The start of 2024 marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, the fifth year in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac calendar. Part of a mythology dating back thousands of years, the start of the Chinese New Year is marked by celebrations, fireworks, a New Year’s feast, and gifts of red and gold envelopes filled with cash to bring good fortune. It has also, in recent years, become an opportunity for watchmakers to introduce limited-edition timepieces dedicated to the symbols of the Chinese zodiac. The latest of these is a pair of TAG Heuer Carrera Chronographs with dials, case backs, and other design elements dedicated to the Year of the Dragon.
The TAG Heuer Carrera has been a pillar of the stalwart Swiss watchmaker’s catalogue since the 1960s. Initially conceived as an ultra-legible timer for racing drivers (its name is a nod to the infamous Carrera Panamericana road race) the Carrera has since been adopted by racing fans and watch collectors alike, and is now among the world’s most popular sports watches. TAG Heuer has produced countless variations of the Carrera over the years, from the collectible “Skipperera” sailing watch to recent limited editions dedicated to Porsche.
Following a major relaunch in 2022 with the help of celebrity ambassador Ryan Gosling, the Carrera is now one of the most versatile pieces in the TAG Heuer lineup, with more than 75 versions currently available in a wide range of styles and sizes. The two new Chinese New Year editions for the Year of the Dragon follow a similar release dedicated to the Year of the Rabbit in early 2023.
In Chinese mythology the Dragon is a benevolent creature symbolizing strength and unity, and is the only supernatural creature in the Chinese zodiac. To pay homage to this mystical beast, the watch is available in two distinct variants: a steel version with a sunray-brushed silver dial with rhodium-plated markers and a rose gold version with a sunray-brushed 18K 5N rose gold-plated dial set with 18K 5N rose gold-plated indexes. Both feature red “azuré” subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock, which make a dynamic contrast with the dial in a classic “reverse panda” design. Coincidentally, the panda is symbolic of peace and friendship in Chinese culture, as well as a symbol of the Chinese nation.
Limited to 300 pieces for the steel version and 50 pieces for the 18K 5N rose gold version, both pieces feature a central red lacquered seconds hand, a calligraphic dragon character at 6 o’clock, and a sapphire glass case back printed with an ornate Chinese dragon. Both watches are powered by the Calibre Heuer 02, an automatic column wheel chronograph movement made in-house by TAG Heuer and featuring an 80-hour power reserve. With a richly hued red alligator leather strap and a matching red presentation box, the watches make for an auspicious start to the Chinese new year, and the latest unique addition to the Carrera lineup.