Watches have long drawn inspiration from motorsports, but the truth is that automotive partnerships seldom guarantee a spot on the sales podium. Many brands have tried – literally too many to list – and many such collaborations have either crashed and burned or simply gathered rust in display cases, outpaced by more widely relatable product. With this in mind, it’s big news when a brand like TAG Heuer announces a new automotive partnership. But it’s bigger still when the automotive entity in question is none other than German wünderbrand Porsche.
That’s right, TAG Heuer is teaming up with Porsche for a wide-ranging partnership that includes a variety of initiatives including racing and, naturally, a new special-edition chronograph. Based on the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph launched in July of last year, the new Carrera Porsche Chronograph is the first race-themed creation born of the brands’ new relationship.
Maintaining the established 44mm sizing, the Porsche Carrera Chronograph has a red/black/white colorway that matches Porsche Motorsports’ racing colors, a black Porsche-signed ceramic bezel, an asphalt-textured dark grey dial, luminous Arabic numerals, and comes on your choice of a sporty stitched leather strap or a steel bracelet.
The TAG-Porsche pairing is so natural, it’s hard to believe they weren’t partners before. Simply put, these two brands interweave the golden eras of motorsports and mechanical watches. Like the TAG Heuer Carrera, Porsche’s most legendary road car, the 911, was launched in 1963. Briefly called the 901 (until Peugeot claimed they owned three-digit car names with 0 in the middle), the 911 debuted at the Frankfurt Autoshow and represented the first major evolution of the Porsche DNA, replacing the aging but much-loved 356. With the birth of the 911, Porsche would begin a path to becoming one of the most prolific sports car brands in history, and much of that success was born of a “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mentality.
From Ford to Ferrari, Chevrolet, and certainly Porsche, racing domination quickly became the idealized game plan for selling sporty cars to the masses – and Jack Heuer was there for it. Heuer’s leader so loved the theatre and excitement of racing that he strived to embed Heuer into the fabric of top-tier motorsport all over the world. Soon, the Heuer name adorned both the cars and racing suits of world champions and, by 1970, the world watched as Steve McQueen jumped behind the wheel of a Porsche 917 race car in the film Le Mans – all while wearing a now exceedingly collectible Heuer Monaco. Over the course of the resulting decades, both brands would continue their presence in the world of motorsport. And the clout only increased as Porsche expanded into more and more racing series (and produced more and more road cars).
In 1985, when Heuer became TAG Heuer, the brand only dove deeper into motorsports: TAG’s then CEO Mansour Ojjeh was one of four people credited with the birth of the legendary McLaren F1 road car and its eventual dominating performance at Le Mans (you can read a bit more about that here and in HODINKEE Magazine Volume 5).
So yes, TAG and Porsche present as an ideal pairing. But does that racing connection sell watches – and cars – today? The new Carrera Porsche Chronograph makes its case under the hood by using TAG’s own Heuer Automatic 02 movement, which features a vertical clutch and column wheel along with a power reserve of 80 hours and a maximum 12-hour measure for the chronograph.
Like the largely similar Carrera Sport Chronograph, the Carrera Porsche chronograph has a look that blends elements common to a lot of modern and well-loved chronographs. It makes perfect sense that TAG Heuer, one of the world’s original automatic chronograph manufacturers, would base its Porsche-themed watch on the Carrera – and the watch even features a display caseback showing a winding rotor design that looks like the steering wheel of a Porsche 911 (a go-to move for any automotive-related watch design).
Success in this space requires more than a name share and the hope that popularity in one space will beget the same in another. Yes, in some ways, Porsche has never been more popular than it is now, but let’s not forget that it had a racing partnership with Chopard that spanned the brand’s exceedingly successful 919 Hybrid program for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Since exiting WEC at the end of the 919 program, Porsche has since set its sights on Formula E and, from the Porsche Carrera Cup and a continued presence in WEC to virtual racing and even combined presences in key golf and tennis events, it’s a Reese’s-style approach to the partnership; we can expect to see more Porsche in our TAG Heuer (and vice versa).
While I have not had a chance to see the new 44mm Carrera format in person, the Carrera Porsche Chronograph is certainly a handsome design and wouldn’t look at all out of place around a 911, or even around pit lane at Le Mans. While a smaller iteration would nicely complement the oversized 44mm footprint of this first model, I think it’s wise to limit branding and to start with a more general non-limited edition model.
Interestingly, the Carrera Porsche Chronograph will hit U.S. retail this month with a list price of $ 5,850 on leather or $ 6,050 on a steel bracelet, which is a bit less than the original top MSRP of the non-Porsche Carrera Sport Chronograph, so you won’t be paying a heavy premium for the Porsche-ness of it all. With the hopes of dominating wrists and racetracks the world over, it’s a partnership formed in racing’s own rose-tinted past, and only time will tell if the future of this P-car partnership is off to a racing start.
Brand: TAG Heuer
Model: Carrera Porsche Chronograph
Reference Number: CBN2A1F.FC6492 (strap), CBN2A1F.BA0643 (bracelet)
Case Material: Steel
Bezel: Fixed, black ceramic
Dial Color: Grey with asphalt texture
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Steel bracelet or black leather
Caliber: Heuer 02 Automatic
Functions: Hours, minutes, sub-seconds, date, 12-hour chronograph with central seconds.
Power Reserve: 80 hours
Frequency: 28,800 vph
Pricing & Availability
Price: $ 5,850 (leather), $ 6,050 (bracelet)
Availability: February 2021
Limited Edition: No