It’s been 50 years since Jack Heuer, the grandson of the founder TAG Heuer, envisioned the first watch for pilots and motorsport enthusiasts. Being a car enthusiast, Jack brought together in a housing all the features needed to fight with seconds and he gave it a name inspired by the toughest endurance race of that time.
The motorsport is a continuous struggle with fractions of second. It is important to get the best time irrespective of your position as a participant, and therefore, you need to have an accurate and easy to read watch.
The story of the Heuer brand in the world of motorsport begins in 1911, when the Swiss brand offered the first chronograph destined to vehicles and boats. Called “Time travel“, the watch was integrating into the dashboard and displayed, in parallel, the time of the day in hours and minutes, but also the number of hours elapsed from the start.
In 1963, Jack Heuer demonstrated he was the perfect person to understand what motorsport pilots really want. Because of its experience as a racer, Jack synthesized the features for a functional product. Taking into account other sportsmen opinions, he arrived to the conclusion that he needed a larger display, easy to be read and a waterproof and shockproof housing. He linked the name to the famous race “Carrera Panamerica” in Mexico, the toughest endurance competition held on the open road at that time.
“I first heard about the Carrera from Pedro Rodriguez at the Twelve Hours of Sebring, where I was the official Timekeeper. He and his brother Ricardo were two of the fastest, smartest and bravest endurance drivers of all time. To hear them talk of the Carrera, which our brand’s longtime friend Juan-Manuel Fangio had won in 1953, but which had been stopped in the 1955 after a number of fatalities, made my imagination soar. Just the sound of the name itself – elegant, dynamic, easily pronounced in all languages and charged with emotion. I knew then that my new chronograph was the perfect tribute to the legend.”
The first Carrera chronograph was designed in sober black and white. It immediately became a mandatory presence in the hands of the best pilots, being easily recognizable because of the unique details inspired by the 1960s avant-garde, from the pop-art culture, but especially, from the racing world. In 1969, TAG Heuer patented the first Carrera Chronomatic Calibre 11 mechanism and in this way Carrera became the first automatic chronograph in the world. The design was changed in order for the functions to be displayed even better and the mechanism received improvements in terms of accuracy and resistance.
The list of pilots who were associated with Carrera begins with legendary names like Jackie Ickx or Mario Andretti. Then, in 1970, the entire Ferrari team from the F1, of whose official sponsor was TAG Heuer, received a massive gold Carrera engraved with the name and the blood group. Nowadays, the most famous chronograph in motorsport belongs to Alain Prost, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.