If there’s one thing that watchmakers are proud of, it’s heritage. And TAG Heuer is no different, as this year marks the 160th anniversary of the brand’s founding in 1860 by Edouard Heuer.
The company has moved from pocket watches and dashboard timers through to luxury wristwatches, and now the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based brand is looking to some of its greatest hits and pairing them with its most modern movement.
The result is the colourful, retro-tastic TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition. While the name might be a little hard to swallow, the watch itself is anything but."
TAG Heuer has been inspired by a large, funky chronograph called the Heuer 'Montreal' released in 1972, a rare watch with a large, cushion-case and a dial that's full of colour and life.
And while this new limited edition (1,000 pieces, retailing at $9,800) has opted against the oversized case, the dial still offers period-correct detail and plenty of nostalgia.
The original Montreal offered a high-contrast white dial with two black chronograph registers, along with red and blue chronograph scales, yellow details on the minutes register and a red handset. That might sound like a lot of colour going on, but it was the early 70s after all.
The new version keeps the same colours, but in a much more toned down package. Blue registers and a framing chapter ring dominate the white dial, with little splashes of yellow luminous material on the hours and hands, with distinctive five-minute blocks on the minutes register.
And as with all of TAG Heuer's heritage releases, the dial features the old Heuer shield logo (Heuer became TAG Heuer following a 1985 merger with the TAG Group). As far as dials go, it's a sensitive update, that captures the spirit of the original but brings it into a much more 2020 aesthetic.
What has changed a lot is the case. The original Montreal was its own line – an entry-level sports chronograph – but this limited edition is a Carrera by name and nature: that funky 'cushion' style case has been left by the wayside.
The Carrera line is arguably the brand's most famous family. It takes its name from a famous, and dangerous road race, the Carrera Panamericana.
And the name works well here, evoking the brand's automotive legacy and – for all-important bonus points – it sounds good in pretty much any language.
This Carrera looks good too, with a polished 39mm steel case with the trademark long lugs attaching to a dressy dark blue alligator strap.
Casework such as the chronograph pushers are simple ad unadorned, in keeping with vintage Carrera models.
Inside, the Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic motor that's ticking over behind the scenes is anything but a relic of the past. This movement is a comparatively recent addition to TAG Heuer's mechanical family and one of the leading examples of its type.
Automatic chronographs – basically self-winding stopwatches – are notoriously complicated to design and produce, and today, over 50 years after their invention, there's only a handful of options on the market.
TAG Heuer's latest offers superior timekeeping thanks to its column-wheel construction and vertical clutch. The real improvements, from a wearers perspective, are the slightly thinner profile and 80 hours of power reserve, some 30 hours more than its predecessor.
Available from TAG Heuer boutiques and online, the Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition proves an attractive option for watch lovers: a heady mix of old-school automotive nostalgia infused with just the right amount of colour, in a thoroughly modern package.