carrera’s revolutionary ultra-precise movement (to 1/1000th of a second) was just one aspect of a hugely influential design that has informed many TAG Heuer wristwatches going forwards. A new series of Limited Edition Carrera wristwatches followed, available in a range of colors and materials, and the strong reception they have received indicate the Carrera’s enduring appeal to collectors.
Carrera Chronograph CV2A10
First released: 2008
Price Range: $2200 – $2600 Pre-Owned
Maintaining the beautifully simple design that is a hallmark of the Carrera, the CV2A10 is part of the Carrera Calibre 16 Day Date range, simultaneously rugged and luxurious. Clearly designed for the sports and racing market, with three subdials for 12-hour, 30-minute and 60-second timing function, the CV2A10 has the ever-reliable automatic Calibre 16 movement, and a sapphire crystal caseback so hard it can only be scratched with a diamond. The TAG Heuer Carrera CV2A10 has a slightly larger-than-normal stainless steel casing which is water resistant to a depth of 320 feet.
Grand Carrera CAV511B
First released: 2007
Price Range: $2800 – $3500 Pre-Owned
The Grand Carrera range takes the elegant simplicity of the Carrera Heuer watch and elevates it with design flourishes such as the hand-applied logo, the unique rotating system disc, and the refined Côtes de Genève finishing. Currently the only model in the TAG Heuer collection not to offer a quartz movement version, the CAV511B is fitted with either a stainless steel or crocodile leather band and comes powered by the groundbreaking Calibre 36 movement.
Grand Carrera CAV5185
First released: 2007
Price Range: $4200 – $5200 Pre-Owned
Supremely sporty, the Grand Carrera CAV5185 has a beautifully crafted 43mm titanium-coated case, a sleek black dial, and luminous hands for ease of reading. It also contains the Calibre 36 movement, the first mechanical chronograph ever to achieve 36,000 vibrations per hour. With an open caseback so you can see the workings, it has a black rubber deployment strap and clasp, and is water resistant up to 320 feet.
The Heuer Carrera watch is justifiably one of the most famous sports chronographs ever made, and the TAG Heuer Carrera continues that tradition even as it has updated its design. When investing in a quality pre-owned Carrera wristwatch, it’s difficult to go wrong, but there are a few useful points that any serious buyer should always bear in mind:
A pre-owned watch’s value can be affected by whether it has been worn or not over the years, and whether it comes with its original box and paperwork. Additionally, price can fluctuate by around $200 to $400 depending on whether a watch has a leather or steel band. The guide prices we’ve provided above reflect pre-owned watches in typically good to excellent condition, that will have only moderate wear.
Images ©: Header, 1-4; Crown & Caliber. 5; TAG Heuer.