When it comes to TAG Heuer ambassadors, no one can hold a candle to Formula 1’s triple World Champion Ayrton Senna. Yes, Steve McQueen may well have greater name recognition and push, but McQueen is a link back to the old days of Heuer. Senna was a 1990s TAG Heuer man, wearing the S/el and 6000 series during his days with the McLaren team, no doubt influenced by the fact that his boss Ron Dennis sat on the board of TAG Heuer.
There are two acts in the story of Ayrton Senna-branded TAG Heuers: the first from 1994-2004 and then the second starting in 2015 when TAG Heuer reacquired the rights to licence the Senna name, taking over from LVMH stablemate Hublot. And within this second act we now have the fourth chapter: the 2018 TAG Heuer Carrera Ayrton Senna collection, follows special editions released in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The latest Senna watches consist of three Carrera Chronographs, two powered by the Heuer 02 movement and the third by the tourbillon version of that same movement, known as the Heuer 02T.
Carrera Heuer 02 Senna- CBG2013
The watch in the new range is an evolution of the 2017 Edition (CAR2A1L), which combined the centre case of the Carrera Heuer 01 series with lugs reminiscent of the Grand Carrera case.
Grand Carrera? Yes, that was the case used for the 2015 Carrera Senna chronograph, the first time that we saw a new Senna edition for 11 years. These two watches are the first time that TAG Heuer has offered an alternative lug design on the modular Carrera case and show how the look of the watch can be transformed simply by changing a small number of modular elements. But while the new Senna is based on the 2017 45mm watch, the 2018 model is pared back to 43mm and this time uses a standard brushed/ polished stainless steel case, rather than the blackened titanium carbide-coated 2017 watch.
The other distinct aspect of this model is the “Legend” bracelet and end-pieces, borrowed from the former TAG Heuer link series, and drawing a connection between this watch and the S/el and Link Senna watches of the 1990s and early 2000s.
In addition to the smaller case, the 2018 Edition features the newer Calibre Heuer 02 rather than the Heuer 01. The visual difference between these two movements is that the Heuer 01 offers a 12-6-3 register layout, while the Heuer 02 has the more traditional 3-6-9 as seen here.
The “Senna S” is featured on the 9 o’clock register and on the ceramic bezel, with the watch using Heuer/ TAG Heuer’s traditional racing battle colours of red and black. The “dial” itself is a semi-skeleton plate, using the design that TAG Heuer refer to as the “Drive Timer” dial, which uses the a double-digit 5-minute scale, a look we first saw on the Carrera 360. We prefer this semi-skeleton dial to the skeleton dial offered on the standard Heuer 01 Carrera range, but while these offer a technical look, nothing beats the legibility of a traditional closed dial.
Turning to the back of the watch, we again have the Senna name and “S” printed on the sapphire case back along with an oversized TAG Heuer logo. The colour scheme nicely matches the black and red rotor/ text on the Heuer 02 movement, TAG Heuer’s latest in-house calibre that is slowly be rolled out across the Carrera range.
The Link bracelet may be one of those designs that you either love or hate, but even its detractors won’t argue with how comfortable it is compared to other bracelets. The links have a “Double S” design (nothing to do with Mr. Senna” allowing the links to fall nicely on the wrist.
Carrera Heuer 02 Senna- CBG2014
The second watch in the 2018 Senna series is another 43mm modular Carrera, again with the Heuer 02 movement. While the CBG2014 may look different to the CBG2013, there are only limited differences between the two watches. The second Senna Carrera for 2018 uses the more familiar Carrera Heuer 01 case, this time in a 43mm case. But look a little closer and you’ll see that only the lugs are different to CBG2013- the regular angular lugs are back in place of the other model’s softer curves.
And with these different lugs comes the titanium-carbide end pieces. These may be minor changes, but it does give the watch quite a different look. The other difference is the strap, with a rubber black and red strap in place of the Legend bracelet. The red pattern on the strap is designed to emulate the look of the Legend bracelet. If the dial here looks familiar, it’s because it is the same Drive Timer plate as used on CBG2013 and the same set of hands. Think of these two models as using the same core, with only the lugs and straps changing.
The two Heuer 02 Chronographs may share the majority of their parts, but they do look and feel quite different. Which looks better is purely subjective, but we did find the bracelet to be slightly more comfortable. Probably the rubber straps veers towards the sporty side, while the bracelet dresses the up the watch.
Carrera Heuer 02T Tourbillon Senna- CAR5A91
Sitting at the top of the 2018 range is this toubillon model- the 45mm Carrera Heuer 02T, the Senna version using a ceramic case. The watch gets the “full black” treatment, with minimal red highlights for the Senna S and text on the bezel and the 9 o’clock register.
As with all Heuer 02T models, the Senna Tourbillon uses traditional hour markers, with the 6 o’clock register losing the sweeping seconds hand, but gaining a wonderful Tourbillon regulator.
The finishing touch is the beautiful black leather strap (mounted on a soft-touch rubber base). The Senna Heuer 02T is perhaps our favourite edition of the Carrera Tourbillon yet, with perfect colour combination and of course, the uniqueness of a COSC-rated Chronograph movement regulated with a tourbillon.
The 2018 TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Ayrton Senna watches are available now both online and in stores, although the tourbillon model is only available in stores. Pricing for the 2018:
- TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Senna Edition CBG2013: US$6,350
- TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02T Tourbillon Senna Edition CAR5A91: US$21,200
While we don’t have pricing confirmed for the CBG2014 chronograph, we expect it to come in a little under CBG2013 thanks to the use of a rubber strap rather than stainless steel bracelet.