Hiroshi Fujiwara is a man whose word and opinion go a long way in contemporary streetwear and design circles. He’s also an inveterate watch guy who talked about his collection in the first volume of the HODINKEE Magazine. Fujiwara’s interest in watches doesn’t end with collecting, though: He’s also designed them. Today, we’re taking a look at the second limited-edition collaboration between TAG Heuer and Fujiwara’s multidisciplinary design imprint, Fragment. Once again, it’s a chronograph that utilizes TAG Heuer’s automatic Caliber Heuer 02 movement, but unlike his tribute to the 2447NT, the watch we are looking at calls to mind Heuer’s automatic racing chronographs from the very late 1960s and the ’70s. It’s limited to 500 pieces.
The idea was to redesign a vintage-inspired sports watch in an ultra-modern way. I was especially attentive to details such as the bracelet links and the red sapphire case back, which is one of my favorite features. I aimed to infuse the essence of historical watch design into this contemporary piece. I call it modern vintage.
Many of us have our own notions regarding the watches that define the different eras of the last century of watch design. Wristwatches were such a big, and basically given, part of the culture in the time before we all went digital – virtually everybody wore one. And there was plenty of diversity in design in any given epoch. For me, the Heuer C-shaped cases of the very late 1960s and 1970s represent a kind of idealized 1970s watch. The rounded sides and cut-out lugs may have seemed otherworldly to someone more familiar with, say, the round Carrera ref. 2447 of the early ’60s. But looking back at the ovoid C-cases today, they scream ‘70s to me.
With the advent of the Caliber 11 automatic movement in 1969, Heuer tapped the C-shaped case, though there were also manually wound uses of it and even quartz examples. The outline of a C-shape case is linked to numerous classic designs: In the ref. 1163 Autavia alone, we have the “Jo Siffert,” the “Orange Boy,” and the “Viceroy.” The C-shape style case also saw use in the automatic Carrera. Who could forget the 18-karat ref. 1158s given by Jack Heuer to Ferrari Formula One drivers during the 1970s Ferrari-Heuer partnership. I’ll never forget the day I talked to Mario Andretti about his example.
Fujiwara’s design combines a ceramic tachymeter bezel with a red-accented dial and a red sapphire crystal caseback, which offers a view onto the Caliber Heuer 02 column wheel chronograph with vertical clutch. His design channels the energy of Heuer’s 1970s classics but with modern updates. But if there’s one vintage Heuer that I’d say it makes me think of most, it’s the ref. 1163V “Viceroy.”
It feels less cluttered to me than an actual vintage Autavia from the ’70s, and I get the sense that this would be a legible watch to own and wear, especially during the daytime. Its two black embossed sub-dials match the black dial, and touches of color come from the red chronograph hand, the subtle red markers on the dial, and the red-accented hour and minute hands, which have a very vintage vibe. For the most part, one’s eyes are viewing white on black or red on black, both of which have good visual contrast. The use of just two sub-dials, as opposed to three, and the positioning of the date at six o’clock make for a nicely balanced and symmetrical interface. The fact that TAG Heuer has taken its Caliber Heuer 02 chronograph movement down from its usual three sub-dials to two does, however, mean that there is no running seconds hand – just the counters for 30 minutes and for 12 hours. About this, I say: So what? If you want a running seconds hand, you can always run the chronograph. Given the option, I’d rather have a twelve-hour counter than another seconds hand.
One interesting aspect of the TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph – and of the way that it is being presented today – is the notable absence of the Autavia or other TAG Heuer family name. The current Autavia case bears the round design that predates the C-shape. While TAG Heuer did make some C-shaped Autavias in the Aughts, the shape has most recently become associated with the current generation of TAG Heuer Formula 1 watches. Fujiwara’s design shares the case style seen in the Formula 1, but adds a pretty major upgrade in the aforementioned in-house column-wheel chronograph with vertical clutch. TAG Heuer’s second collaboration with Fragment Design may just be its coolest C-shaped watch since the ’70s.
The TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph. Reference CAZ201A.BA0641. 44mm brushed and fine-polished stainless steel case with 100 meters of water resistance. Caliber Heuer 02 column-wheel chronograph with vertical clutch, beating at 28,800 vph, with 80 hours of power reserve. Black opaline dial with embossed chronograph minute and hour totalizers and date window at six o’clock. Polished, fine-brushed, five-row steel bracelet with butterfly folding clasp. Comes in a TAG Heuer x Fragment Design branded box. Limited to 500 pieces. Available July 27, 2020. Pricing TBD.