New watches from TAG Heuer are always a cause for excitement. It's one of the most successful big firms in Switzerland, with a long and proud history of horological excellence, especially when it comes to motorsports. We are very much looking forward to the treats it will unveil this year at Baselworld.
TAG Heuer has been exhibiting at Basel since 1934, the same year the cornerstone was laid for what would become the convention centre, when the fair was still called Schweizer Uhrenmesse (Swiss Watch Show) and the brand was still Heuer. Many of the company's greatest achievements were first shown in that glorious Baselworld location, including icons like the Carrera and the Monaco, and technological breakthroughs like the Calibre 11, arguably the world's first automatic chronograph. Recent advances have usually been launched in Basel too, such as a "Mikrotimer" accurate to a thousandth of a second, or 2016's Carrera 02T, a high-end tourbillon chronograph retailing for just CHF 15,000.
With the 2018 Baselworld exhibitor list considerably reduced compared to previous years, there are some who say the show is in decline. But if recent trends and current predictions are anything to go by, the same cannot be said for TAG Heuer.
A Year Gone By
TAG Heuer's new watches in 2017 made a big splash at Basel. For starters there was the TAG Heuer Carrera with its exclusive Heuer-01 in-house chronograph movement. Three gorgeous 43mm models were presented in black, brown and blue, each with expertly skeletonised dials and ceramic bezels - one model even boasted a full ceramic case, and another came in rose gold, titanium and anthracite.
Equally, if you were looking for a TAG Heuer ladies' watch, there were superb options on display. Perhaps the foremost were the new models from the Link family, such as the sumptuous pink mother-of-pearl dial that turned many heads with its elegance and femininity. There were delightful Lady Carreras too.
But perhaps the most widely covered timepiece at the show last year was the excellent new Autavia, the highly anticipated re-creation of the classic racing watch, beloved of fans, that was one of the first to host the Calibre 11 in 1969. The audacious design was informed by a public vote and lots of build-up, and the final product met with largely rave reviews despite its controversial 42mm size. It uses the exciting new in-house automatic chrono movement, the Heuer-02, which previously was almost released as the Calibre 1969 or the CH80.
Speaking of which, the new movement has already found a new opportunity to shine in this years' Carrera Heuer-02 - a special "pre-Basel" announcement from the company. It's a piece of TAG Heuer news that already has many collectors a-twitter, although the official "debut" won't come until Baselworld itself.
While it is a minor anniversary for the Carrera - 55 years and counting - TAG has elected to stick with its modern, technological theme for the new watch's design. It's another stunning skeletonisation, doubling down on the Carrera Heuer-01's best-selling success.
While the Heuer-01 movement (previously the Calibre 1887) was built by the company but based on designs licensed from Seiko, the Heuer-02 is a true in-house creation from the ground up. It features the rare, high-functioning combination of a column wheel and a vertical clutch, as well as a healthy 75-hour power reserve. Many fans like that it also provides a 3-6-9 layout for the subdials.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02 is modular in construction, but will be initially available in five unique variants. One model is fully ceramic, while another two feature black PVD with either pink gold or carbon bezel and lugs. While all watches remain 43mm, the brand has hinted at a sixth piece with a GMT function and 45mm diameter.
The Coming Spring
So aside from these new Carreras, what do we think we are going to see this year from TAG at Baselworld? Given the attention it generated last year, it's a good bet that new Autavia models might be on the horizon, potentially addressing the size complaints many collectors had. A slimmed-down Autavia would be a sure hit if the company can produce it.
Bringing back other classic watches from the brand's archives is also a distinct possibility, given how popular the trend appears to be across the industry at the moment. Some have pointed to Heuer's legendary "Bund" from the 1960s as a likely candidate - a military pilots watch with a cult following could be just the thing to compliment and offset the ruthlessly driving-oriented theme of the brand's wider stable. Others have been crossing their fingers for a vintage-styled Carrera with the Heuer-02 movement, but given the brand's modernism in recent years, this might be a pipe dream. Whatever it ends up giving us in the end, you can be sure we'll be paying attention.
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