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".