The following article was produced in partnership with TAG Heuer.
The TAG Heuer Carrera is one of the most iconic watches ever made. Designed by the brand’s maverick CEO Jack Heuer back in 1963, the Carrera from the get-go was designed to be the perfect racing watch for serious motorsports competitors – but has since transcended its revhead origins to become one of the most recognisable and versatile luxury watches on the market.
Over its six-decade history, the Carrera has evolved and taken many forms: from the thin, clean designs of the 60s to the maximal designs of the 2010s, the sporty chronograph has been somewhat of a chameleon. Dedicated Heuer fans all have a favourite – and there’s plenty to pick from…
But in 2023, to celebrate the Carrera’s 60th anniversary and just in time for Watches & Wonders Geneva, TAG Heuer has resurrected one Carrera design feature that’s been almost universally loved by fans and one that makes the Carrera really stand out among today’s crowded luxury watch market: a ‘glassbox’ crystal.
The new (if you can call such a retro-inspired watch truly ‘new’) TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox brings back this quintessentially 70s Carrera design element while marrying it with 2023’s horological tech and refinement to produce a Carrera non pareil.
What’s a ‘glassbox’ crystal?
What do we mean by a ‘glassbox’ crystal? Well, by crystal, we mean the watch’s glass – 70s Carreras actually had hesalite (i.e. plexiglass, i.e. acrylic) crystals, but the 2023 Carrera Glassbox’s crystal is actually sapphire crystal.
‘Glassbox’ refers to the way the dramatically domed or ‘boxed’ crystal rises in relation to the Carrera’s case, with the curve of the crystal flowing seamlessly over the watch’s tachymeter scale that runs around the dial edge and into the case. It’s a dramatic visual effect that makes the Carrera Glassbox look bezel-less, while adding an exciting three-dimensional quality to its appearance.
This isn’t just done because it looks cool, though. There are two big practical advantages to having such a design. Firstly, it means the tachymeter scale can be read from a wider range of angles. The bezel-less design also makes the Carrera Glassbox sit nicer under one’s cuff – perfect for gentleman racers.
It’s surprising that more modern watchmakers don’t use boxed crystals in this way – which makes it even more impressive that Heuer was making ‘em in the 70s, as well as refreshing that such a clever design has been brought back.
A new movement – the TH20-00
Something that hasn’t been brought back is the 70s Carrera’s chronograph pushers. Instead, the Carrera Glassbox features beefed-up pushers which have been shaped and positioned to make them as efficient for the user as possible.
Underneath that retro glassbox crystal beats an updated version of TAG Heuer’s in-house automatic chronograph movement, the Calibre Heuer 02. This new TH20-00 movement now features an oscillating weight offering bidirectional winding, whereas previous versions only charged the movement’s mainspring if the rotor moved in a counter-clockwise direction – which delivers faster and more reliable winding, ensuring the watch is running closer to its maximum 80-hour power reserve and improving precision.
The Carrera Glassbox has launched with three different variants: a blue-dual variant with a date window at 6’o clock, integrated into the seconds indicator, and a black-dial ‘reverse panda’ variant with silver subdials which, somewhat unusually, has a date window at 12 o’clock. We’ve got a soft spot for the latter – why don’t more brands put date windows at 12?
There’s also a Carrera Glassbox Tourbillon, which eschews a seconds indicator in favour of a whopping big tourbillon (as you may have guessed by the name). The glassbox crystal makes it even easier to admire the spinning, pulsating tourbillon – which is the entire point of buying a tourbillon watch these days…
Whatever variant you opt for, you’re getting a seriously unique-looking, refined and practical chronograph that’s the perfect expression of TAG Heuer’s horological history. We can’t think of a better celebration of the Carrera’s 60th anniversary – or a better candidate for a stylish daily wearer.
Find out more about the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox – as well as the rest of TAG Heuer’s exciting Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023 releases – at TAG Heuer’s online boutique here.