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TAG Heuer - One Year, One Watch

TAG Heuer One Year, One Watch

2016: Carrera 02-T*


While there can be no doubt that 2016 was a year with more than its fair share of terrorist attacks, it was also undeniably a year of bravado and hype. 2016 was the year in which the US shifted towards populism, with the election of Donald Trump. The event, one of the most memorable in the decade, had huge implications: in the hands of Trump, provocation became a political weapon. Ziggy Stardust, a major provocateur on the rock scene, would doubtless have been curious to see what these ch-ch-changes would bring. Sadly David Bowie, creator of the Ziggy persona, passed away in January. It would have been equally interesting to see how the glamourous London-born star – an avid collector of the works of rebellious artist Basquiat – would have responded to another key event in 2016: Brexit. In June, the UK triggered shockwaves by voting to leave the European Union. It wouldn’t be an easy ride, but certainly delivered a scathing ‘up yours’ to the European institutions. Snubs, provocation, and dodgy jokes were also to be found aplenty on the silver screen. The 2016 star was Deadpool, a whackier-than-usual superhero with coarse, off-the-wall, but oh-so refreshing humour. The film of the same name was to become one of the most profitable R-rated movies in history. As I said, in 2016, provocation swept everything before it.

Did the same apply in the world of watchmaking? H. Moser & Cie.’s launch of the Swiss Alp Watch offered a sign that it did. It certainly took a lot of chutzpah to bring out a mechanical watch identical to the Apple Watch unveiled a few months earlier. But the most convincing proof of all is TAG Heuer’s 2016 exploit: the launch of the Carrera 02-T. In 2008, Frederique Constant had shown the way with its limited-edition, ‘affordable’ tourbillon. Nonetheless, with a price tag of under CHF 15,000, TAG Heuer’s non-limitededition tourbillon chronograph dared to thumb its nose at an entire industry, making a complication that had been the sole preserve of a wealthy elite available to a much wider customer base.

One Year, One Watch

Carrera 02-t © TAG Heuer

Why Tag Heuer?

Well of course there was Jack Heuer, the Monaco, the Carrera, and a long-standing history of sports partnership. And since 2004, the TAG Heuer brand had been experimenting with new technical solutions, too, somewhat akin to the automotive industry’s concept cars: timepieces like the Monaco V4 in 2004, the Pendulum in 2010, the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 in 2011, and the Mikrogirder in 2012. Each of these watches embodied major technical advances, but in most cases, only a limited number were made. With the Carrera 02-T, TAG Heuer changed its strategy, enlisting its R&D teams and industrial facilities to serve another cause – affordability. Despite the mere mention of the word being off-limits in a business obsessed with its luxury image, that was indeed the aim of the TAG Heuer 02.The piece created an uproar, shaking the tenets of fine watchmaking to the core and killing off the last of the sacred cows. After Deadpool director Tim Miller’s success in the world of cinema, TAG Heuer was about to show that in watchmaking too, provocation could be an exhilarating exercise – and pay off.

One Year, One Watch

Carrera 02-t © TAG Heuer

The Tag Heuer Carrera 02-t: The Deadpool of Watchmaking

The most provocative provocateur of 2016 is indeed Deadpool: a superhero with a warped sense of humour, defying good taste, shattering convention, and pulling off one exploit after another amid a host of censor-enraging punchlines on his way to victory. The TAG Heuer 02-T could be said to be Deadpool’s watchmaking counterpart – badass, aggressive, daring – and we love it. The TAG Heuer 02-T hit hard, too: here was a chronometer-certified 45mm chronograph, fitted with a tourbillon, all Swiss made – on sale at a price that was a fifth or less of that charged for tourbillons by the competition. It wasn’t just a piece of hype, either: the Carrera 02-T was a beautiful, sexy, wellmade watch in its own right – one that was easy to wear and with plenty to offer. The piece was a success, quickly becoming one of the best-selling tourbillons in the world. With the Carrera 02-T, TAG Heuer became the standard-bearer for reasonable luxury, taking all its competitors by surprise. Who knows? Perhaps its watchmakers’ rallying cry was “I’m gonna do to your face what Limp Bizkit did to music in the late 90s…”

The Take from The Devil’s Advocate

I’m good with provocation and with Trump; less so with humour. Apart from that, the 02-T is a magnificent watch. I’m not really a big fan of tourbillons, so I appreciate the relative discretion and integration in the dial here. I don’t like the pushers, though: they’re a bit small. And the counter rims clutter up the styling somewhat. Otherwise, great job. The 02-T is a tourbillon that’s perfect for hijacking Trump’s notorious MAGA slogan: Make Affordability Great Again!

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with a 10% discount if you use the following code: WT2021.

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Over 150 years of watchmaking savoir-faire and technical innovation have made TAG Heuer a global reference in avant-garde sports watches. As it tracked the rise of sports demanding increasingly precise timekeeping, TAG Heuer continually developed its unique capabilities through a long-term vision of what watchmaking is today, and what it will look like tomorrow.

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