Though the name of this watch may make it sound like a mixture between a gun, a car and a German tennis star, this is a serious piece of time telling machinery. This is partly because of TAG Heuer’s association with motor racing, Formula 1 in particular. They even produce a watch to accompany the Mercedes Benz hyper car, the McLaren SLR. The Carrera 16 Calibre is a chronograph and timekeeping luxury watch that attempts to combine niche market functionality with wider appeal. The results are varied, though objectively impressive by any standards.
Impeccable masculinity is exuded by the Calibre 16, though it could not be called ostentatious or pretentious. It is available in a number of combinations with different materials used for the strap, though the most popular and attractive pairing is the black alligator strap, with the black dial nestling in a black aluminium bezel. Fans of silver or stainless steel bracelet fastenings can adjust their choice accordingly. The Carrera 16 Calibre comes presented in a stainless steel case that adds a suitable amount of ceremony to its arrival. It also has a sapphire crystal dome entombing its various dials and this dome is anti-reflective so as to allow use in any conditions. The detailing on the digits and the various sub dials is all exquisitely rendered in contrast with your choice of bezel. To increase the overall usability the hands of the Calibre 16 are marked with luminous sections, ideally suited for use during the night stage of a Grand Prix. Or simply when you roll over to check the time in the wee hours. For the money you will pay for the Calibre 16 you would expect a world class level of craftsmanship and there is little here to disappoint.
This watch is based on a limited run produced to commemorate the Singapore F1 Grand Prix and so firmly asserts itself as a chronograph timepiece. That means that it can be used both as a stopwatch and as a standard timekeeping device. For day to day use its automatic movement and date and time windows, located at 3 o’clock, are convenient and easy to interpret.
The three main sub dials enhance the chronographic pretensions of the Carrerra Calibre 16, measuring chronograph hours, minutes and seconds respectively. Using these dials for timekeeping is simple and the layout of the buttons is intuitive enough for new owners to grasp quickly.
The tachometer which rims the edge of the Calibre 16 can be used to convert the times you take with it into speeds. Though the Calibre 16 is marketed and priced as a luxury watch and comes with all the associated aesthetic trappings, it is at its heart a workhorse. It will give you the ability to record the time of events, make calculations and monitor multiple laps whilst still keeping track of the time and date as any normal watch would. In order to adhere to the sporting pretensions which it exhibits the Calibre 16 is rated as water resistant to up to 100 meters. It is unlikely that TAG Heuer owners will ever test this claim, though its inclusion is comforting.
As with any luxury watch brand there is an unfortunate raft of fakes available on-line and on the street. As a result you will have to be very careful to purchase from a respectable dealer, especially if the watch is being advertised as authentic and sold at close to the RRP. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. One further issue may be that of the relatively hardcore audience which the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 is aimed at. With its stop watch dials and dedicated chronograph functions it yearns to be used as it was intended. If you are looking for a simple timepiece that doesn’t cater to such specific tastes then you might want to consider alternative luxury watch brands.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 cannot be faulted for its design ideals or functionality. It is a real timekeeping enthusiast’s watch, which may work against its popularity in some circles. However, for fans of motor racing or sport of any kind it blends its chronograph roots with the luxury finish and of course the respected brand name very well. It might be worth examining the other watch ranges offered by TAG Heuer, especially if you are an admirer of their design aesthetic and their racing heritage, but want something a little more mainstream. As long as you are thorough in your research of the watches you desire and the places to buy them, you won’t be disappointed.