Carrera — Designed to Track High Speed Times
Long before the Tag Heuer Carrera was an idea in the mind of designer Jack Heuer’s, his grandfather Edouard was developing a concept that would eventually become the cherry on top of Jack’s ”mythical series”: the oscillating pinion.
More on the oscillating pinion later. First, it’s imperative to explain the history of the Carrera in order to understand what inspired Jack. Understanding his inspiration leads to an understanding of why a grandfather’s ingenious idea could later be used to perfect the work of his grandson.
History of the Two Carreras
The Carrera is a border-to-border car race in Mexico. It is a government supported, 2,000 mile plus race that covers nine stages over six days. The route takes drivers through desert, over high mountain passes and into thick lowlands jungle. The first race was in 1950, but originally, the Carrera only lasted as an annual event for four years as a result of it widely being considered the most dangerous road race in the world.
Without debate, the original Carrera was the longest road race in the world at the time and accidents including driving into cliffs, over cliffs, smashing into buildings, careening into ravines and every other sort of less dramatic mayhem you can imagine. The dangerous peril of the Carrera led the Mexican government to shut the race down after only four years.
Short Tenure, Massive Impact
While the race didn’t even last long enough to develop traditions, it made a massive impact worldwide. The last two years of the race saw almost every major car maker enter a car. Both Porsche and Volkswagen made their name in the Carrera. Porsche named one of their most famous cars after the race. They have been using the Carrera name for over 50 years.
Porsche wasn’t the only manufacturer inspired by the race. So was open road race enthusiast Jack Heuer. The same year Porsche came out with their Carrera, Jack presented the Tag Heuer Carrera.
What Makes a Watch a Car Racing Watch
Simply, a chronograph is the difference between a standard watch and a watch that has value in a motor race. But, as Tag Heuer doesn’t make digital watches, the question is, what kind of stop watch does an analog watch need in order to time cars that average 90 miles an hour and manage speeds over 150 miles an hour for noticeably long stretches? a chronograph that can split seconds into tenths with perfection.
The Oscillating Pinion
The biggest problem that chronographs is preventing a miscalculation of time as one gear engages another. Before the oscillating pinion, the stop watch started when the teeth of the chronograph gear were jammed into the teeth of a gear on the watch’s second hand. It was simple and it was ineffective.
The oscillating pinion, on the other hand, works more like the gears of an automatic transmission. A pinion acts as a buffer between the two gears. The pinion is always engaged with the main gear (connected to the second hand) and when the stop watch is started, the oscillating pinion begins moving the chronograph wheel like a finger spinning a bicycle wheel using the spokes.
Bringing Two Generations Separated by Another Together
While Edouard Heuer’s oscillating pinion was certainly put to good use prior to the Carrera, it was the perfect mechanism for his grandson who had a passion for racing fast and knew the value of splitting seconds with precision.