TAG Heuer targets collectors with the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary

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TAG Heuer’s Carrera, the first watch designed specifically for timing racing cars, turns 60 this year. To mark the occasion, the Swiss watchmaker has unveiled a limited-edition re-issue of one the earliest models to roll off the production line: meet the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary.

Given that it’s become habitual for watchmakers to mark milestone birthdays by dropping a string of ‘anniversary’ watches throughout the year, it’s safe to assume the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary won’t be the last Carrera we see in 2023. Yet, for a number of contributing factors, it might just transpire to be one of the more collectible. Here’s why…

Firstly, TAG Heuer has opted to kick off the new year with a ‘Panda’ dial – where the colour of a watch’s face contrasts with the colour of its sub-dials. Panda dials are the most sought-after of all chronograph configurations owing to the makeup of the Grand Daddio of all chronographs – the ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex Daytona (black sub-dials on a white dial).

The fact that this year’s Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary is based on Heuer’s Ref. 2447 SN of 1968 – the first Heuer chronograph to feature black sub-dials on a silver face (originally made by Singer, by the way) – only adds to its stock.

There are other factors that might contribute to the 60th Anniversary becoming catnip to collectors. The general mania for all things stainless steel for one (tick); and their devotion to anything motor racing-related another (BIG tick). A reminder: the Carrera takes its name from the Carrera Panamericana – a five-day, 3,500km road race initiated by the Mexican government in 1950 as a way of promoting the recently-finished Pan-American Highway (side note: the rally proved so brutal, claiming 27 lives in its first five runs, that it was abandoned in 1956).  

“I must admit that I am not only surprised about the detailed knowledge the Heuer collectors have about the models that I created during my time,” wrote Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of company founder Edouard Heuer, in his 2013 autobiography The Times of My Life, “but also about the prices today that some of my models are traded at!”

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Prices of early Carreras have, since then, only headed northward. At the end of 2018, a Carrera from 1969 fetched more than £70,000 at auction. OK, so we’re not talking Daytona or Speedmaster territory, yet, but a quick internet search suggests that you’ll be lucky to source an early Panda-dialled Carrera for less than five digits. Which, for anyone without that sort of liquidity, makes the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary the next best thing – especially as it would be pretty difficult for anyone but Carrera diehards to tell the difference.

Like its predecessor, the 60th Anniversary model features lacquer-filled hour markers, double batons at 12 o’clock, and the vintage Heuer logo, with ‘TAG’. Sure, the larger case (upped from 36mm to 39mm) and exhibition case-back (through which you can observe TAG’s in-house Heuer 02 movement) might be something of a giveaway, but vintage pushers and a silver sunray dial provide a straight-line link to the watch’s Sixties forebear.

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Factor in the fact that only 600 units will be produced, and you can see why anyone looking to add a dreadnought of a chronograph to their arsenal better act quickly.

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary, £6,100, tagheuer.com

Read more: The best men’s watches under £5,000

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