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A highway, a (sometimes deadly) race. The name Carrera means different things to different people. But to Jack Heuer, it meant one thing: a watch that would become his legacy.
Jack Heuer first conceived of the Carrera in 1962, when he was attending the 12 Hours of Sebring race in Florida. It was there, in a conversation with the parents of the legendary Rodriguez brothers (both drivers), that Heuer first heard of the Carrera Panamerica, a treacherous five-day race along the Mexican stretch of the Pan-American Highway. The name--and the stories of the 27 lives the race claimed during its five-year run--haunted him, and he registered it the following year.
A new innovation--a tension ring to anchor the dial in place, while also offering greater water resistance--the same year inspired him to incorporate that feature in a watch that would be a game-changer just like Omega's Speedmaster was. Taking the tachymeter track off the dial wasn't a new idea--Rolex did it with the Daytona and Omega of course started it, more or less, with the Speedy--but Heuer's obsession with legibility cleaned up the dial in a way that hadn't quite been achieved before. Here now is a watch that shows you only the minimal amount of information, with plain baton markers: clean, uncluttered, undeniably attractive.
These early Carreras were produced in a variety of styles with a range of dial configurations, including standard black (N) and silver (S) dials, with the Tachy (T) and Decimal (D) variants proving to be amongst the rarest.
This particular Carrera, a Reference 3647D, is powered by the robust manually-wound Valjoux 92 chronograph movement, with double subsidiary register layout. The Valjoux 92 is a derivative of the triple register Valjoux 72 that we all know and love, with similar architecture and quality, simply without an hour register. The movement isn't what makes it stand out, though--the dial, with its unusual decimal track, is what sets it apart from the rest of the Carreras.
Heuer offered decimal scales on stopwatches, so the scale isn't entirely unseen in the Heuer archives. However, when compared to the tachymeter or telemeter scales, which have a definite application in sports or recreation, the decimal scale--where each minute is subdivided into 100 intervals--seems a little offbeat. But the interplay of the blue decimal track and the silver hour markers is visually arresting, giving the dial just that extra bit of flair.
The decimal track obviously has fans at Tag Heuer today, because the brand chose to reissue this very watch in the 1990s to great acclaim.
For a watch designed in the early 1960s, the design language of the Carrera still possesses an attractive immediacy, proving the timelessness of Jack’s philosophy. A clean dial never goes out of style, and it makes the Carrera an easy watch to dress up or down. At 36mm, the case wears extremely well on the modern wrist, its long beveled lugs making it feel a bit beefier while still slipping easily under a cuff.
Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown and pushers). Heuer Carrera Reference 3647D. Valjoux Caliber 92 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp bevels on the lugs and signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with some signs of age, including patina to the luminescent elements of the hour plots and hands. Unsigned crown. Case back has some faint signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 18mm blue suede strap and two 18mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle