The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary recalls a race
too dangerous to continue—and a watch too elegant to forget.

Long before there was a Mexican Grand Prix on the F1 circuit, there was the Carrera Panamericana, an annual road race that began in 1950 to celebrate the completion of the Mexican section of the Pan-American Highway. Sponsored by Mexico’s National Automobile Association and encouraged by the Mexican government to increase tourism, it was a perilous, nine-stage, five-day, 2,096-mile, border-to-border trek through major climate and elevation changes that ran from Juárez in the north all the way
to Cuauhtémoc on the Guatemalan border to the south.

In 1951, Time magazine said the route consisted of “hairpin curves, rollercoaster dips and erratic paving...bone-jarring at tourist speeds, and highly dangerous for even the most experienced racer.” After the 1955 LeMans racing disaster, authorities decided the Carrera Panamericana was too dangerous to continue.

During its five-year sojourn, however, the alluringly dangerous race attracted F1, Rally and NASCAR drivers from all over the world as well as European and American manufacturers. It drew close to two million spectators, was marked by a shocking 27 fatal- ities, and inspired two of Mexico’s greatest racing drivers, brothers Pedro and Ricardo RodrÍguez, for whom Mexico’s Grand Prix circuit, the Autódromo Hermanos RodrÍguez, was named.

When Jack Heuer met the RodrÍguez brothers at Twelve Hours of Sebring in Florida in 1962, they regaled him with tales of the short-lived Carrera Panamericana, which in turn inspired him to create a wristwatch reflecting the spirit of that legendary race. One year later, Heuer debuted what would be- come a legend in its own right, the eponymous Heuer Carrera Chronograph. Of the name, Jack said, “I loved not only its sexy sound but also its multiple meanings, which include road, race, course and career. All very much Heuer territory.”

For 60 years, the Carrera Chronograph set the standard for chronograph design. This year TAG Heuer celebrates this genre-defining timepiece by releasing the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary. A faithful reinterpretation of the highly coveted Carrera 2447 SN of the late 1960s, this new version features a silver, sun-ray-brushed dial and a silver flange with a 60-second/minute scale as well as three contrasting black subdials, a configuration known as a panda dial. The subdial at 3 o’clock is a minute chronograph counter; the one at 6 o’clock is a permanent second indicator; and the one at 9 o’clock is an hour chronograph counter. All three have silver hands and markings. A masterpiece in legibility, the dial is complete with rhodi- um-plated, faceted, polished hour and minute hands, a black lacquered central hand and the Heuer logo, also in black.

The new Carrera’s 39mm polished steel case with fixed bezel boasts sleek lines throughout. A raised profile sapphire-crystal, referred to as a Glassbox, and polished steel crown and round pushers contribute to the watch’s cool, retro feel. Its screw-down steel and crystal caseback reveals the Heuer 02, TAG Heuer’s 80-hour in-house automatic chronograph caliber movement, and is adorned with a limited number special engraving that reads “TAG HEUER LIMITED EDITION, XXX/600,” as well as a note of the watch’s 100-meter water resistance. Also visible are the movement’s Geneva Stripes decoration, its column wheel—the device that makes the activation of a chronograph precise—and a special Carrera 60th Anniversary rotor. Presented on a calfskin leather racing strap with steel pin buckle, the limited-edition piece comes in a racing-red box that includes Jack Heuer’s famous quote about the Carrera name.

With a run of only 600 pieces, the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary is a highly collectible celebration of the enduring spirit of racing and the first entry in a season of releases planned to mark this milestone in Swiss watchmaking and racing history.

Christen Fisher
James Free Jewelers 2023/2024