Hands on review of the Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Fragment
I would like to come back to one of the watches in my collection: the Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Fragment. In fact, beyond the fact that I appreciate it very much, it symbolizes, in my opinion, a very interesting approach of the neo-retro style. Tag Heuer could have been content to clone the reference Carrera 2447 NT which was used as inspiration for this model but the brand decided to collaborate with the Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara to give it a touch of originality and a more contemporary atmosphere. Make something new with old, the recipe is very well known but Tag Heuer has gone further to present this version of the Carrera Heuer 02 which is both classic and modern.
One thing is certain: this watch, which was unveiled at the end of 2018 in the context of a limited series of 500 pieces, occupies a special place in the recent Tag Heuer offer. Indeed, it doesn't look like any other piece animated by the Heuer 02 caliber to date (nb: I wrote this article just before the unveiling of the Carrera 160 years during the LVMH Watch Week at Dubai). This is all that makes its singularity and its success: certainly aesthetically, it is not necessarily very original. But it benefits from all the latest qualitative and technical advances of the brand. It falls into the category of these watches which offer a vintage style while being easy to live in everyday life because eliminating the constraints of the original models.
Ready to welcome a strap:
The Carrera Heuer 02 Fragment is therefore a very comfortable watch to wear and has many assets. First, its diameter is reasonable (39mm). Its size is larger than the original model but the black dial reduces the perceived size. Then, its dial is very balanced. The Heuer 02 movement is usually used in much larger cases (43 or 45mm) but this more contained diameter suits it very well. It should be noted that the opening of the dial is relatively large, taking into account the narrow bezel. The counters are harmoniously distributed while leaving room for two peripheral graduations, one being on the flange. The legibility is correct. The contrast between the hands and the background of the dial is satisfactory and the very discreet touch of Superluminova (with the same "patina" color as the indexes one) is welcome. Note that the dial lay-out is not the same than the Carrera 2447 NT one since the hour counter and the second hand subdial are reversed. The finish quality of the dial is excellent. Only one detail proves it: the indexes, however very small, were made with precision and care. I also really like the azure finish of the counters, which creates beautiful reflections of light, never easy to obtain with a dominant black color. The 19mm wide NATO supplied with the watch:
The case is also very pleasant with slender lugs which give fluidity. The work on these lugs is important because the ratio between the diameter and the case height (14.5mm) is rather low. The watch may seem thick and collected but a significant part of this height comes from the glass itself. In the end, the thickness is felt very little. The mushroom pushers are then easy to activate and this is also to be credited to the inherent qualities of the Heuer 02 movement. The sapphire crystal with anti-reflective double-sided treatment contributes to the aesthetic success of the whole. Its "glass box" type gives the watch a lot of style and character. Finally, the water resistance of 100 meters allows versatile use of the Carrera Heuer 02 Fragment. The presentation of the Heuer 02 caliber is simple and effective. It fits well with the spirit of this Carrera Fragment:
The use of the Heuer 02 movement is the demonstration that the Carrera Heuer 02 Fragment is indeed a modern interpretation of the Carrera 2447 NT because this caliber has nothing to do with the one which powered the original watch. It is self-winding, its architecture is contemporary and its performance is in line with current standards. It's a movement that I really like to use. Its power reserve is first of all important: 80 hours for a frequency of 4hz. The pushers are nice to use and above all it has a great winding efficiency. On the other hand, the winding mass can be easily felt and is noisy. It doesn't bother me personally. But I do know that some people may be surprised by such a noticeable movement. This is a point I wish to emphasize. The presentation of the movement is a bit rough but the design of the winding mass is rather consistent with the style of the watch. Maybe I would find it too "modern" in its approach if the watch was a clone of the original model. But here it is: we are in a reinterpretation on which Hiroshi Fujiwara worked and that changes everything.With the Bund type strap also supplied with the watch:
The presence of lightnings which symbolizes Fragment, the structure which carries his creative projects on the bottom of the case is like his work on this watch: we feel the influence of Fujiwara, it is perceptible and yet it is neither aggressive or imposing. And this is the deep reason why this watch is so successful. Hiroshi Fujiwara managed to inject an unique dimension in a discreet and effective way. On the dial side, only the Fragment logo and the name at 4.30 are immediately noticed. But for the rest, it is rather a subtle work as in particular on the indexes, reduced to tiny squares which allows the dial to breathe better.
In fact, the most visible contribution is not on the watch itself but on the straps. It is sold with a black and gray NATO and a Bund type strap in black alligator. The result in each case is surprising, even very daring with the alligator strap. But it works! The watch is then transformed and finds itself immersed in a more streetwear universe. Personally, I have worn the watch a lot with the NATO, but I later wanted to wear a more elegant and classic strap. I then used a bespoke strap. I draw attention to the widths that are required: 19mm at the lugs, 18mm at the buckle. I then acquired a 16mm Tag Heuer buckle to be able to use a 19x16 strap that I found more consistent with the style of the watch.A versatile watch:
In any case, whether with the NATO or a more classic strap, I had great pleasure in wearing this piece. Its reasonable size, its classic style without being conventional, the performances of the Heuer 02 caliber are indisputable assets ... without forgetting a point for me very important: the absence of a date window what I always prefer! So certainly, its price of 7,350 euros including VAT is not the most accessible but the Carrera Fragment fully meets my expectations. A real success which demonstrates that the Heuer 02 caliber can perfectly be used in watches with proportions that I would describe as more traditional and timeless.
The bespoke strap and I'm very happy with it:
+ an aesthetic success thanks to the discreet and effective touch from Hiroshi Fujiwara
+ the performance of the Heuer 02 caliber
+ the dial finishes
+ a versatile watch
- a relative thickness
- the noise of the winding mass