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TAG Heuer - Carrera Automatic Tourbillon Chronograph

TAG Heuer Carrera Automatic Tourbillon Chronograph

Focus on the Carrera Automatic Tourbillon Chronograph

Simply spelling out the name of the model of this test bench arouses a healthy curiosity that immediately makes one question the justification of associating a tourbillon with the chronograph function and, if necessary, to evaluate the benefits delivered by this regulating organ. In light of the retail price (less than 20,000 Euros), one can not help wondering if this reference stems from the marketing department rather than from the R&D wing. So, is a tourbillon chronograph at this price a genuine technological revolution or a gimmick for geeks addicted to technical data sheets? That is what the results of this test bench, as well as the blue titanium version appearing in the brand’s catalog, should tell us.

Exterior

This is clearly not the section that will provide an answer to the above question. The style, the construction and the materials used are in line with the standards of a high-end TAG Heuer and involve no particular surprises. The bracelet and case are made of grade 5 titanium (bio-compatible and polishable), resulting in a weight representing a good overall balance with the 45mm diameter of the case. The fixed bezel is in blue ceramic and graduated with a tachymeter scale ensuring exemplary legibility. Certified water-resistant to 100m, the case does not require the use of screw-in pushers and crown, a fact conducive to appreciable simplicity and responsiveness. 

The blue sunburst dial accentuates the sporty natures of the watch and ensures a contrast favorable to readings by day or by night. The only small drawback one might mention is the absence of luminous material on the chronograph hands. This choice was doubtless designed to avoid any confusion at night, but is still surprising given the importance of this function for the brand and this watch in particular. Overall, the brand identity is clearly apparent, the style and the design are well-suited to the target audience and the blue shades of the bezel, dial, cage bridge and crown ring are perfectly matched.

Carrera Automatic Tourbillon Chronograph

Carrera Automatic Tourbillon Chronograph © TAG Heuer

Movement

This is the heart of the matter. Caliber 02T COSC is an automatic chronometer-certified movement powering displays of the hours and minutes as well as the chronograph functions: a central sweep-seconds hand, a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock. TAG Heuer’s engineers have chosen a flying tourbillon (1min) featuring a balance oscillating at a frequency of 28,800A/h as a regulating organ. The apparent low inertia of the balance enables a 65-hour power reserve – which is more than enough for an automatic winding mechanism that also keeps the mainspring within an ideal winding range for precision timekeeping. Opting for the best on every level, the designers of this marvel have chosen to control the chronograph functions via a column wheel visible through the sapphire crystal caweback. The finishing is on a par with the price segment of the watch and the blue treatment of the upper bridge of the cage testifies to authentic attention to detail. Successfully developing such a movement is an exercise that few technical departments have dared to undertake. Offering a watch at this price is a matter of engineering genius, industrialization – and perhaps even a revolution. We will come back to this in our conclusions

Tests 

The table appearing in the box testifies to the quality of the chronometric measurements. The movement is COSC-certified. The relatively high variations in rate shown by our measurements can be explained by the tough travel conditions endured by the prototype entrusted to us. Yet, just as in the world of shooting sports, what counts is not the absolute value, but rather the narrow spread of the measured values. And the 02T COSC caliber greatly impressed us in this respect. Naturally, with a watch positioned at this price, it would be illusory to lay claim to records of precision and one may legitimately wonder whether the same movement without a tourbillon and equipped with a balance featuring superior inertia might not give better results. At the end of the day, rather than confining ourselves to hypothetical technical considerations, perhaps we should take a step back to discover the real innovation of this tourbillon chronograph, as it is doubtles is to be found.

 

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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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