When TAG Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith presented their first releases of the year this month, each showcased a watch model with deep roots in their illustrious pasts.
Kicking off this year’s 60th-anniversary celebrations of its flagship Carrera chronograph collection, TAG Heuer unveiled the Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary (US$7,400), a 600-piece limited edition distinguished by its “panda” dial, a playful reference to black sub-dials on a silvered dial.
As the lore goes, Jack Heuer learned about the dangerous and short-lived 1950s-era Mexican Carrera Panamericana road race in 1962, when he met brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez of Mexican racing fame at the 12 Hours of Sebring. He was so impressed, he adopted the name Carrera for Heuer’s 1963 wrist-worn chronograph. Heuer’s vision for Carrera was translating the brand’s dashboard rally timers to the wrist with a high-contrast dial that optimizes readability.
The first of an expected parade of anniversary pieces pays tribute to the reference 2447 SN from the late 1960s, which was outfitted with a silvered dial accented with black sub-dials. The initials S and N refer to “silver” and “noir” in a mish-mash of English and French. The hour and minute hands and hour indexes featured a stripe down the middle for enhanced clarity, and the striped double-wide index at 12 o’clock made it clear that the chronograph was zeroed.
The 2023 Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary limited edition is a faithful re-interpretation of that vintage piece right down to the black stripes on the central hands and hour markers, the double indexes at 12, and the black counters with high-contrast white markings. The dial is accented with the vintage Heuer logo and the name Carrera.
Hublot, meanwhile, turned the clock back to 1980, revisiting the Classique Automatique that put the brand on the map as a disruptor. Founder Carlo Crocco’s original design took inspiration from a ship’s porthole and managed to fit a precious yellow gold case with a black rubber strap, subtly infused with the aroma of vanilla.
The new Classic Fusion Original revisits that ground-breaking piece with an expanded lineup in 18-karat yellow gold, titanium and sleek “Black Magic” ceramic in three case sizes—42mm, 38mm, and 33mm—with prices ranging from US$6,500 to US$24,100.
“Forty exhilarating years have shaped these Classic Fusion Originals,” said Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO, in a news release. “We have redesigned them because Hublot has changed. They embody these rebellious alliances that make us who we are today.”
Revivals have become one of Zenith’s pillar collections in recent years, as the brand has unearthed and resurrected historic models from its extensive archives.
Following last year’s rebirth of the first Defy wristwatch from 1969 as well as the A3642 and the A3691 from 1971, this year it revisited emblematic colorful references of the A3690, which launched in 1970 as one of the first references to incorporate bold color, such as the tropical teal blue dial of the new Defy Revival A3690 (US$6,900).
Zenith followed the historic manufacturing plans to reproduce the original in exquisite detail, from the faceted octagonal case with a 14-sided bezel to the unusual applied square hour markers with horizontal grooves and the distinctive Gay Frères steel “ladder” bracelet, which has now been updated with a more modern, ergonomic folding clasp.
Some cosmetic departures from the original include the sapphire crystal, and a clear sapphire crystal case back that reveals the automatic Elite 670 manufacture movement with 50 hours of power reserve and water-resistance to 30ATM (300 meters).
“The Revival pieces remind people where we come from and why our current watches look the way they do,” says Julien Tornare, Zenith’s CEO, during a recent meeting in New York City. “We are always keeping the link with the past, without being stuck in the past.”