Thursday, 28 May 2020

BUYING EXPERIENCE: TAG Heuer 2009-2010 Dealer Catalogue , Price List & Monaco V4 Book

In stark contrast to 2018/19, 'Buying Experience' posts for 2020 have been pretty thin on the ground, indeed as it stands I am yet to buy a watch this year. Regular readers will know that last year I bought at least one a month, so this is a pretty big turnaround and the uncertainty of Coronavirus isn't exactly making me feel like splashing the cash at the moment either. But still, there's other (less expensive) things to be bought and bargains to be had if you look hard enough and this one was far too good an opportunity to pass up.

You might remember last year I bought five dealer catalogues spanning 2004-2011 (barring 2009/2010), and I paid £25 for each one. That seemed like a good deal considering the rarity of these things and the prices being asked for more recent editions. So when I came across a 2009/10 dealer catalogue on eBay with a price of just £8.50 I didn't need to think about it much!

Not only that, but the sale also promised an additional 'Monaco' book, though there was no further description or photographs to show exactly what that was. Could it possibly be the Monaco book that I got last year....? It seemed extremely unlikely but what other Monaco book was there? I had no idea, but I wanted it whatever it was... and if it did turn out to be the same one, I knew I would be able to dispose of it via the Calibre11 forum.

Sure enough, the package arrived and... it wasn't the same Monaco book, which was good - because I don't need another one and instead I got a nice little book about the Monaco V4. Truth be told I'd have been more than happy to pay £8.50 for the Monaco book alone - probably double that even, so this deal was pretty damned sweet if you ask me.

Like in some of the older S/EL and 2000 Series catalogues, TAG Heuer used some 'tissue paper' pages to add to the experience, in particular in the first of these three pictures you can see how they've used it to show detail in the movement. Very cool.

The only slight disappointment is a little bit of damage to the cover (something has dented the front near the spine as you can see in the top picture) and there was obviously a DVD included with the catalogue as there is a foam circle in the back cover. Still, I can't exactly complain can I?

I must admit I was surprised how much difference there was between the 2008/09-2009/10-2010/11 catalogues, not so much in the watches, although there were definitely comings and goings... but all the index pages were redesigned with ambassadors moving between ranges (Lewis Hamilton represents the Carrera in this one), which seems unnecessary given that this was just for the dealers to look at, but still, I guess if you've got a marketing department you might as well give them something to do.

The first thing I noticed though was that in the 2009/10 catalogue the Formula 1 WAH1110 was a baton dial, whereas in the 2010/11 edition it had changed to the oversized Arabics. I still don't know why they did that and kept the same part number, such an odd decision as it looks completely different.

As you can probably tell I'm super happy with my ridiculously small investment and how lucky is it that this was the only one I was missing from 2004-2011? I'm still smarting over losing that ring bound 1988 catalogue last year though.... 

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

FEATURE: The Weight Issue

I've been meaning to do a post about 'weights' for a long time, but never quite got around to it... and then someone asked me what the weight of one particular watch was so I thought, right - let's get it done. Now obviously I don't expect everyone to be fascinated by what each of my watches weighs, but it could be useful if you are looking to buy something 'similar' to one of my watches and actually some of the results came as a bit of a surprise one way or the other.

According to YouTube watch guru Jody (at 'Just One More Watch', a channel I view regularly even though most of the watches are 'micro-brand fluff') the sweet spot for wristwatches is 150g. So I've decided to divide the watches into three categories, the lightweights (0-100gm), the light-middleweights (101-130gm), the middleweights (131-160gm) and the heavyweights (161gm+).


Five of the twenty five watches I have available at the moment (3 of my watches are stuck in TAG Heuer limbo for the forseeable future) fall into the lightweight category.

01. Classic Formula 1 quartz with a resin case on a resin strap (35g)

02. 2000 Series Multigraph quartz on a rubber strap (72g)

03. 3000 Series quartz Steel on a bracelet (92g)

04. 3000 Series quartz Two-Tone on a bracelet (92g)

05. Aquaracer PVD Titanium Calibre 5 on a textile strap (95g)


06. 4000 Series quartz on a bracelet (105g)

07. Microtimer quartz on a rubber strap (106g)

08. S/EL quartz watch on a bracelet (108g)

09. Carrera Titanium Calibre 16 chronograph on a textile strap (110g)

10. Aquaracer Calibre S quartz chronograph on a rubber strap (113g)

11. 6000 Series quartz on a bracelet (115g)

12. 1500 GMT quartz on a bracelet (116g)

13. Classic Aquaracer quartz on a bracelet (123g)

14. S/EL Two-Tone quartz chronograph on a bracelet (125g)


15. 2000 Exclusive quartz on a bracelet (131g)

16. Aquagraph Calibre 60 chronograph on a rubber strap (133g)*

17. Pilot quartz chronograph on a bracelet (136g)

18. 6000 Series quartz chronograph on a bracelet (140g)

19. 2000 Exclusive quartz chronograph on a bracelet (143g)

20. Carrera Heuer 01 chronograph on a rubber strap (150g)

21. Kirium quartz chronograph on a bracelet (154g)

22. F1 Kirium quartz chronograph on a bracelet (156g)


23. Link Searacer quartz chronograph on a bracelet (167g)

24. Aquaracer Chronotimer quartz chronograph on a bracelet (176g)

25. Aquaracer 500M quartz on a bracelet (189g)

*My Aquagraph is currently living on a rubber strap and accordingly weighs in at a relatively light 133g, but on the bracelet it would easily have been the heaviest watch here weighing in at a startling 225g, 50% up on the 150g 'sweet spot'.

I hope this post is useful to some of you and particularly to the person who asked about the Link Searacer - thanks for your interest.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

FEATURE: Are TAG Heuer 'Milking' the Carrera?

Carreras one and all...

I received an email the other day, with a suggestion for a post (I like emails like that, since I'm always on the lookout for ideas - so thank you!), it said something like...

"I recently read a post on a blog about a watch company milking a model line (for example AP with the Royal Oak , or Omega with the Speedmaster') and I wondered if you thought TAG Heuer were milking the Carrera?"

The short answer to that is, of course, yes. But what I found more interesting is the reasoning behind it.

You only have to visit the Calibre 11 forum to see that the Carrera means different things to different people, on the one hand you have those who only value the '60s' style Carreras, with some ardent traditionalists refusing to accept the modern Carrera as a Carrera at all since it no longer meets the original design criteria (legibility over everything). On the other you have the more modern Carreras like the one featured below, and then of course we have the much more recent 'modular' Carrera with its skeletonised dial, multitude of finishes and even (at the higher end) tourbillons.

On top of that we have the Connected Smartwatch which is (somewhat unnecessarily in my view) designated as a Carrera. I have to say I think that is a bit of a nonsense as it really is its own entity and doesn't need to be nor should it be lumped in with the Carrera history... and yet, fitted with its Calibre 16 chronograph module what else would you call it? Hmm, tricky eh?

So sure, TAG Heuer are guilty as charged of 'milking' the Carrera name for all it's worth... but, honestly can you blame them?

Firstly, the watch industry is now in a state of MASSIVE conservatism. For nigh on ten years the companies have looked backwards and spewed out a constant stream of re-issues, anniversary pieces and heritage models. This is all well and good, but where in the past this was a small part of a more forward looking business now the roles have reversed to the point where even the watch magazines are starting to roll their eyes in frustration.

And those that do try to do something genuinely new have found it heavy going, the obvious example being Audemars Piquet and their tragically badly named 'Code 11:59' (whatever that is supposed to mean). I mean, in light of that particular debacle I cannot honestly blame AP for folding their arms and saying 'Fine, you want Royal Oaks, you can have as many as you like - but don't tell us we never try anything new.'

It's not that the 'Code 11:59' was a great watch, it certainly wasn't - but such was the glee with which the watch community ripped the thing to shreds and threw it back in APs face that the other watch companies must have watched in absolute horror and cast glances over their shoulders at their own R&D departments. And if they had any 'new' model ranges in the works, at best they would have wanted to give some serious thought as to whether it was wise to push ahead or not.

Watch companies (and indeed many other kinds of companies) are very keen on pushing their history as a sign of quality and reassurance. For instance this year TAG Heuer are celebrating their 160th anniversary, some other watch companies can claim a similar vintage and some even longer (Breguet, since 1775), but really it's only the last sixty years that has any real relevance.

If we look back to the 1980s, TAG Heuer's model line-up was made up almost entirely of new ranges. This was the time of the S/EL, the Kirium, the 4000 and 6000 Series, yes the 2000 survived from the Heuer days, right up until the 2000s when it was rebranded as the Aquaracer. Many forget that the Monaco and Carrera lines were discontinued before TAG bought the Heuer watch company and they weren't brought back until almost ten years had passed, and even then it was as a niche model with a very limited model range.

Soon the Carrera range expanded to include new models, most of which seem to have proved acceptable to the traditionalists, but all that changed at the 2015 Bazelworld watch fair when TAG Heuer (under the stewardship of Jean Claude Biver) announced a new kind of Carrera altogether.

I was spellbound and instantly resolved to buy the Heuer 01 Carrera for myself, but others were not so keen and this is an argument that has splintered the Calibre 11 forum ever since as TAG Heuer have announced more and more Carreras in ever less 'traditional' designs. Nowadays you can buy 'Phantom' Carreras, models which pile black on black on black until actually being able to read the time is secondary to the overall aesthetic. In the process becoming the absolute antithesis of what makes a 'Carrera' a 'Carrera'.

Part of me truly thinks that the Heuer 01 Carrera should have been given a new name, but I can see why they didn't go that route. Yes the model range is confused as hell with watches that look nothing like each other sharing the same name, but from a marketing point of view and from a 'risk' point of view it made total sense to call these new watches 'Carreras' and to tap into the Carrera heritage buzz. I bet in hindsight Audemars Piguet kinda wish they had called the 'Code 11:59' the Royal Oak Supernova... or something, anything that meant it couldn't be simply dismissed out of hand. 

Besides, it's become 'the norm' now that watch companies have to keep things simple for the consumer, so having two racing chronograph lines was a no-no. I mean that's why the Autavia is now being pitched more as a pilot's watch than it ever was before, and also why we have the new 'Autavias' that have little to do with the Autavias of old.

So yes, sure, TAG Heuer are milking the Carrera for all it's worth, but all they're really doing is keeping their heads down, trying to make a crust and trying not to do what Audemars Piguet did, because while putting out skeletonised, phantom Carreras might annoy a few people, it doesn't lead to the mass lynching you can expect if you try to launch a genuinely new model range in 2020.

Besides, watch companies are businesses. As much as people want them to be something else, that's what they are and while some companies (Rolex, Patek Phillipe) enjoy the luxury of waiting lists and stagnant / consistent (depending on your point of view) model ranges, some... and TAG Heuer in particular (perhaps because they are on the entry-level end of things and perhaps because part of their brand message is that they are 'avant garde'...) need to constantly bring out new variations of existing models to keep the public interested.

How much is too much though? Well, I guess if you look at the Carrera as a whole then yes it looks like a lot of watches. But if you look at each subset of the Carrera individually it's not outrageous, and actually I think perhaps it looks a lot worse than it really is at the moment as TAG Heuer are replacing the Heuer 01 Carreras with the new Heuer 02 movement seemingly across the board.

Sure there are a lot of Carreras, but it strikes me that people only moan about 'too many' Carreras when there's too many Carreras that they don't actually like. And generally speaking it seems like it's fans of older models moaning about the vast array of 'modular' Carrreras rather than the other way around.

Y.T.I.N.M.T: Your Testarossa is not my Testarossa!

So actually, given that the Carrera name represents quite a large range of watches that could easily have at least three different names, it isn't all that bad... and I for one don't really see the problem with it. 

Besides, let's face it, the Carrera 'battle' is long lost...  realistically, nowadays 'Carrera' is just an umbrella term for TAG Heuer Racing Chronograph, just as Aquaracer is a blanket term for TAG Heuer Dive Watch. I get that that statement will infuriate some, but I don't think there's anything unusual in that. I don't think too many watch companies have competing model lines, do they? Right or wrong that's what it is, and I'm afraid until the watch industry starts looking forwards again (if it ever does) that's how it's going to be.

See, back in the 80s it was much easier, TAG Heuer had chronographs in the 2000, 3000, 6000, S/EL, and Kirium lines. Watches weren't obsessively defined by 'brand message' and put into boxes like they are now. So whereas you used to have several different models with different case shapes, now you get three different watches sold as Carreras and multiple versions of each.

I think everyone would be happier if a Carrera was allowed to be a Carrera again... I'd much rather see new model lines with different case shapes, but it's not going to happen. 'TAG Heuer launches new Carrera' has so much more impact on social media than 'TAG Heuer launches new Quantum Biscuit'. And yes, I'm afraid social media has to be brought up because it is the root of the problem.

The AP 'Royal Oak' was not an instant success, but without social media to rip it to pieces it was able to grow into the icon that it is. Yes, Facebook and Twitter allow watch companies to get their message out to their customers, but it also means new products are instantly hailed or damned (there's rarely anything in between) and so we return to the problem of 'conservatism'.

I don't know the answer, I'm not even sure there is one... but the watch companies can't trade on the past forever, because people get old and die. Sooner or later they need to start creating new 'icons' because why on Earth should a twenty year old kid care about Steve McQueen and the Monaco? But then, when was the last time you heard someone say 'I wish (insert watch company here) would release a 'new' watch'? No, you only hear 'I wish (insert watch company here) would re-issue such and such watch'.

Maybe the reality is that the time of the wristwatch is running out and all there's left to do is recycle the past? 

Thursday, 21 May 2020

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: TAG Heuer Formula 1 'Carbon Dial' Quartz Watch


While the original resin cased TAG Heuer Formula 1s may not be everyone's cup of tea, they remain enormously popular on eBay and generally command at least double their original list price, in some cases many times more. Clearly then something was very 'right' about those watches and it doesn't take an in depth survey to realise that one of, if not the most attractive element of those original 'plastic' watches was the bright colours they came in. Quite simply, they had the 'fun' factor in spades.

Contrarily of course, my own resin-cased 1980s Formula 1 is black, with a black dial and a black strap - but I do intend to add a more colourful model to my collection at some point, although it may have to wait a little while since this brand new F1 model is grabbing my attention pretty damn hard just at the moment!

Bright colours aside, I'm a sucker for a carbon fibre effect dial, and there really haven't been all that many TAG Heuer's which have that feature, in fact I can only think of two off the top of my head, one is a limited edition Monaco and the other is my titanium cased Carrera... and of course those 'carbon' Aquaracers that came out last year.

It's funny, really... I'm quite sure this, the limited edition Monaco and my Carrera have dials which 'mimic' carbon fibre, so it's odd that such a fuss was made about the dials on the Aquaracers wasn't it? I mean I was as guilty as everyone else, but I think the key difference was that those watches had some genuine carbon elements and as such it seemed more deceitful to have a 'faux' carbon dial. Also, it just wasn't done particularly well and it looked like newspaper print at high magnification!


The watch comes on either a standard F1 bracelet (BA0842) or a perforated rubber strap (FT8024), and for my money it looks better with the strap. That said, if you are unsure it's always cheaper in the long run to buy the watch on the bracelet and pick up the strap - I'm pretty sure I enquired about this rubber strap last year and it was relatively inexpensive. I think that's what I would do, although I'm pretty sure it would end up on the rubber strap fairly indefinitely. It works better with the yellow rehaut and that is where my hesitation comes with this watch.

Don't get me wrong, I really like it and I think it looks great. I really hope the yellow is nice and bright and it pops off the dial in exactly the way the Aston Martin totally didn't. But for me, personally... I can't help thinking that as I already have a carbon fibre dial Carrera and a yellow dial Aquaracer Calibre S, isn't this too much like just combining two watches that I already have in my collection?

Leaving that aside though I still think TAG Heuer are onto a winner here, this is probably the best looking Formula 1 we've seen since... well, since the blue dial Red Bull! The only thing I have noticed is that the batons are a bit all over the place, cut to different lengths to accommodate the date wheel and chronograph dials, but that's no different on the Red Bull, it just seems to jump out at me more here for some reason.

I like that they've gone with a red running seconds hand, but the 'Formula 1' text could have been white/grey to match the 'TAG Heuer' text on the left hand side of the 1/10 subdial, that bit of red isn't really adding anything and it looks quite hard to read on these pictures. This watch also has a ceramic bezel which is a welcome inclusion and I'm sure TAG Heuer will sell plenty of these - I just hope this isn't going to be another case of blink and you'll miss it, because that's getting kinda annoying now. Hopefully the fact that Goldsmiths have this on their website suggests there might be a reasonable amount of stock available for this one.

Price for the CAZ101AC.FT8024 is £1495 and £1650 for the CAZ101AZ.BA0842, which makes this a somewhat more affordable alternative to the Bell & Ross Renault Sport limited edition pieces you might have seen on Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg's wrists last year...

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

ON THE WRIST: Pagani Design PD-1617 'Aquaracer Homage' NH35 Watch


Well, I bet you weren't expecting this? To be honest, neither was I, but see... I regularly watch the 'Just One More Watch' YouTube channel and while most of the micro-brand watches Jody reviews do little more than pass the time while I'm eating my lunchtime sandwiches, this was bound to pique my interest being a blatant TAG Heuer Aquaracer knock off.

I remember when I first saw one of these and straight away it occurred to me that it was ridiculous that they were able to openly market something so similar. Why bother to fake an Aquaracer when you could buy a box load of these and put a TAG Heuer logo on the dial? Well, we'll come back to that later... but for now let's take an honest look at this Pagani Design PD-1617.

Like the real Aquaracer this one is 43mm in diameter, but right off the bat I have to say I don't think this would fool anybody who was familiar with the real deal, but (hopefully) it's not intended to. All Pagani Design are really doing is exploiting a growing market for cheap 'luxury' goods by producing 'look-a-like' watches at ridiculously low prices. They don't just make TAG Heuer style watches either; obviously they sell Rolex Submariner homages and even a very nice Yacht Master (which I must admit I kinda hovered over for a while on eBay) alongside their own creations - which admittedly probably don't make up the majority of their sales. But crucially they are not passing them off as 'genuine', and I'd much rather someone who wants an Aquaracer but can't afford one bought one of these rather than a 'fake' TAG Heuer..

So what are we talking about here price wise? What do you reckon? If I didn't know and somebody showed me this watch I would honestly have guessed somewhere between £200 and £300 pounds, maybe even a little bit more. But I would be way off. This watch was bought off eBay, brand new for £74.99. Let's think about that for a moment, the cheapest genuine TAG Heuer rubber strap costs about £45, the last one I bought cost £115, the textile strap for my WAY208C Aquaracer cost £220. You could have three of these watches for the same money as one textile strap!

Right, so it must be garbage then, right? Not at all. For a start, this has a ceramic bezel. It also has a very solid and weighty steel bracelet, which of itself doesn't necessary mean anything (I do chuckle when people selling watches on eBay say it's 'really heavy' as if that must be a good thing) but it does give the impression that the watch is 'substantial' if nothing else.

I was under the impression that this watch was powered by a Seiko NH35 movement, but it actually carries a Seagull ST6. That's not something I am familiar with but I understand it's fairly decent although the power reserve tops out at a fairly lowly 30hrs. It also has a date function and a cyclops, the typical 'Aquaracer' horizontally slatted dial and the bracelet features a push button milled deployment clasp. Indeed, you have to wonder how they can actually make it, sell it at this price and make a profit? Or perhaps you start to wonder exactly how much it costs to make a genuine Aquaracer in comparison?

Admittedly the lume is a little bit of a let down in comparison to a real Aquaracer, and that rotating bezel is not the best, it's got a lot of play in it and it doesn't want to sit square (then again neither does my 500M Aquaracer!). But still, let's not forget the price of this watch: £74.99. And you know what, if you can get watches like this for that money there really is no excuse for wearing dreadful fashion watches like MVMT and Daniel Wellington.

Is it morally reprehensible though?

Well I guess here we get into a complex ethical issue, is it right that TAG Heuer can spend millions of pounds building their brand by sponsoring sporting events, paying for advertising and enabling 'brand ambassadors', not to mention spending a fortune on R&D only for someone else to copy their product and sell it for a tiny fraction of the price?

No, but unfortunately we live in a world where the second biggest economy in the world doesn't give two hoots about intellectual property, which is why 'branding' is more important than 'design' these days. People can rip off your designs all they like, but it doesn't actually become a 'fake' until they put your branding on it.

And that's where this get's a little uncomfortable, because looking on eBay at these watches I did come across a listing where you can buy the Pagani Design PD-1617 with TAG Heuer branding on it (I have sent a link to TAG Heuer, though I haven't had a response so I'm guessing my contact is furloughed at the moment) and unfortunately that does raise a red flag. I'm sure Pagani themselves aren't involved in this scam and I wouldn't dream of suggesting otherwise, but they are facilitating the fakers. That said, there's any number of companies making 'Submariner' homages and I'm sure you can probably find some of them with Rolex branding applied, so it's rather unfair to single out one brand.

I get that TAG Heuer and other watch brands like them have a lot of overheads and those overheads are very important at the end of the day because they generate the luxury price tag that TAG Heuer can charge, but I'd be lying if I said handling this watch doesn't make you question the actual cost of a real Aquaracer (and it certainly makes you question the use of cheap pressed clasps on £1000+ Formula 1 models). If they can make it this good for £74.99, what could they do for £150?

And I can't help wondering exactly why it is that they are selling it so damn cheaply, when it feels so much better than it is. I guess the micro-brand market is a crowded place these days and 'affordable' watch companies have really stepped up their game over the last few years. And yes, to be honest I can totally see why someone might want to spend their £1800 budget on a collection of twenty look-a-like watches rather than one Calibre 5 Aquaracer, even though I won't be one of them.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

SPOTLIGHT ON: TAG Heuer 2000 Professional Quartz Watch


The 2000 Series 254.006 is another one of those models that was carried over from the Heuer days and subsequently given an updated dial with the (then) new logo. Since this dates the watch to the mid 1980s it's no surprise to learn that the watch is battery powered, indeed such was the novelty and perhaps even 'cache' of this that they even placed the word 'quartz' on the dial - can you imagine such a thing in 2020?

The dial is fairly simple, with a nice 6-9-12 layout for the subdials and while these pictures suggest the background is white, other pictures I've seen suggest a slightly creamier tone.

While the watch isn't exactly gorgeous, I must admit the more I look at it the more I'm warming to it. The shot above in particular seems to show it from it's best angle and also shows off the classic 80s bracelet. The bezel is bound to be this watch's 'Marmite' factor, it's an interesting one isn't it? Not quite as spectacularly awful as the similar one with cross headed screws for sure, but still... I guess we could be generous and say the style hasn't dated well, but it does rather bring to mind some other classic watches of the 70s and 80s doesn't it?

The watch looks surprisingly chunky for a quartz and as this side shot (below) shows, the crown is positioned bizarrely low down on the case side. I can't help thinking that might be rather uncomfortable if like me you wear your watch right up at the top of your wrist next to your hand. I don't think I've ever seen another 2000 that looks like this and it rather makes me wonder why it was necessary for the crown and pushers to be placed like that.

By contrast the hands seem rather delicate don't they? Indeed the more I looked at these pictures the more I started to wonder if I wasn't looking at some cobbled together Franken-watch, but a bit of Googling seems to suggest the Heuer version of this watch was just the same - even the crown and pusher arrangement matches up. 

I've had no luck trying to find an open sale for one of these (just a lot of dead links on 'Rebonz' and the usual Chrono24 'you searched for one specific watch but we're going to show you everything with Heuer in the title' nonsense) but I did find a completed sale on '' which had an asking price of $455. This gives us some information about the watch, apparently it has a 36mm bezel diameter and a 40mm case size which strikes me as rather generous for a watch from the 80s - let's not forget the men's resin case Formula 1 of the period was only 35mm so this must have been quite a beast in it's day.

Pre 'TAG Heuer' 254.006 with Heuer logo on the dial

One thing that is somewhat curious about this watch is that it clearly has some kind of date window magnification and yet it doesn't appear to have an 'external' cyclops such as you would find on a modern Aquaracer. It looks like perhaps there is a magnifying glass between the date wheel and the date window aperture, which seems like a great idea. I've often wondered why they don't put the cyclops on the inside of the glass (assuming there is room for the hands of course) as it would be so much neater and much more aesthetically pleasing. But then, maybe this is the reason why the watch is so thick and the movement positioned so far back in the case? If so, then I can see why they didn't continue with that particular design...