The Calibre 36 is one of the top models in TAG Heuer's Carrera collection. It measures time extremely precisely thanks to its high-frequency balance wheel. The stopwatch function is easy and convenient, as the Calibre 36 is a flyback chronograph.
The Calibre 36 unites the Carrera - TAG Heuer's most celebrated collection - with the superb El Primero caliber from Zenith. TAG Heuer, a renowned Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, markets this caliber under the name Calibre 36. It vibrates at a very high frequency of 36,000 A/h, equal to 5 Hz. Most mechanical watches are powered by calibers that vibrate at 28,800 or 21,600 A/h.
The watch's high frequency enables it to be more precise and lends it its name. Its caliber technology allows the stopwatch function to time 1/10ths of seconds exactly, which is a very important advantage when using a chronograph to time race car driving.
The Calibre 36 series contains around half a dozen different models, though the designs remain thoroughly sporty. The timepieces measure 43 mm in diameter, making them a bit larger than the average watch. TAG Heuer primarily uses stainless steel for the cases, though they also make use of lightweight, robust titanium. In order to give some models (reference number CAR2B80.FC6325, for example) a matte black look, TAG Heuer uses a titanium carbide coating. This material is used not only for its color, but also because of its robustness and scratch resistance. However, the majority of the Calibre 36 models are stainless steel. The bracelets are also made of stainless steel, though TAG Heuer offers black alligator leather straps as well.
Are you looking for a timepiece that combines a sporty design with a sophisticated mechanical chronograph caliber? If so, you should consider the Calibre 36. The watch is optimized for timing racing and represents TAG Heuer's best qualities. Titanium or stainless steel cases go well with the feel of the watch. As it's waterproof to 100 m (10 bar), you can also wear it during most activities and in water. However, if you're a diver, you should take a look at TAG Heuer's diving watch, the Aquaracer.
There aren't many alternatives to the Calibre 36. Another sporty watch with a flyback function is the Ingenieur Chronograph Racer. However, there is one significant difference: the Carrera Calibre 36 costs around 5,000 euros new, while the IWC Ingenieur Racer costs around 3,000 euros more.
As the Calibre 36 is a relatively young series, vintage models don't exist yet. It will still take a few years until pre-owned watches increase in value. However, this means that you can quickly and easily find a watch in excellent or never worn condition.
The main dial is small, not taking up the entire face of the watch. It is surrounded by a ring of applied hour markers in the style of Arabic numerals, starting with 05 (at one o'clock) and going in five-minute intervals to 30 (at six o'clock) and then all the way to 60 (at 12 o'clock). This design makes it easy to see that this timepiece was made for timing. The large second hand displays the chronograph seconds and the right subdial times up to 30 minutes, while the subdial on the left keeps track of running seconds. The two subdials define the look of the Calibre 36. The date is shown in a window at six o'clock.
Some models feature a tachymetric scale on the rehaut, the edge of the dial. With it, you can use the second hand to determine the average speed over a certain distance in hours per kilometer. This feature makes the Carrera Calibre 36's close relationship with car racing even clearer. Another well-known watch with a tachymetric scale is Rolex's Daytona.
One highlight of the Calibre 36 is its flyback function. A flyback function is not necessarily a given in chronograph movements; the feature is a useful extra that requires much more work to construct. A conventional movement with a stopwatch function is started by pressing a push-piece, then stopped and set back to zero with two additional push-pieces. However, there are situations in which the three separate push-pieces can become tedious and cumbersome. Sometimes, you're timing seconds or even fractions of seconds. A flyback chronograph is helpful in such a case: You set the running stopwatch second hand back to zero by pushing a push-piece, and when you let go, it starts running again. You don't need to push a separate push-piece to start again.
Flyback chronographs are incredibly useful when timing laps, such as those at car races. They were originally used by military pilots to aid them in flying multiple direct consecutive maneuvers over a fixed number of seconds.
Sapphire glass protects the inside of the watch from above, covering the dial. It's incredibly robust; only a diamond could scratch it. It's slightly domed as well, adding to its pressure resistance. It can withstand up to 10 bar of pressure, which is equivalent to a depth of about 100 m. Therefore, the watch can accompany you whilst swimming, snorkeling, or during any other water sport.
The Carrera Calibre 36 has been around since 2012, but its movement has a much longer history. It's based on Zenith's El Primero, a movement with a legendary reputation in the watchmaking scene. The so-called "high-beat" caliber was a sensation when it was first introduced by Zenith in 1969. When the quartz crisis came six years later, Zenith stopped producing the movement and made plans to sell the production equipment. However, an employee named Charles Vermot hid 150 presses and several special tools which were needed to make the El Primero in an attic. Vermot was heavily involved in the development of the El Primero and possessed the necessary knowledge to use the equipment again one day. This finally happened nine years later after Zenith switched ownership and the quartz crisis came to an end. The new owners were delighted when Vermot showed them his secret treasure. The contents of the boxes in the attic put Zenith in a position to manufacture high-quality mechanical watches with top-quality calibers that were once again in high demand.
TAG Heuer and Zenith are both now members of the LVHM group, which is well known thanks to the luxury brands Moët, Hennessy, and Louis Vuitton. The manufacturers co-membership in this group is why TAG Heuer can use the El Primero and call it Calibre 36. A similar caliber with a flyback function is used by Zenith in the El Primero Stratos Flyback, the El Primero 405.
The Calibre 36 has a diameter of 30 mm and a 50-hour power reserve. "TAG Heuer - Calibre 36 - 31 Jewels Swiss Made" is engraved on the back of the movement, which is visible through the watch's sapphire glass case back.