Saturday, 24 March 2018

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Carrera Heuer 02 GMT 'Batman' Chronograph

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Unlike the Autavia GMT (there's still some 'hopeful' speculation over on the Calibre11 forum that that one just may be a bad joke...) this new Carrera 'Batman' really looks the business. Sure the black/blue colour theme isn't to everyone's taste (but then what is?) and of course there will be the obvious criticism that the 'Batman' scheme is Rolex specific

Well, it's not as if TAG Heuer haven't used this scheme before, both the Formula One Calibre 7 and the David Guetta Special Edition both used the blue/black bezel scheme and not much was said. But then I guess it's a different matter when the scheme is rolled out on a luxury model on the very day that Rolex announce they are discontinuing their own version.

I'm sure there would have been murmurings too if TAG had used the 'Pepsi' red/blue bezel scheme, even if Heuer produced red/blue schemes way in the past does that actually mean anything to the majority of TAG's audience? It means something to Heuer afficionados sure, but it doesn't actually prove anything. So what, they made a red/blue bezel in the past, big deal. Like it or not the 'Pepsi' bezel (like the cyclops) is a 'Rolex' thing, and when the Aquaracer GMT came out, I'm betting a lot of people saw it in the stores and thought 'Oh wow, cool, it's like the Rolex (I can't afford) - I want one'.

After all, how many variations can there realistically be on a GMT bezel, you either go for a single colour, or you go for red/blue, blue/black or red/black, all of which are 'recognized' as Rolex schemes. Sure you could go mad and go for yellow/green, but you won't sell many outside of Brazil.

A lot of people are beefing about the Autavia GMT because 'historically' there's never been a non-chronograph version (ergo TAG are pissing all over the Autavia's legacy). That to me is irrelevant, the problem with the Autavia GMT is it's ugly and it doesn't work well as a design - to be fair, I feel the same way about the three handed (so called) Mutant Carrera module in the Connected. If the three handed Autavia looked nice, then I honestly wouldn't have a problem with it. 

I think to be honest, launching a three handed Autavia was always going to be slightly difficult, and it perhaps should have been approached a lot more carefully than by just chucking the Calibre 7 movement inside and giving it a divisive bezel design as a starting point. 

To be honest, I really don't think it matters two hoots whether Heuer made a blue/black bezel in the past or not, the question that matters is does it look good now?

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Clearly on the Carrera it looks great, I think I prefer it on the rubber strap, but that's been par for the course for me on just about every modern Carrera I've seen. I just don't like the way the lugs form a shoulder on the bracelet, when the rubber smooths it out in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

I must admit it would have been nice if they had built this in a titanium case with a thin blue band around it, following the design of the original 'red' version, but still perhaps it's better if the black half of the bezel stands out against the case more?

The bezel is ceramic, and so should stay scratch (but not fingermark) free and the case size is 45mm. It'll be interesting to see this one close up, it looks like that red GMT hand is really going to pop, but I still don't like the 4:30 date window on these new Heuer 02 Carreras. I guess it will become normal eventually, I mean my everyday Formula One has a 4:30 date window, but right now it seems to jar a bit. Still, better that than putting it at 12 which in my opinion is almost always a huge mistake.

I guess one can't help compare two 'Batman' style watches that have been launched so closely together (although 'launched' is perhaps a bit strong as we've still not seen anything truly 'official' from TAG as yet on the Autavia) and for me the clear winner is the Carrera. It just looks 'right', in contrast to the Autavia, which just looks 'wrong'. It will certainly be interesting to compare the pricing of the two models, surely the Autavia won't stand a chance against the 3-6-9 style Carreras unless there is a distinct price advantage, but will TAG want to undermine the Autavia's percieved value?

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