Why are vintage-style watches so popular right now? As a journalist specializing in luxury timepieces, I'm often asked that question, and the answer, aside from the fact that most original vintage watch models are hard to find, is that modern watches are better. Modern remakes of vintage watch designs are better than their original counterparts because of modern engineering and manufacturing processes. They're made of better materials, with more precisely engineered components and above all, state-of-the-art movements. More advances have been made in watch technology in the past 30 years than in the previous 100, which means modern movements are more reliable, more accurate, and longer lasting.
So why are they called vintage at all, if they're just new watches? Because, while they are made to modern standards, they accurately resemble iconic designs from the past, some of them so precisely that it's hard to tell the difference. And good design is good design: it's worth revisiting and preserving. Most of these iconic designs originated in the late 1960s and ’70s, the golden age of watch design, and one of the most sought-after by collectors is the chronograph with a panda dial, so-called because the black sub-registers against a silver or white dial resemble a panda bear's face. The idea was to achieve high readability, and the black and white contrast worked perfectly. TAG Heuer was one of the original brands that developed this look, marketing it in its Carrera line, and this year, as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of that collection, it has reproduced the most sought-after of them all, the Carrera Chronograph reference 2447 SN. The original was designed by Jack Heuer in the 1960s, and it was named after the Carrera Panamericana road race, a famously dangerous circuit held in Mexican back roads.
The Carrera Chronograph 60th Anniversary Edition is a faithful reinterpretation of the Carrera 2447 SN, except that the 60-minute and 12-hour counters are reversed, and the radioactive tritium on the original has been replaced with contemporary Super-LumiNova. The dial is topped by a raised-profile glass box crystal, also faithful to the original, and it contains the Heuer 02, TAG Heuer’s 80-hour in-house automatic chronograph caliber. It is limited to 600 pieces worldwide - which makes it rare, and a future collector's piece in itself.