Since its release back in 2008, the Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16 has become one of the most popular watches in the TAG Heuer range: bigger, bolder and more intricately designed than most of the Carrera models, the Day-Date model is the Alpha Male of the Carrera pack.
TAG Heuer offer the combination Day-Date feature on several Calibre 16 watches, (The Aquaracer and- in the past- the Link) but typically the only change between the two versions is the larger date window and additional functionality implied by the name. As someone who rarely uses the date function and never uses the day function (sure, I forget the date occasionally, but rarely which day of the week it is), it’s not the functionality of this watch that makes it interesting to me- it’s the design.
And the design of the Day-Date model is distinctly different to the Calibre 16 Date Carrera (below)- sure the case design is the same, but whether it be the chronograph pushers, the crown, the dial or the hands, almost every aspect of the design has been changed.
Instead of thinking of the Day-Date as being a Carrera Chronograph with a Day function, the best way to think of the watch is that it’s an affordable Carrera 360.
As you can see from the photo above, the watch borrows its looks from the 2006 Carrera Calibre 360, the limited edition range launched to showcase the Calibre 360 1/ 100th second movement.
Both watches use the over-size 43mm case- 2mm larger than the standard Carrera and a massive 20% larger than the 36mm Carrera re-edition from 1996. As well as having a larger case, both watches place the minute and seconds hash-marks on an angled inner-bezel, freeing up more room on the dial for the signature applied minute markers, set out in 5-minute increments. Look carefully and you’ll see that both watches also use the same small triangles on the inner bezel to mark each 5-minute increment.
The other design flourish borrowed from the Carrera 360 is the double-crown, a look that the Carrera 360 passed on to other watches in the TAG Heuer range, including the Grand Carrera and Monaco V4.
Apart from the layout of the dial, the Date and Day-Date Carreras share almost nothing in terms of design. The Day-Date comes from what I’ll call the “Technical” period of TAG Heuer design. If the Carrera 1887 marked a return to simplicity, then this watch comes from the opposite school where there is an array of patterned surfaces, applied markers, printed text and colours.
The Day-Date is cut from the same cloth as watches like the Grand Carrera Calibre 36- the “more is more” approach.
Even simple features like the crown and the top Chronograph pusher have detailed finishes, with a black and red band respectively. The date window? An angled 3D window that increases the sense of depth.
Like other Carrera Chronograph models, the 12 and 6 o’clock sub-dials have a circular “Record” finish, while the 9 o’clock register is slightly recessed. The central chrono. hand and the 30-minute sub-dial hands have red tips, adding another splash of color to the dial.
Overall the design of the watch works very well- the additional detailed touches and applied markers give the watch a more 3D, premium look. The question for people looking to buy a Carrera will be whether they like this design, or prefer the more understated Date-only Chronograph.
I can see that some will find the watch “over-designed”- and there is no disputing that it’s a “busy” design, but it does have a place in the Carrera range. If you have the “elegant” 1887, the “vintage-styled” Heritage series and the “racing-style” Calibre 16 Chronograph, the Day-Date is a bolder, more modern design.
The Day-Date Carrera is available in three dial colours- white, black and brown. Each of these models comes with either a steel bracelet, or a leather crocodile strap (black leather for the white and black dial and brown leather for the brown dial).
The Brown and Black dial watches have an external tachy bezel that matches the dial colour, while the white dial watch gets a stainless steel bezel.
In addition to these standard models there have been a couple of special editions, such as the titanium model below that scores a titanium case and a carbon-fibre look dial and strap.
This watch was the basis for the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix Carrera, which replaces the Red highlights with Green and replaces the plain titanium bezel with a black bezel.
Like the rest of the Carrera Chronograph range, the Day-Date model uses the evergreen Calibre 16 (ETA 7750) movement.
Unlike other 2011/12 models in the Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph range, the Day-Date model retains the clear sapphire caseback.
On the Wrist
At 43mm, this is a large watch. It’s not so much the diameter that gives it this “over-size” feel, but more the depth of the watch. You can see that the Day-Date is slightly deeper than the Calibre S (above left).
There are other deep TAG Heuer cases that don’t feel top-heavy on the wrist and that’s because of the way those straps meet the case. Take the Monaco Twenty-Four for example- the strap fits flush inside the lugs and is re-enforced with a rubber section at the end of the strap. This means that the watch never really moves around on your wrist because the weight of the watch-head is spread across the top of the strap.
The Carrera strap does not sit flush with the case (as you can see below) and so the weight is not spread out as effectively, meaning that it can feel heavy on the wrist.
Still, this watch will be bought by people looking for a watch larger than the standard Carrera, so if you want a larger watch, it follows that the watch is going to be heavier on the wrist than a smaller diameter model.
Designing the Next Carrera Day-Date
If I was handed the crayons to design the next version, I’d make several changes aimed at simplifying the dial and making it a little smaller. I wouldn’t change the overall look and feel of the watch, because those already work well.
- Case: Drop the diameter from 43 to 42mm and reduce the height of the case to reduce weight
- Delete the minute hash-marks from the dial
- Delete the words “Chronograph” and “Automatic” from the dial
- Use a thinner Day-Date window
- Make the applied “05-60” numbers smaller
- To compensate for the smaller diameter case, use a thinner bezel and drop the tachy scale (as per Carrera 1887)
- Movement: Would be nice to use the Calibre 1887 instead of the Calibre 16
I think these changes are enough to keep the spirit of the design, but to make its appeal a little broader. Deleting the tachy scale? Controversial given that this is a Carrera, but given the breadth of the Carrera range today it doesn’t hurt to have some distinction between the various models.
The Carrera Day-Date Calibre 16 shows how the design of TAG Heuer’s flagship watches like the Carrera 360 eventually trickle down to more mainstream models- we’ve seen it with the Monaco V4 and hopefully there will be a mainstream Carrera soon that uses the design cues of the Mikrograph.
The Day-Date Carrera is not designed to appeal to everyone- that’s why there are so many models in the Carrera range. What the watch does give is a premium design that appeals to those looking for something bolder, larger and more modern than the standard Carrera Chronograph. I really like the overall design theme of the watch and it’s beautifully executed.
If you’ve ever wanted a Carrera 360, but don’t need to time events down to 1/ 100th of a second, then this one is just for you.
TAG Heuer has just announced a new version of the Carrera Day-Date- you can read the review here.
Want to find out more about the history of the TAG Heuer Carrera? Check out the dedicated Calibre 11 Carrera mini-site to see all ten generations of the Carrera from 1963-2013.
Singapore GP Edition: PuristsPro