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Introducing The TAG Heuer Carrera CH80, TAG's New In-House Chronograph Movement Finds Its First Home (Live Photos, Full Specs, Pricing)

The new TAG Heuer Carrera 41mm uses Calibre CH80, an in-house automatic chronograph movement released last year.

With the introduction of Calibre 1969 a few months ago, TAG Heuer demonstrated its renewed commitment to producing in-house chronograph movements. At Baselworld, the calibre received a new moniker ?"CH 80" ?a nod to the automatic chronograph's 80-hour power reserve. In addition to a slick new name, the movement finally found a home inside the new Carrera 41mm, a stainless-steel, three-register chrono imbued with the good looks of the 1960s classic without being a vintage clone. Oh, and it's under $6,000. It's a good move from the racing specialists who clearly continue to take their watchmaking very seriously.

TAG expects to produce 100,000 chronograph movements in 2016, aided by a new production facility in Chevenez.

So, why is Calibre CH 80 so important? Well, it represents a large investment from TAG Heuer into creating a modern in-house chronograph movement that's not only technologically astute, but also well proportioned (at a rather slim 6.5mm). In addition to a column wheel, the chronograph mechanism includes a vertical clutch that allows for very precise start and stop of the chronograph seconds hand, with nearly no perceivable jitters. The vertical clutch tends to be perceived as a high-end alternative to the oscillating pinion, which was used in TAG's Calibre 1887. When we reviewed the CH 80 (Calibre 1969) last year, the general consensus was that the technical improvements are laudable.

Notably, TAG Heuer expects to double production capacity from 50,000 in-house chronograph movements last year to 100,000 in 2016. To facilitate the production, TAG Heuer has invested CHF 40 million in a new manufacturing facility in Chevenez, Switzerland, supplementing its existing workshop at La Chaux-de-Fonds. In an effort to be more vertically integrated, the company has also acquired case-maker Cortech and dial-maker Artecad to bring production of more fake watch components in-house.

The new Carrera is a modern interpretation of the vintage classic, albeit with a few too many touches of red.

In selecting the iconic Carrera for inspiration, TAG demonstrates a deft and conscious approach to bringing proven designs through to a new model. The case size in particular, at 41mm, is a wise choice. Overall case design remains the same as other Tag Heuer Carreras, with angular lugs extending from the case with architectural grace. The thinner movement is complemented by a thinner case overall that sits comfortably on the wrist.

The chronograph functions in the standard way, with a pusher at 2 o'clock to start/stop and a rest pusher at 4 o'clock to restart the function. Each pusher moves with fluidity and precision, and the vertical chronograph hand responds with just as much ease, benefiting from the vertical clutch.

The chronograph pushers feel precise and move with fluidity.

Good balance is achieved on the dial via a 3-6-9 configuration for the minutes, seconds, and hour-registers respectively. On the dial, you'll also see a date aperture between 4 and 5 o'clock. The dial is available in two colors: black with white sub-registers and a "panda" version with white dial and black sub dials. The latter looks particularly crisp, with a bright red seconds hand adding some color to the bright white dial.

Two dial options are available: black with white sub-registers or white with black.

There are a few other instances of red throughout the fake watch ?particularly the red-tipped hands on the sub registers and a red inset laterally bisecting the crown ?that tip-toe the line between fine detail and drama. On the black dial version, the red detailing is less pronounced, by virtue of the dark background, but still noticeable. For context, its worth noting that the first Carrera dials (ref. 2447) were only black and white, resulting in a more streamlined look. By the mid 1960s, there were some "panda" style dials like seen in the new CH80, though.

The first Carrera, ref. 2447N vs. the new Carrera 41mm CH 80.

Otherwise, the finishing on the dial is clean. Brushed and polished Rhodium indices surround the black dial, while black indices with the same surface treatment look particularly bold against against white. The fine scale surrounding the dial measures down to a 1/5th of a second and is colored in red for the first 15-second portion. In this case, the instance of red complements the center chronograph hand as it moves around the dial.

Red details abound on the new Carrera.

With a combination of clean looks and an in-house movement, the new Carrera 41mm CH80 will be a strong contender in the tight market for chronograph wristwatches with relatively high-level in-house movements under $6,000.

The TAG Heuer Carrera 41mm CH 80 is priced at $5,500. For more information, visit TAG Heuer online.

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