Watches and cars are like peanut butter and jelly. You can decide which is which. For the purposes of my metaphor, and this particular sandwich, the jelly to TAG Heuer’s peanut butter is none other than one of the most iconic names in sports car racing history – Porsche. It’s no surprise, given that both brands independently trace inspiration back to the same auto race: the Carrera Panamericana. To celebrate this iconic duo, the two brands have collaborated to deliver a numbered limited edition Carrera Chronograph commemorating the automaker’s successful endurance racing campaign and “relentless pursuit of excellence” in the Porsche 963.
The Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph x Porsche 963 is an aggressive take on the Carrera model line with numerous cues taken from the Porsche race car. A forged carbon fiber bezel frames a skeletonized dial full of lume to evoke the day-to-night nature of many famous endurance races, such as Le Mans. The form of the dial itself is meant to emulate the tubular construction of Porsche race cars, giving a peek at the inner workings below. TAG has even gone as far as to include Super-LumiNova markers on the chronograph subdials that are in the same formation as the 963’s running lights: two pairs of four angled blocks of Super-LumiNova
Inside is TAG Heuer’s latest iteration of what was the Heuer 02 movement, now called the Calibre TH20-00, which is also found in the newest generation of Glassbox Carreras and the Monaco. The update in nomenclature is not without material improvement, though, as the upgraded movement winds in both directions, which is more efficient than the H02 (unidirectional) and also quieter. TAG has also announced an extension of the warranty, from two years to a much more considerable five. Pricing for the Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph x Porsche 963 is set at CHF 9,000 and production is limited to just 963 units (duh).
There’s no mistaking it; this is definitely a race-car-inspired watch. TAG Heuer knows that their customer wants a distinct, recognizable watch with a very clear identity. The Carrera Chronograph x 963 knows exactly what it is. The details are thoughtful, even if some are a bit over the top by conservative standards that call for commemorative editions to have no trace of their commemoration except in a small engraving on the caseback: the nod to the four o’clock start/finish time for Le Mans, the NACA ducts on the strap, and the steering wheel oscillating weight. These elements feel a bit heavier-handed than others (that was a play on the carbon fiber elements). Yet again, this is a watch based on a car that looks more like a rocket ship. The watch commemorating such a thing should be able to stand up to that design brief, and we are definitely leaning in here.
The dial construction gives the impression of huge depth and openness. The use of surfaces and materials allows for easy visual separation and gives tons of interest without getting in the way of time-telling. The use of Super-LumiNova definitely helps. It’s not a small watch, coming in at 44mm x 15.1mm, and I think TAG did a decent job of mitigating that visual weight with the engravings and PVD coating on the sides of the case, crown, and pushers. A large profile can quickly be slimmed down with some sculpting and contrast – a not uncommon practice in vehicle design, where larger forces like safety regulations or even manufacturing limitations may dictate a certain shape or size.
Along with the extensive use of exotic materials and finishes, the inclusion of a vertical clutch for the column-wheel chronograph in the in-house TH20-00 is right up to par with the overall theme of technological innovation. There couldn’t be anything less at this level and price point. Pushing 10k is a lot for any watch, and TAG continues to stand by its own by offering a more robust warranty than previously with the Heuer 02, as well as incremental improvements to what is sure to be the cornerstone of the cornerstone offering: the chronograph. All of that in a numbered edition will surely play to fans of both TAG Heuer, Porsche, and endurance racing – of which there are many.

Which brings me to the final verdict: the Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph x Porsche 963 is a crunchy peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s not for everyone, but those who love it, REALLY love it.