Biebuyck is already ready for collectors to get upset about the new Skipperera, which is more of an homage to the original watch than a faithful one-to-one production. The watch maintains the original’s distinguishing vibrancy, and the pops of orange, green, and teal burst with even more satisfying color on the 2023 version. Even the blue takes on a depths-of-the-ocean pitch that amps up the contrast with the colorful subregisters. Still: “I can already see the comments,” Biebuyck said warily.
So, what are they going to say? “They’re going to complain about the running seconds [the subdial at 6 o’clock], they’re gonna complain about the ‘Skipper’ on the dial, they’re probably going to complain about the date, they’re going to complain about the Tag Heuer logo, which they always do,” said Biebuyck. But he understands that making a watch in 2023 is about doing more than appeasing the small but vocal minority. Collectors, he says, love to be able to read the date on their watch, for instance. (The vocal minority believes this window clunks up the dial.) In my opinion, if there’s one reasonable gripe, it’s that the third subregister at 6 o’clock is one ingredient too many. The reasoning for it is technical: the movement inside the watch has to have three subdials. “The hash marks look a little bit fussy,” Stein said. OK, that’s enough nerdy stuff.
The Skipper isn’t just a cool and unique watch—it’s also massively important in the history of Tag Heuer. The watch laid the foundation for Heuer to push into other aquatic endeavors like diving. And when Heuer became Tag Heuer in the mid-’80s, the company leaned on its dive watch collection at the time (the Series 2000) to rebuild the business. “The mental thing is in ‘87, we turn over $30 million and in 1996 we’re turning over $500 million, and we’re super profitable,” says Biebuyck. “It’s funny—from an acorn grows an oak.”
The release of the Skipperera only fans the flames on the Carrera, which I’ve already described as the hottest watch of 2023. It’s the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship racing model and Tag’s gone all out to celebrate. The year started with a reproduction of a beloved panda-dial model from the ‘60s. At Watches & Wonders, Tag innovated on the watch by bringing back a case style from the ‘70s known as the “glassbox,” which gets its name from the large sapphire crystal that curves over the dial and excises the bezel (the ring that usually sits on top of the crystal). The new Skipperera also adopts the Glassbox style, which should be a foundational move for Tag moving forward. This is the best modern update to the Skipperera, in my opinion. I got to try the Glassbox on in Geneva in March, and removing the bezel really makes for a nice, svelte watch.
The Skipperera will be a guaranteed hit for Tag. The watch is a tribute to one of the most beloved and coveted watches in the brand’s lineage. It comes with a bold colorway that’s going to jive perfectly with collectors’ more adventurous tastes in 2023. And the watch has historical heft to boot. “This is a watch that will be very popular,” Stein said. Best of all: this is not a limited-edition. The Skipper is going in the permanent catalog, meaning that even as the fire continues to blaze on the hottest watch of the year, it won’t be out of reach.
The Tag Heuer Carrera Skipper is available now for $6,750.
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Exclusive: Tag Heuer Is Reviving One of Its Rarest, Most Beloved Watches