Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Telemeter
Two good reasons as to why it could be a good purchase, and other two more that leave me second doubts.
When I look at the Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Telemeter I feel a sense of relief, as I know that the manufacturer's marketing and brand strategists still believe that, within the company, there’s still room for a product line that is the brand’s legacy and, at the same time, it is also an alternative offer to those, like myself, who are most likely not going to buy the next Tag that was named after David Guetta. I own two Monacos, one is the TAG Heuer Monaco Sixty Nine and the other is a TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12 and my eyes always start sparkling with joy when I hear that the brand is due to release or has released already a new item sporting the Heuer logo.
Despite not knowing exactly what Heuer's future might hold for purists and enthusiasts alike and also whether the three models sporting the Heuer logo that were unveiled at Baselworld this year are just the legacy of the company's previous management or the new base for future developments, it is a fact and a common opinion that the Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Telemeter is one of the most sophisticated and beautiful vintage looking Carrera of all times. Clearly drawing inspiration from the two counters chronos with a Telemeter scale that used to feature in those famous Heuer’s catalogs from the 60s, it sports a Carrera case in its most classic form: round with elongated lugs, round push-piece chrono buttons and an almost flat crown.
The winning point of this particular style is the perfect combination of a silver dial with a sunray effect and two big anthracite counters with “azurage” (one for the running seconds at 3 o' clock, and the other one for the 30 minutes at 9 o' clock) packed inside a 39mm case. If you think this size is too small to wear around a big wrist, please take a look at this picture showing me wearing this timepiece (the circumference of my wrist measures around 20cm, which is definitely not on the small side). The icing on the cake and the “cool factor” maker of this watch is the geometry of the dial, which is slightly curved at its outer edges with an external anthracite chapter ring, short-cut applied indexes and the super-cambered sapphire glass (i.e. what is usually called a “glassbox”). Given the case size of 39mm this geometric effect is even more powerful and, moreover, if you place the Telemeter next to a Heuer Carrera Calibre 17 Jack Heuer Edition, you will easily understand how the vintage factor is enhanced and more authentic on this one.
The rally strap and the big historical Heuer logo that appears on the folding clasp complete a package that, at least on paper and from an aesthetical and emotional standpoint, would make me immediately step into the nearest retailer and buy this timepiece even today. If you drilldown into the technical features list, you find out that the Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Telemeter is equipped with a chrono movement that is made by a Sellita base movement (the SW300 according to my sources), where TAG has applied a chrono module by Dubois Depraz (that makes this watch a modular chronograph), a couple of interesting details that are aimed at arousing watch experts' curiosity. Generally speaking, however, it means that the manufacturer is not using an in-house-built-movement but rather a combination of technology coming from two different suppliers.
If you take a look at the case back (unfortunately I cannot provide you with a clear picture of it because the light was way too scarce to take a proper one) you get the opposite feeling of what you get when you look at the dial; the movement is sturdy and reliable but it is also modern looking and with no finishing. On the prototype shown, which is hopefully not the final version that is going to hit the stores, the winding rotor sports the TAG Heuer logo, something that I don't fully agree with given the fact that this is a timepiece that has been designed to only sport the original logo and to be part of a collection called the Heritage. This particular collection clearly represents the vintage flagship of the brand and given this timepiece's retail price of around 5,000€ it is all but cheap.
This evaluation leaves me a bit puzzled: dial, case and overall feel would definitely push me towards the immediate purchase of this timepiece, after all this is one of the best looking Carrera that TAG Heuer has released in decades, but two other characteristics, namely the caliber that looks unappealing from a technical point of view and a bit cheapish from an aesthetical one, the not too clear branding and badging make me have second doubts. If I take a better look at these pictures it seems as if the Heuer Carrera Calibre 18 Telemeter were just an initial step towards a bigger project but just not yet the final version that should have been released on the market, especially if I take into account the watch's retail price. Within the very same price range I could find a lot of watches with nice in-house-built-movements, a bit of a letdown considering the pedigree of this brand and the Carrera line-up’s longstanding history.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®