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Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

Thread: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

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  1. Tom Ford said:

    Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    I thought I would share my honest experience about this watch, since I cannot find any contacts at the mighty LMVH website that might lead to someone at the TAG design department take a notice.

    As a short intro - I am an architect by profession, someone that is dealing with art, design, engineering and manufacturing on a daily basis. I enjoy the beauty of simple, functional, beautifully designed things made to last.

    That is why, about a year ago I wanted to treat myself to a new watch, one that I will enjoy to wear for many years to come, a piece of "technical jewellery" that will become an everyday item, without which I wouldn't leave the house. With a budget in mind I looked at quite a few different watches and in the end paid a bit more than I initially wanted to for a lovely black dial Tag Heuer Carrera automatic chrono.

    I remember the salesman talking at great length about the amazing accuracy of the Calibre 16 movement and the luminous dial...

    Now, I am not in any way naive - this is not a Rolex or a Patek Phillipe, it's a Tag - more avantgarde design than a real precision timepiece, but I thought it's a reasonably expensive Swiss made automatic watch from a renowned company... Hey, look - Brad Pitt's got one on his wrist! (laugh)

    Straight out of the box I loved it, it looked great on, it felt weighty and solid - you know how you just can't help checking the time every 10 seconds just to see the face of the thing.

    After a few days the novelty wore off and I started looking at the watch from a daily use point of view:

    1. THE CROWN - now this is a man's watch - I don't have long finger nails and my hands are quite large. I find adjusting the time a really painful experience - the first pull out position I just about manage but the second one always feels like my nail is about snap and the sharp crown is a real pain to handle if I occasionally have to wind it up a little.
    The crown is too small and it should be a screw-in one so that the pull resistance does not need to be so great.

    2. THE DIAL - there are too many polished silver elements on the dial so telling the time by just a quick glance is difficult, one really has to stare at it for a while. A friend has an earlier Carrera model where the dial markings and the 2 main hands are white on black and it is much easier to read.
    At least the long stop watch hand should be a different colour finish - the two silver owl-eyes-like counters complicate the thing even further. Nice to look at but very difficult to read.

    3. LUMINESCENCE - my wife has an inexpensive P50 Tissot quartz chrono - when I wake up in the middle of the night, her watch glows like the moon and mine is dark. When I leave my watch under a lamp for longer periods of time the hands and the tiny(?) dots on the dial perimetre will glow for about 10 minutes then the dots will stop and the hands will glow not very brightly for another 30min-1hour and than it's "good night nurse".
    What's going on there Tag?

    4. THE CASE - now I take care of the watch; I take it off whenever I am doing some dirty or manual work, I give it a quick wipe with a soft towel every morning after shower (I do not wear it IN the shower). But there is this sharp outer edge right where the black tachymetre bezel is fixed that just seems to collect little bumps and nicks from daily wear and tear. It is absolutely a real design flaw - the outer edge of the watch, where it really needs to be strong and impact resistant (just look at the Omega or Rolex bezels) is this fragile, blade-thin polished exposed edge. Every time I accidentally catch my hand on the door handle or something somewhere I just grind my teeth and look at another little dent right there, on the polished edge of the watch. Hardly a design suitable for active lifestyle!

    5. THE MOVEMENT - tick tock tick tock goes the mighty Calibre 16 - minus about 20-25 seconds per day. The shop tells me it's within the normal automatic movement tolerance. OK, it's a mechanical watch but it's Swiss and it's new. My father's 80's mechanical Seiko is more accurate than that! Has the technology not moved forward - I mean is Calibre 16 just a hot new brand name for an old Valjoux movement? I'm not a robot and would happily accommodate 5-10 seconds a day but this way, I just put the watch forward 2 minutes every Monday - ouch, that stupid sharp crown again - to keep it roughly on time. 21st century Swiss Chronograph...hmm?!

    6. THE STRAP - Love the black racing style perforated leather strap - that way you can wear a sports watch with a crisp business suit. After a year (never used in wet) the strap is about to give way, cracking just through the last perforation where the strap gets thin. If only the designers at Tag stopped the perforation where the thicker, padded part of the strap finishes, it would surely last much longer. But no, you see I just found out that the genuine replacement strap costs USD$300 - here is the reason why the strap wasn't designed to last. One strap per year at 300 bucks - I could have a brand new Seamaster in 10 years. That is if the actual watch lasts 10 years... Would be better of with a metal strap but then I like the leather one more, the original Carrera design had a leather strap.

    What to say in the end? Despite of all the above flaws I still like the watch but honestly, if I am to buy another watch in the future it will not be a Tag Heuer. I now believe that LMVH spends more money on celebrity marketing of its TAG brand then it does on the actual watch design and engineering.

    What is your honest opinion about the design of the watch you paid a lot of your hard earned money for? I would be interested to know, as long as you have the ability to evaluate what one should actually expect from a Swiss made watch apart from the fact that it looks "cool".


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    Last edited by Tom Ford; October 10th, 2010 at 13:52.
  2. axelf71 said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    I have the CV2014 model of this watch, and maybe this is the one you should have chosen. It would fix 2 of your problems at least, it has a red chrono seconds hand instead of silver and doesn't have the large "owl eye" rings around the sub dials. I find it easy to tell the time at a glance too. I have the steel bracelet it came with and have since bought the rubber strap also which is currently fitted. To be honest the rubber strap hasn't been on it long so I can't comment on it's longevity yet. I would expect that the leather strap could be replaced under warranty though, especially as TAG Heuer state that their straps go through rigorous testing to ensure long life. Have you tried this yet? They would also probably recalibrate the movement if it was outside their tolerances I'm sure, the law of averages would suggest that some number of the movements would function less than perfectly. This is what warranties are for.
    I never have, and probably never will, tested the accuracy of mine as it doesn't really bother me. If I can wear the watch and not notice a time difference over a few days then it's accurate enough for me. I'm also never in a dark enough environment long enough to comment on the lume either, sorry. Overall I'm very happy with mine, but as it's not a daily wearer it's more of a treat when I do wear it so maybe I'm overlooking the faults. I do agree that the crown finish is quite harsh and can grate the skin when winding. I would suggest talking to your local AD and see what they will do for you as it's still under warranty. I would also be pushing for a new strap as I would expect it to last longer than a year. Hope this helps and I hope you start enjoying your watch again soon.
    Last edited by axelf71; October 10th, 2010 at 16:52.
  3. christech81 said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    Hi Tom, sorry to hear that you are disappointed with your watch purchase, I can assure you that the Tag Heuer Calibre 16 Chronograph is a good choice and a great watch. The foibles are just part of the ownership, it's the same with any purchase such as Hifi, Computers, Cars; a watch is a marvel in engineering and is a delicate instrument. The Tag Calibre 16 chrono you have is a fantastic design and excellent value for money in my opinion.

    Being an architect you should realise that it is nearly impossible to attain form and function, very few products do it and most come with compromise. The design flaws that you point out may well be features that other people like.

    However I can tell that you are bitterly disappointed with your purchase which is a shame given that it is not a cheap watch. Despite the solid look and Chronograph I've always positioned the Tags like yours as dress watches really rather than hard wearing watches, the Aquaracers (or possibly LINK) make better day to day watches.

    If it makes you feel happier go to a jeweller and compare your purchase to another manufacturer but you have to compare like for like models, as the other poster said maybe take it back and see what the dealer can do for you.

    For reference I bought a brand new Sea Dweller six years ago and it did not feel as solid as my 20 year old DateJust, I was gutted as I thought the Sea Dweller would be a nice solid hard wearing watch; I lived with it and really love it so maybe the thinks you hate could become the design quirks you love?
    Last edited by christech81; October 10th, 2010 at 15:00.
  4. Sniper-sam said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    Excellent review Tom.
    I have the Calibre 17 RS2.
    My only real issues are the deployment buckle not holding the croc strap and have such created a larger "groove" but I have learned to live with it.
    Also the PVD coating, when it gets a dink the sliver shows through and because it's black against silver is more noticeable than a standard stainless case for example.
    All that said I still love this watch, thinking of buying the rubber strap for it to make the watch a little more practical.
  5. h2xmark's Avatar

    h2xmark said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    the carrera line is very vast with several models to choose from, at the time of purchase you thought you were buying the perfect watch, but after some time with it you found some issues that you did not think of at the time of purchase, that happens. I guess that's one of the reasons that some of us buy so many different watches. one for dress, one for work, a sport watch, also one for use in the water, ect. you have a very nice watch that you should be proud of. I would get the watch regulated, most Tag's run a little fast when new, they can get it running a lot closer than the 25 seconds that your's is running at
    Tag Heuer Carrera vintage calibre 1
    Tag Heuer Aquaracer caliber S
    Tag Heuer link automatic
    Tag Heuer aquaracer chronotimer
    Tag Heuer aquaracer grande date
    Philip admirale chrono v7750
    Burett neo icon auto
    Movado elliptica
    Invicta 9937 auto
  6. Wisconsin Proud's Avatar

    Wisconsin Proud said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    It sounds to me like you didn't do your homework when you selected this particular model.

    Most of the "problems" are your opinion that they are design flaws. I don't recall anyone claiming pain when using the crown - man up! - or complaining of banging the bezel on doors - be more careful?.

    To me, your only legitimate complaint is the accuracy and that can be easily adjusted. 7750-based movements are very accurate on the whole.

    Your opening statement of trying to find a rep to email these complaints to is laughable. There are perhaps millions of watches to choose from, maybe hundreds by TAG alone. Do better research for a watch that fits your clumsiness and ever so soft fingertips.

    The Carrera is a staple in TAGs model line for many years. No way you minor gripes change anything with this watch.
  7. kyotousa said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    about the luminous if I was outside all day absorbing all the energy from the sun

    The watch will glow all night. THe little dots will dissapear in semi-dark area. But you will see them in pitch black environment.

    Tag uses Super-LumiNova Which glows super-bright for 30 min or so. Then goes darker. It's just the natural of the substance most Swiss watch uses.
    You should have gone for the Aquaracer Chrono....Similar design with larger luminous dye area. You'll prbably like it more.

    I kinda though I should have went with the GC Calibre 1 since it's $800 cheaper and I am growing to like the look. But I think the 17RS has more futurist desing and it's automatic.
    So not much of a regret here.....maybe only a little bit of buyer remorse, since I didn't see the 187 watch list after I made my purchase.

    Btw I read Patek Phillipe is not accurate at all....+/- 20 sec per day. It's not about the time when you have that much money to purchase a watch.
    Rolex on the other hand I heard it's +/- 1/day. CRAZZZY
    Last edited by kyotousa; October 10th, 2010 at 18:56.
  8. Salan's Avatar

    Salan said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by kyotousa View Post
    Btw I read Patek Phillipe is not accurate at all....+/- 20 sec per day. It's not about the time when you have that much money to purchase a watch.
    Rolex on the other hand I heard it's +/- 1/day. CRAZZZY

    I dont want to go too much off topic here but do you have a source on that one (the patek statement)?

    My CV2014 started going +6sec per day. But now (around 8 month later) its -1sec per day. But I position it in another way over night nowadays, so that may be a reason for some off the time-keeping difference?
  9. kyotousa said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Salan View Post
    I dont want to go too much off topic here but do you have a source on that one (the patek statement)?

    My CV2014 started going +6sec per day. But now (around 8 month later) its -1sec per day. But I position it in another way over night nowadays, so that may be a reason for some off the time-keeping difference?
    from several pp owners
  10. Ozy's Avatar

    Ozy said:

    Re: Carrera calibre 16 chrono - a disappointment

    So you bought a watch and then realised that you didnt like the design.
    Pavo absolutus

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