2020 marks the 160th anniversary of Heuer, a celebration already marked by a silver edition of the Carrera. However, to continue this celebration, the new TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition has been launched to show Heuer’s contribution to racing in the 1970s.
It’s 1972 and you are walking down the pit lane of the Italian Grand Prix. Around you is the smell of oil and, periodically, the ripping of a Cosworth DFV V8 breaking the clamour of an exciting cloud. Colours stream past in the blue and tartan of Jackie Stewart, the red of Mario Andretti’s Ferrari and the black and gold of Emerson Fittipaldi’s JPS Lotus. On your wrist is a creation of Jack Heuer — the creator of most of the greatest racing watches — and the Heuer in question is the Montreal.
Of course, TAG Heuer no longer produce the Montreal but, as a continuation of the celebration of their 160th anniversary this year, they have decided to reinterpret this icon of the racetrack in their most popular design: the Carrera. In essence, with the use of this pairing of Carrera and Montreal, TAG Heuer have chosen to bring some of the 1970s glamour with which they are so often associated to their modern collection.
Has it worked? Well, in a word, Yes. However, one point to make very clear about the new TAG Heuer Carrera Montreal is that it’s not a vintage-style watch. From its sharply twisted lugs to its yellow dial accents, it’s a modern, gentlemen’s chronograph which merely draws inspiration from the past.
The 1972 Heuer Montreal
Before talking about the new Carrera, let’s address the nature of the original Heuer Montreal from 1972. Following the launch of the original Calibre 11 in 1969 — the first Swiss automatic chronograph — Heuer pursued a bold aesthetic to house it (and the Calibre 12 in the case of the Montreal). The first, of course, was the unforgettable Heuer Monaco which was immortalised in the 1971 film Le Mans. Whilst none could be said to have turned heads like the Monaco, plenty of other unusual designs appeared from Heuer in the subsequent years including the Montreal.
Housed in a stunning, radially-brushed stainless steel case, the Montreal was a typical early-’70s sports chronograph. Its dial was big and bold; its hands were broad and luminous and the colouration was pretty wild. Colour-coded in blue, red and yellow, this dial presented the wearer with the time, the date, a 12-hour chronograph, a tachymetre and a pulsometer. It’s important to remember that automatic winding and the date were fundamentally new functions for a chronograph thus warranting making a real show of them.
The New TAG Heuer Carrera Montreal
By contrast, frankly, the new TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition seems a far more simple timepiece. However, if the Montreal was a symbol of what Heuer represented in the 1970s, the new Carrera is a symbol of what TAG Heuer is today: a brand linked to the past but which recognises the needs of a modern buyer.
In this spirit, the polished case is that of the more manageable 39mm Carrera with which we are familiar. Whilst this does mean a loss of the originality of Montreal’s design, it also makes for a far more timeless option and one which will me more comfortable to wear. This choice is reminiscent of the similarly-lovely Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Memovox Boutique Edition which shed its 1970s case for a more modern alternative.
The dial, however, is far from a conservative choice. Of course, it still deviates from the original with three sub-dials, no date and an absence of pulsometer and tachymetre graduations. However, it replicates the feel of the original with touches such as the blue and red second track to symbolise the aforementioned graduations whilst the yellow marks of the Montreal’s minute counter reappear on the Carrera. The only element which I think has been wrongfully omitted is the decimal hour counter — a feature which defined Heuer of that era.
Most importantly, the dial of this watch is a thing of not inconsiderable beauty. The printing in all three primary colours is sharp, the delicate touch of a silvered dial is surprisingly potent and the symmetry offered by the layout is wonderful. As such, this is a much more conventionally handsome watch than the Montreal. It’s also a very enticing option for someone who wants more beauty than the overt functionality of, for example, the Omega Speedmaster yet doesn’t want the more cluttered face of a Zenith El Primero. To top this off is a box-domed sapphire crystal which seems entirely in character for this Heuer.
Inside its 100-metre water-resistant case and behind an exhibition case back, this Carrera features the same Heuer Calibre 02 as is commonly seen in the modern Heuer Autavia. Aside from the removal of the date, this movement still includes a very complete set of specifications from its 80-hour power reserve to its column-wheel and vertical-clutch actuated chronograph. In short, it’s a decisive step beyond an ETA movement and a much more advanced movement than the Calibre 12 in the Montreal. In this limited edition form, a buyer is also given a unique 160th anniversary blackened rotor in the shape of whee spokes.
What is the Carrera 160 Years Montreal Limited Edition?
So, who is this watch for? It is for a vintage Heuer enthusiast? I doubt it. Aside from being a hodgepodge of 1960s and 1970s elements, this watch doesn’t have the most exciting but polarising details of the Montreal. Instead, this watch appeals to TAG Heuer’s goals of making itself more relevant as a brand with heritage but also able to compete with the Speedmasters and Daytonas of this world. Whilst this Carrera distances itself from the aforementioned benchmarks by being a more all-round chronograph than a pure racing tool, it puts up a very good fight with modern technology, beautiful and historic styling, and real rarity with only 1,000 pieces being made.
For all of this, TAG Heuer can be proud of a very balanced celebration of their 160th anniversary and for a really beautiful offering for their buyers which provides vintage charm in modern spades.
Availability: 1,000 pieces available from July for CHF 6,600 / GBP 5,500
- Dimensions: 39mm
- Material: Stainless Steel (Polished)
- Crystal: Box-Domed Sapphire Crystal
- Display: Time (Hours, Minutes , Seconds) & Chronograph (Seconds, Hours, Minutes) / Dial Reminiscent of the 1972 Heuer Montreal / Luminous Hour and Minute Hands
- Water Resistance: 100 m / 330 ft / 10 ATM
- Movement: Heuer 02: Time & Chronograph / Automatic & Manual Winding / No-Date Version / Bespoke 160th Anniversary Automatic Rotor / Column Wheel & Vertical Clutch actuated Chronograph / 80-hour power reserve / Hacking / 4 Hz, 28,800 vph, 8 ticks-per-second