TAG Heuer Reinvents an Icon with the Carrera Chronograph 39mm “Glassbox”

Does the TAG Heuer Carrera really need an introduction? Well, I suppose to be thorough. One of the iconic motorsport chronographs, it was launched in 1963, deftly combining the sleekness and excitement of the sport that inspired it. While over the decades there have been many variations and evolutions to the Carrera, the original 2447 from 1963 has always served as a source for the brand to go back to when reinvigorating the line.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the Carrera, which they already began celebrating back in January with the release of a model that stayed very close to that original reference, though with general modern updates. While that model goes literally back to the Carreras roots, the newly launched Carrera 39mm “glassbox” mixes modern and vintage details into one of the most attractive packages from TAG in some time.

There are three models to the collection, two 39mm three-register chronos, and a 42mm chrono-tourbillon. Focusing on the former, the fact that these non-revival, non-limited Carreras are at 39mm is the first aspect to celebrate. This size, while not small by today’s standards nor the same as the original (it was 36mm), is small for TAG, whose modern chronographs are generally 41 – 45mm.


I suspect, however, there is a reason for this. As the title “glassbox” literally states, these Carrera’s have large domed sapphire crystals. Like, really large. While it is said they are inspired by the domed Hesalite crystals of 70s Carreras, they bring a surprisingly modern, or even “futuristic” style to the new watches. Additionally, they created them to run edge to edge, creating what looks like a bezelless case. Typically, wide dials make for larger wearing watches, so these likely wear larger than 39mm would indicate. Additionally, the lug width is 22mm, which adds some perceived width and muscularity.

Otherwise, the case design is a modernized take on the original. The inward turning, faceted lugs are, of course, quite prominent from above, keeping that signature Carrera style but the profile, pushers, and crown all are from the modern era of the line. The view from the backside of the automatic caliber TH20-00 is, of course, a modern sight through and through. The newest iteration of the calliber Heuer 02, it now features bi-directional winding in addition to an 80-hour power reserve, column-wheel actuation, 33 jewels, date, and a frequency of 28,800 bph.

The dial is where these watches get particularly interesting, however, and the mix of new and old is most clearly on display. There are two versions, all blue, and black with silver sub-dials. They differ not just in color, but also one significant detail which we’ll get to a in a moment. At a glance, from above both dials seem to stick closely to a classic Carrera layout. There are applied markers for the hours with a printed index for the minutes/chronographs seconds around and between them. A tachymeter scale encircles the dial, and sub-dials sit at 3, 6, and 9.

At an angle, however, the depth and unexpected shape of the dial becomes apparent. The tachymeter and printed index sit on a tall applied ring that curves in a unique way. Starting from the outside, it curves up, creating a rounded convex surface that essentially points out and away from the dial, following closely to the curvature of the crystal. This surface features the tachymeter. It then crests and sweeps down creating a concave bowl or valley for the remainder of the dial. Even the applied metal markers curve slightly to match this element, which is a nice touch.

That detail I saved for last is the date placement. On the blue dial you’ll find the date situated at 6. Classic, typical, and non-disruptive. On the black and silver, however, the date is up at 12, which I absolutely love. Of course, there is a reason for this, as it refers to the Carrera 3147 Dato 12 from the 60s, which was an early implementation of the date on a Carrera. They brought this back in 2020 on a couple of limited editions which were much more modern looking overall. It’s great to see them use the execution on a open model as it is a bit of a risk. When not in motion, the chronograph seconds hand slightly obscures the date. It’s weird, but in an “adds personality” kind of way.

The Carrera Chronograph 39mm is an exciting addition to the TAG line up. For years, there seemed to be a divide between vintage-inspired Carreras, which were largely limited editions, and the modern models, which were larger, and far more aggressive in style. These new models finally meld the past and present together, giving enthusiasts details they want with unexpected modern updates. Priced at 6,300 CHF, the Carrera Chronograph 39mm will be available in April.

But wait, there’s more! Should the 39mm model be a bit too pedestrian for you, there is, of course, a larger version with a tourbillon. Coming in at 42mm, it utilizes the Caliber TH20-09, which features a tourbillon at the six position, and is chronometer certified. This model utilizes the same large crystal and dial shape, though there are subtle changes to the layout itself. The printed minutes/chrono-seconds index has been moved to the outer surface, replacing the tachymeter, creating more open space on the lower dial. Coming in at 23,500 CHF, these are actually incredibly well-priced for a tourbillon chronograph, if still expensive pieces. Tag Heuer

Stay tuned to #watchesandwonders2023 for more news and releases from Geneva.

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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