Hands-on Review: Carrera 40th Anniversary
The re-editions of the Carrera are generally considered the best executed of the various classic watches bought back to life. The Carrera re-edition of 1996 was the first attempt by TAG to tap into its history and was successful in bringing the Monaco, Autavia, and Silverstone, to a new generation of collectors.
Of these various re-edition models, perhaps the most sought-after is the 1964 limited edition (Ref. CV2117), known as the Jack Heuer 40th anniversary Carrera. The watch was announced at Baselworld in 2005 to mark the 40th anniversary of the first Heuer Carrera, which was released in 1964.
Named after the famous “La Carrera Panamericana” Rally that was held from 1950-54, the original watch(Spanish for “Race“) was the first Heuer model with its own model name.
The 40th anniversary watch was available as a limited edition of 1964 watches and was engraved on the back with ‘Carrera 1964 – 2004, 40 years of legend’ and the signature of Jack Heuer. The watch came with a black 20mm leather rally-style strap on a deployment clasp.
Unlike the first re-editions, the 40th anniversary model featured an automatic movement (Calibre 17- ETA 2894) and a 39mm case, as against the 36mm of the 1996 model. The extra size makes a big difference in how the watch “wears”-the 36mm re-edition feels too small to me, while the 40th anniversary model feels just right.
The design of the 1964 Limited edition is heavily based on the Carrera 1153S of 1969, sharing the silver/ Grey coloured dial, two dark-Grey sub-dials. stainless steel hands, orange centre chrono hand and date at 6 o’clock.
Many collectors view the 40th anniversary model as the most collectible of any modern TH- but to me the watch was a bit of a disappointment and I did not hold on to mine for long.
Why? Because I’d fallen in love with the prototype version of this watch that was subtly different to the version that was eventually put into production. I should add that these amount to small details, but every time I saw a photo of the prototype version, I’d wish that I had that watch instead.
The first photos of the watch released (above) shows several small differences to the production model:
- Dial color is more a flat White/ Cream than Silver/ Grey
- The tachy scale was originally on the dial itself, but was later moved to the inner bezel
- The crystal seems flatter and less domed
Overall the production model looks somehow “softer” and more rounded than the prototype, and to my eyes less appealing.
It’s worth noting that it is certainly not uncommon for small design tweaks to be made before a watch is put into production, but I still found that the watch that I saw when I opened the box was not that one that I was expecting…funny how small details can make such a difference.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Silver/ Grey dial and the move of the tachy scale to the inner bezel are both changes that make the 1964 re-edition more like the original 1153S rather than less, so its hardly a set of changes that the purists can complain about.
The overall design of the 40th anniversary watch was shared with another limited edition watch- the Ennstal Classic Carrera of 2005.
So while these small design tweaks made the watch less interesting for me, its fair to say that the bulk of collectors prefer the production version and appreciated the effort by TH to make the watch as close as possible to the original. I see very few of these on the market each year- maybe fewer than five.
Perhaps the last word on the 40th anniversary Carrera should go to Jack Heuer himself. When a group of Heuer collectors met with Jack in 2008 he was asked which was his favourite modern TH- without hesitation, he nominated this watch. Coming from the father of the original Heuer Carrera, praise doesn’t come much higher.
Alex P. Selamat