closing tag is in template navbar
timefactors watches

TZ-UK Fundraiser
View RSS Feed


Rivals through the decades: Carrera vs Speedmaster

Rate this Entry
After being able to pick up the great condition Speedmaster ST176.0012 on SC, I realised that unwittingly I had acquired an almost matching set of rivals for my collection of vintage Heuers. I hope a small comparison review will be interesting to assess the two models through 4 decades. I fondly remember reading the late Chuck Maddox's review of the Carrera line when researching the purchase of my Carrera reissue in the early 00's (, and hope that this short pictorial review pays some homage to it.

Starting (nearly) at the beginning these watches represent the most iconic design features associated with the 2 model lines. Both have column wheel chronographs that are well respected, relatively uncommon 50 years on, and potentially expensive to maintain. My Carrera 3647s is a second generation model dating from around 1966 with the silver sunburst dial as opposed to the matt 'eggshell' white dials on the very first watches. The broad, angular lugs, now synonymous with the Carrera, make it wear larger than the 36mm case would suggest. I personally prefer the 2-dial 3647 to the 3-dial 2447 as it emphasises the uncluttered, minimalist dial design perfectly.

This Speedmaster is a ref 105.012 66-CB, although unfortunately it has had later service parts fitted by Omega during a restoration at Bienne, before my acquisition. It is regarded as the reference that was actually worn on the lunar surface, and the first Speedmaster professional that has the twisted "lyre" lugs that have become an omega design signature. The central-boites (CB) case is unique in the fact that it has a slightly different profile and delineated 2-facet polishing on the inside of the lugs. The speedmaster wears significantly larger than the 60's carrera mainly due to the larger dial and thin external bezel, but both are pleasingly thin and suit a wide variety of straps.

As the speedmaster has non-vintage parts, I have fitted a display back to look at that lovely 321 cal movement inside. A decent condition tritium dial, hands and DON bezel are now ruinously expensive and would probably limit my enjoyment in wearing the watch due to their value, but I hope to pick up a replacement spear shaped second hand to complete the neo-vintage look.

Moving onto the 70s there is some design convergence with the adoptation of cushion style cases and coloured highlights to the previously monochrome dials. Granted a MkII Speedmaster with a racing dial would be a better comparison, but this radial dial Seamaster is a worthy rival to equivalent Heuer 73353 Carrera. Both watches now have, cheaper to produce, cam-based chronograph movements again from Valjoux and Lemania respectively. The Carrera has a polished bezel around the crystal, but otherwise the cases are remarkably similar at 38/39mm diameter with alternative brushed and polished surfaces and internal tachymetre markings on the rehaut.

The seamaster has a strange mix of design cues which the 2 speedy tuesday watches have drawn from. The radial subdial numbering only seen on the rarest of NASA Speedmaster prototypes, and the orange elapsed seconds hand of the upcoming ultraman. There is a panda version of the dial which is even more confusing:

Moving onto the 80's and this time the movements of the watches are shared - both containing varients of the Lemania 5100 calibre, with it's much loved central elapsed minutes display. This time the Heuer 510.523 has a noticeably thinner case than the Speedmaster 176.0012, although the refinished surfaces on the Speedmaster are really stunning. Both have far more detailed and cluttered dials to reflect the additional complications of GMT and day/date displays not previously offered. I prefer the black inner section of the hands and the splash of neon-orange on the Heuer, but they are essentially the same parts as the monochrome Omega.

Finally to the (very late) 90's where these two models draw significant inspiration from their 60s counterparts. The re-issue CS3112 Carrera shares the same calibre as the 1861 Speedmaster professional, squeezing it into the smaller case. Whilst the spec sheet and photographs of the re-isuue look identical to the original, there is some devil in the detail, which was not apparent to me until I had both watches in hand. The older watch has slightly longer lugs and a bigger dial - which make the design elements more pronounced.

Both model ranges have expanded over time and there are a number of watches you could compare here and into the 2000's, but this 38.5mm Speedmaster automatic is a good fit, sharing the iconic case design of the professional but maintaining the increased functionality of automatic winding and a date complication. It is impressively thin for a valjoux 7750 calibre and wears very well day-to-day. Perhaps the 18mm lug width is a little small, although there is no taper in the bracelet. The carbon dial of this Schumacher LE comes alive in the sun.

So where do your allegiances lie? Which would be your choice through the decades?

If i was forced to choose one from each pair, then perhaps controversially, it would be a 4-0 win for Heuer / TAG Heuer for me. The Speedmaster professional is undoubtedly an iconic watch, but for me, the design of the 3647 is so clean and so perfect. Go Jack Heuer!

Thanks for reading.
Tags: None Add / Edit Tags


Do Not Sell My Personal Information