You know that feeling you get when you step on the accelerator of a sports car and peel out? The power pushes you back in your seat but gets easier to handle as you shift progressively up through the gears until your acceleration slows as you get closer and closer to top speed. Now, take that feeling and put it in a watch. You’ve got the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche, a collaborative chronograph made with the iconic car company that sports a brand-new movement with an unexpected twist.
Let’s start with the basics. The watch is based on TAG Heuer’s “glassbox” design, with a 42mm by 14.9mm case and a domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment that allows for a better reading of the track at the edge of the dial at any angle. The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche watch comes in 18k rose gold with a beige dial or steel with a silvered dial. Both have rhodium-plated hour and minute hands, while the indices and the chronograph hand match the tone of the case. Finally, there are silver accents around the subdials and date window at 6:00. The subdials display the running seconds, a 30-minute chronograph counter, and a 12-hour counter for the chronograph. But with no tachymeter in sight, this movement is a bit different.
It goes 0-100 km/h in just 9.1 seconds – no wait, that was the original Porsche 911. But to mark that achievement, the first 9.1 seconds on the flange are marked by a red line. Wait a second, though, that doesn’t make sense because that line goes up to 20 seconds on the dial. That’s because the new TH20-08 movement powers the chronograph hand that accelerates like a car’s speedometer.
What does that mean? Well to put it simply, when you start the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche, it will run very fast, covering about a third of the dial in 9.1 seconds (roughly 0-20 seconds of a traditional 60-second dial indication). All the while, the chronograph hand is actually slowing down as it circles the dial, getting slower and slower until it reaches the top of the dial and starts again at a fast speed. Why did they do it? What purpose does this serve? I’m not sure. But they did it anyway.
The new “glassbox” Carreras have been one of the standout hits over the last year and a half. With a number of variations, from a blue dial to the “reverse Panda” that Danny wrote about all the way back in April to the newest Skipper release, TAG Heuer is making good use of the “glassbox” as a platform to fill out the product line with variations for everyone’s tastes.
Frankly, TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche could have co-branded this watch with Porsche and left it at that, and certainly, they would have sold plenty of watches to Porsche fans. I’m not suggesting they should do that, but it’s true. What they did is certainly a lot more novel, especially when it comes to that odd TH20-08 movement that gives it the “Chronosprint” name.
The idea of a chronograph that runs faster, like the acceleration through the first couple of gears on a Porsche, and then slows down as you approach “top speed” (or top of the dial) – well, it’s pretty cool if (also) pretty impractical. Maybe I’m not smart enough to figure out an application for it, but a complication used as a narrative device is certainly pretty uncommon.
I’ve never really fully fallen in love with any of TAG Heuer’s modern rose gold offerings, especially with this beige dial, which just lacks a little contrast for my liking. That’s fine, though, since I’m not in the market for a 23,000 CHF chronograph anyway. The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche silver-toned dial on the steel version with the bold red accents seems more my speed. Only time will tell if this is just the sort of chronograph that will speak to 911 fans and beyond.