TAG Heuer Announces the Carrera Skipper
Reviving an attractive and rare vintage reference.
2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the beloved racing chronograph created by Jack Heuer, the Carrera. It has been an exciting journey so far, with a range of commemorative editions, including sympathetic remakes and a multitude of modern reinterpretations that have been executed so well, they feel like worthy and improved successors of the same family.
As we enter the seventh month of the year, the brand has unveiled what could be the most thrilling commemorative edition for the Carrera’s 60th anniversary – the reintroduction of the ultra-rare Skipper reference.
Before delving into the modern Skipper, it’s worth discussing the origin of this watch. Originally debuted in 1968, the Heuer Carrera Skipper ref. 7754, affectionately known as the “Skipperera,” was created to commemorate the victory of the Intrepid yacht team, for whom the brand served as the official timekeeper, in the 1967 America’s Cup. The watchmaker has therefore drawn from the colours of the Intrepid, such as teal on the deck of the sailboat, and incorporated other vibrant hues like orange, resulting in an unusually cheerful and attractive design.
Considering the challenges associated with acquiring rare references, which can be costly and often risky, remakes and modern reinterpretations hold solid meaning. Notably, collaborations between the watchmakers and magazines have resulted in interesting limited editions, such as the Skipper “Dato” by Hodinkee in 2017 and the Skipper “Blue Dreamer” by The Rake & Revolution in 2018. These references offer modern collectors an opportunity to own a Skipper without enduring the risks and costs associated with purchasing rare vintage watches.
However, the most accessible version of the Skipper has to be the latest interpretation reintroduced by the watchmaker itself to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Carrera. Fortunately, this version will not be a limited edition but will be part of the regular production catalogue.
At first sight, the latest Carrera Skipper is undeniably attractive due to its multi-colour palette. The dial features a dark blue hue, while the tri-colour registers comprise green, teal, and orange. These colour combinations are reminiscent of the original Skipper, evoking the same appeal. Additionally, the case size of 39 mm retains a retro charm. Although larger than the 35 mm vintage original, it still feels compact enough among modern watches, particularly for a chronograph, to exude a compelling vintage feel.
What distinguishes the modern Skipper from its original vintage counterpart? It lies in the details. The new Skipper presents a more intricate dial layout, which can be viewed from either a positive or negative perspective, depending on one’s preferences. For instance, the dial incorporates a domed, raised chapter ring that adds visual depth compared to the original design. Additionally, the dial and registers exhibit a two-step construction, with markers that have been emboldened and made more prominent. Furthermore, the new design includes an additional sub-dial at six o’clock and a date window.
Put simply, the modern Skipper is essentially a variant of the current 60th anniversary Carrera “Glassbox” model, distinguished by its unique dial palette. This also means that the movement powering the Skipper, the TH20-06, is a variation of the TH20-00 movement found in the “Glassbox.” The main difference between the two movements lies in the function of the register at three o’clock, where the typical 30-minute chronograph counter has been modified to measure 15 minutes in the Skipper. This alteration is a nod to the Skipper’s original purpose, which was designed for regatta countdowns where competitors must cross the start line within 15 minutes of the first horn sounding.
On the other hand, the TH20-00 movement was developed by the accomplished watchmaker Carole Forestier-Kasapi as an enhanced iteration of the brand’s long standing Heuer-02 movement. It features a column-wheel chronograph mechanism with a vertical clutch construction, and it operates as an automatic movement with bi-directional winding.
My first impression of the new Skipper is great because I love its palette. It manages to combine a range of colours and appear vibrant, yet it doesn’t feel cluttered and remains refreshing. It’s a well-executed design.
However, initially, I was not entirely convinced by the execution of the details. While I appreciate the added visual depth on the dial, I felt that the new Skipper might be too complicated and modern, lacking the simplicity of the original design. To truly assess the success of a modern interpretation, it is best to compare it side by side with the original, as a poorly executed version would immediately appear jarring.
Fortunately, upon seeing the original and modern versions side by side, I couldn’t help but feel that the modern iteration is a worthy descendant of the original. It manages to convey just enough charm of the original through its palette, while also standing out with its own contemporary styling. The only debatable aspect is the inclusion of a seconds and date sub-dial at six o’clock. While the addition of a date is not an issue, as there have been many attractive vintage Heuer models with a date, the placement could have been improved, such as moving it to 12 o’clock.
TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper
Movement: TH20-06; automatic; 80 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Case: 39 x 13.9 mm; steel; water resistant to 100 m
Strap: Fabric strap
Availability: Starting July 2023
Price: CHF 6,600
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FROM THE SHOP
|Movement||Self-winding caliber BR.CAL-301; 42-hour power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date|
|Case||41mm; CuAI7Si2 bronze; water resistant to 100m|
|Dial||Sunray brushed with applied, gold-plated indices|
|Strap||Black calfskin; satin polished bronze folding clasp|
|Limited Edition||Limited edition of 50 pieces|