Saturday, March 22, 2014

Top Gear Season 21 Wrist Watch - Richard Hammond's Tag Heuer Grand Carrera Chrono

We briefly touched on Richard Hammond's Grand Carrera back in 2009, but that was with a dodgy low-res screen cap and it was more of a point-and-identify exercise than an in-depth look at the watch. Whilst watching the latest episode we FINALLY get another close up of the watch during the 'news' segment of the show, and this inspired me to do a proper post on it.

So as we have identified, the watch on Hammond's wrist is the Tag Heuer Grand Carrera Chronograph, Calibre 17, an officially certified chronometer. This is one of my favourite Tag Heuers. No, really. I've loved it ever since it was launched back in 2007 and I do think it is one of the most successful Grand Carrera models they've done. So successful in fact that here we are in 2014, and it is still part of the range. The reason why it is so successful? The disc system (where rotating disc display the chronograph minutes and the running seconds) rather than the more conventional hand display, and the perfectly balanced and symmetrical dial. Trust me. Balance and symmetry in a watch does wonders.

It also helps that there are some very well thought out design features. The bezel is very thin, which makes the dial look bigger, which I like. The shape of the double sapphire crystal in the back case is a nod to the two window cut-outs on the dial revealing the rotating discs. The minute hand that reaches the minute tracks!! This is something lacking in Tag Heuer's latest masterpieces and I really wish they'd kept it up.
The Grand Carrera was actually a brand new range of watches for Tag Heuer, and this range was designed to raise the, err, luxuriousness of the brand and move them higher up in the price bracket. In some ways this was done quite successfully, but it did take sometime. Keep in mind that it is always much more difficult to move up a price point than down, especially since the range didn't have any in-house movements to 'justify' the price. The movement powering the Grand Carrera Chronograph is an ETA 2824-2, which is essentially a 2892 movement with a chrono movement on top of it. Nothing spesh, sure, but it works perfectly fine.

And yes, I love it so much that I did end up picking one up myself. On the leather strap. But I really should've bought one on bracelet, since they're so expensive to buy as a spare part...

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