The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Flyback
It is not that easy to navigate through the Carrera chrono collection by TAG Heuer, I counted 59 versions on their official website while taking into account those special editions released to celebrate some of the F1 Grand Prixs or made upon request for a special market, you will hardly find on the net. The Carrera line-up features two and three-counter chronos, boasting the Heuer (Jack Heuer Anniversary Edition) or TAG Heuer logo and is powered by “entry-level” (caliber 16 and caliber 17) or in-house calibers such as the 1887 or the calibre 36.
TAG Heuer has marked, in 2013, 50 years from the first Carrera, a sporty timepiece created in 1963 by Jack Heuer whose name, if you’re among the very few not to be aware of it, resembles the Carrera Panamericana, a legendary endurance race back in the years that has nicknamed the most famous large scale sports car ever. To mark that event, the Swiss brand unveiled the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Flyback, the most complicated and refined Carrera to date.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Flyback draws inspiration from the Mikrograph’s design, an exclusive chronograph launched in very limited number some years ago, capable of measuring chronographic time precise to 1/100th of a second thanks to a refined new mechanical caliber and features, for the very first time, a chrono movement with a fly-back function. But not just any caliber, this is a customized El Primero. This caliber is, hence, made in-house but it has been kindly sourced by ZENITH (a sister company in the LVMH’s group), whereas the caliber 1887 has been entirely developed by TAG Heuer (even if, I heard, not from scratch but reworking an original Japanese design) and represents the TAG Heuer’s core caliber in equipping the majority of its chronos’ production.
I do think TAG Heuer has reworked, in making the caliber 36 Flyback, the caliber 405 that powers the ZENITH Stratos Flyback, the subtle difference being this one is a three-counter chrono, a ZENITH’s footprint, while the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Flyback is a two-counter chrono.
The first one is placed at 9 o’clock and measures elapsed seconds, while the other one, at 3, is minute counter. They both feature a concentric circle subdial and are enclosed into a protrudring graduated ring applied on the silver-anthracite dial, the same size of the mechanical caliber.
The indexes are chamfered and applied on the dial and feature a small center line covered with luminous material. On the outer ring, instead, they placed the 60 seconds counter similar to the Mikrograph as underlined above, inside a 43mm wide case that is the widest Carrera case to date. The Flyback function can be activated by pressing the chrono pusher at 4, lets the chrono counter stop, reset and restart instantaneously.
On the wrist the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Flyback is simply superb, one step further than any other Carrera which often, in the classic three-counter displacement, you might easily in my opinion mix up with many other chromos out there. TAG Heuer has made a neat, sporty yet elegant, premium and original timepiece: the merge of the over sized seconds chrono ring with the elegant two counter anthracite dial creates a bold yet sober package, aesthetically nice, off the scuffle. TAG Heuer retails it at nearly 6000-6500€.
This price tag makes it very attractive if you think in the benchmark you might easily be attracted by timepieces that are just powered by three hand sourced mechanical calibers (I mean not in-house) while supported by intriguing ad campaigns that promote them as the ultimate technological breakthrough you can’t live without. To make a long story short, the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Flyback is both form and substance. One thing is anyway still missing to the final goal and is about the winding rotor: if the movement is visible through the case back, its design has to be cool. In a TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Flyback the movement is visible. Since TAG Heuer has worked a lot on improving the caliber 1887’s rotor design appeal, I think it should work accordingly (unless there are insuperable tech constraints, such as its inertia) to improve the Calibre 36’s one, that is all but nice.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®