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Saturday, June 22, 2024

A Week On The Wrist: The TAG Heuer Carrera 'Glassbox' 39mm: It's Time To Care About The Carrera Once more

TAG Heuer is likely one of the most acknowledged watch manufacturers round. Nevertheless it’s fallen out of favor with watch fanatics over time. That will have modified this yr with the discharge of the TAG Heuer Carrera “Glassbox” in 39mm. It is even been referred to as one of the best TAG Heuer in years. As a long-time lover of the Carrera – I’ve owned a few classic ones over time – I needed to spend every week with it on my wrist to see if it lives as much as the reward.

tag heuer carrera glassbox 39mm black

On the floor, it is a well-sized, fashionable watch that pulls on Heuer’s heritage with out overdoing it. However I needed to dig deeper into the Carrera Glassbox to see what it is all about, and what it’d imply for the path of TAG Heuer. That is A Week On The Wrist with the brand new, black TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox in 39mm.

A Transient Historical past Of The Carrera

heuer carrera chronograph history

Heuer launched the Carrera in 1963. These unique manual-wind Carreras from the ’60s are a few of my favourite chronographs, ever. Every is, to steal a Stacey-ism, one unit of pure chronograph – no extra, no much less.

Reference Factors: The Heuer Carrera

Earlier this yr, we went deep on the classic Heuer Carrera in Reference Factors, that includes greater than 40 totally different Carreras. The story begins with the manual-wind Carrera. Test it out right here

Jack Heuer designed the Carrera and named it after the legendary Carrera Panamerica, a grueling, 1,000-plus mile race via Mexico that solely ran for 4 years as a result of it was so intense. As he is defined to us, he designed the watch with most legibility in thoughts. Every part right down to the size and thickness of the markers on the outer scales was thought of with readability in thoughts (watch the linked video for the complete explainer, nevertheless it’s all concerning the rule of thirds). Heuer had additionally simply secured the rights to make use of the strain ring, the small outer ring that holds the crystal in place and will increase water resistance. This meant Heuer might add the chronograph’s outer scales to the strain ring, permitting for a big, clear dial. 

The Carrera had lots in widespread with its contemporaries, specifically the Omega Speedmaster and much more so with the Rolex Daytona. The Daytona and Carrera each used a Valjoux 72 caliber and had dials made by Singer, which owes to their related three-register layouts, hour markers, and font. Look carefully, and you will see a few of these particulars are within the Glassbox. However the Carrera has at all times been a favourite of mine. The design is clear, there’s numerous selection to get misplaced in, and Heuer’s ties to racing run legitimately deep.

tag heuer carrera 2447 nst

A Heuer Carrera 2447 NST (with Volvo dial right here) served because the inspiration for the brand new Carrera Glassbox. As seen in our Heuer Carrera Reference Factors

An previous Carrera 2447N…

…and 7753N I used to personal, which helped set up my love for all issues Carrera.

Maybe most significantly, these classic Carreras are, largely, less expensive than comparable watches from Rolex or Omega. Certain, there are a number of holy grail Carreras, which Jeff Stein has delineated properly over at On the Sprint. As somebody who grew up in Indianapolis going to the Indy 500, any Heuer with the Speedway’s wings and wheel emblem is a private favourite. However even these grails do not go a lot above $50k or so, relying on the day. Strive discovering any respectable classic Daytona for that a lot. I’ve owned a few classic Carreras over time, and so they stay a few of my favourite classic watches. At 36mm, the case is compact, however the lengthy, polished lugs give it a definite and stylish presence on the wrist. It is this stability we have been ready to see TAG Heuer replicate in a contemporary Carrera.

tag heuer carrera glassbox 60th anniversary

The sixtieth Anniversary Carrera launched earlier this yr was the final launch to make use of the first-gen 39mm “Glassbox.” 

Whereas the identify Carrera dates again to the ’60s, TAG Heuer launched the “Glassbox” in 2015. The brand new domed sapphire crystal in a 39mm case was designed to recall to mind the domed plastic crystals of these classic Carreras. From 2015 till 2023, Heuer used the 39mm Glassbox case in eight references, however they had been at all times restricted editions (a pair – the Dato and the Skipper – had been ours). Sometimes, these had been direct references to historic designs, as indicated by the “Heuer” solely emblem at 6 o’clock. These restricted editions additionally all had a little bit of a bug: when considered straight on, it might be tough to see the tachymeter. Effectively, not.

For 2023, the sixtieth anniversary of the Carrera, TAG Heuer launched the second technology of the 39mm Glassbox. Most significantly, not like the primary technology of the Glassbox, these are normal manufacturing watches, and never restricted editions.

The Spec Sheet

tag heuer carrera glassbox 39mm

The Carrera Glassbox on my 16cm wrist. 

The up to date TAG Heuer Carrera “Glassbox” has a 39mm diameter, measures 46mm lug-to-lug, and is 14mm thick. It has a bezel-less development, with the glassbox crystal fitted immediately into the midcase. The lugs are extremely polished, whereas the midcase is brushed on the edges. The size put on properly, although not with out flaws (extra on that in a second). The dial has a concave form the place the outer scale’s markers are positioned on the upward-sloped portion of the dial and the numerals sit on the prime. This has the impact, notably when considered at an angle, of filling up the domed crystal. It is an odd answer to the “downside” posed by the Glassbox design, specifically, what to do with all that unfavorable house, however one which completely fascinated me all week. It is not like any of the earlier Glassbox dials, nevertheless it seems like a contemporary tackle the unique retention ring that supplied a 3rd dimension to the unique Carrera. A normal theme right here is that TAG has taken loads of heritage inspiration for the brand new Glassbox, however hasn’t overdone it.

tag heuer carrera glassbox dial

The sloped dial of the Glassbox is not like something I’ve seen in one other watch.  

The black Carrera Glassbox comes on a comfortable, padded leather-based strap that is perforated to recall to mind old-school racing straps. The strap tapers from 20mm to 18mm and is connected with a double-trigger deployant clasp. Due to the padding, it is really a bit powerful to string via the deployant, however if you happen to can floss your tooth, you possibly can measurement this clasp. The strap leans a bit into the racing cosplay of the Carrera, however that is fantastic; watches, particularly classic watches, are numerous cosplay anyway.

blue dial carrera glassbox 39mm 2023

The blue dial Carrera has a extra fashionable vibe. 

I selected to spend every week with the black dial, however there’s additionally a extra modern-looking blue model. I get why some folks (learn: Danny Milton) want the blue dial, however I simply could not recover from the phantom seconds subdial that bleeds into the 6 o’clock date window.

The black model takes extra queues from Heuer’s heritage, a direct callback to the ref. 2447NST and its reverse panda structure with black dial and silver sub-registers. There’s “fauxtina” lume on the arms and plots above the utilized hour markers. I discovered the appliance modest sufficient to be inoffensive. The arms have a black strip working down the center, calling to thoughts the second-gen of the unique Carrera, when a black strip was added to extend legibility. The sub-registers are effectively executed, with the font harkening again to the unique Singer-produced Carrera dials.

tag heuer carrera glassbox 39mm thickness

It measures 14mm thick, however about 3mm comes from the “Glassbox” crystal. 

After all, we have now to speak concerning the date placement. The date window sits at 12 o’clock and truly performs with the remainder of the dial comparatively effectively. However a part of it’s because when the chronograph hand is zeroed out, it partially blocks the window, making it tough to learn. The constructive spin on this, if you happen to do not actually like date home windows, is that it virtually makes the watch really feel like a no-date proposition. The crucial (and extra real looking) take is that it is mainly a design flaw.

Humorous sufficient, when Heuer first launched a date to the Carrera within the ’60s with the Dato ref. 3147, it additionally positioned the date window above 12 o’clock. It rapidly realized the readability challenge and moved the date window to 9 o’clock, creating the now-iconic Dato that fanatics love and that served as inspiration for the Hodinkee Skipper and Dato restricted editions. Generally, we do not fairly study from our previous errors.

tag heuer carrera glassbox on wrist

Earlier iterations of the 39mm Glassbox used the previous “Heuer” emblem, however I used to be really happy to see the trendy TAG Heuer mark on this new technology of the Glassbox. This is not a heritage watch – it is a completely fashionable tackle the unique Carrera. It is the kind of watch that TAG Heuer ought to be making. TAG Heuer has been round for almost 40 years now and it is obtained a historical past of its personal. On the one hand, it creates cutting-edge watches (TAG does stand for avant-garde, in spite of everything) just like the Plasma Tourbillon; on the opposite, it makes an attempt to appease fanatics with limited-edition heritage remakes. The Carrera Glassbox fantastically balances these two sides of TAG (I am not afraid to confess that the Mario Kart collabs one way or the other hit the identical word for me; it exhibits TAG would not take the entire racing heritage factor too severely).

It is not excellent, however the Carrera Glassbox is a big step in the proper path for TAG Heuer. It builds on the earlier success of these Glassbox restricted editions to make a Carrera Glassbox that is match for contemporary shoppers.

“We felt the potential was restricted by the truth that [these watches] had been considered as classic re-editions,” model CEO Frederic Arnault mentioned of the first-gen Glassbox when introducing the brand new Glassbox earlier this yr. “The thought grew to become, ‘How can we proceed to modernize it to make it the watch of at the moment?'”

tag heuer carrera caliber th20-00

The TH20-00 caliber contained in the Carrera Glassbox, that includes a column-wheel chronograph and vertical clutch. 

Contained in the Carrera Glassbox is the manufacture caliber TH20-00. It is a powerful, automated chronograph motion that beats at 4 Hz and has an 80-hour energy reserve. We’ll get to this in competitors, however the caliber is best-in-class and just about unmatched at this value level. The TH20-00 is the following technology of the caliber Heuer 02, the in-house motion TAG launched in 2017. It has a column wheel and vertical clutch mechanism, precisely what you’d ask of a luxurious, in-house chronograph caliber. The caliber is seen via the sapphire caseback. The economic ending is not a lot to take a look at, nevertheless it’s at all times enjoyable to see a column wheel, mainly the on-off swap for the chronograph mechanism, in motion.

The vertical clutch ensures the chronograph actuation is {smooth} when urgent pump pushers. It is not a buttery-smooth engagement, however there is a satisfying slap feeling whenever you begin the chronograph.

A Week On The Wrist

tag heuer carrera glassbox black dial 39mm

The vanity of A Week On The Wrist is that the reviewer retains the watch on for seven complete days to see the way it strikes from morning to nighttime, informal to dressy. As a lot as I might like to embody the ritual of slipping on a tux nightly at 6 p.m. (what am I, a farmer?), I am going to admit I by no means put on way more than a button-down shirt and slacks. However the Carrera Glassbox lives as much as its promise as a go-anywhere fashionable sports activities chronograph. If you’d like a classic Carrera, it is best to simply get a type of as a substitute (and you’ll most likely discover a two-register Carrera for about the identical value because the Glassbox). This additionally is not a reissue just like the earlier technology Glassbox editions and even the CS3110 from the ’90s. This can be a completely fashionable TAG Heuer, and it wears like one.

To reply the largest query: The thickness is not a lot of a problem. It is 14mm, and about 3mm is as a result of domed crystal. I used to be left barely disenchanted by the angular lugs; or extra precisely, the lug-to-diameter ratio (if that is a factor). Let me clarify: The unique Carrera is 36mm in diameter however about 45mm lug-to-lug, due to these lengthy, polished lugs. They’re daring however elegant, giving the Carrera a refined wrist presence. At 39mm and 46mm lug-to-lug, The Carrera Glassbox feels brief and squat by comparability.

tag heuer carrera glassbox dial macro

Nevertheless it’s not sensible to check the trendy Glassbox to the classic Carrera. So as soon as you set that apart, the very fact stays: This watch wears splendidly on the wrist. It is compact, however with no bezel and that sloped dial, it might really feel even greater. The Heuer Carrera was the right “gown chronograph” – the watch you’d put on to the race monitor and to the black-tie awards ceremony later that evening. The TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox is feels extra like a real sports activities chronograph. With the tachymeter scale sitting above the remainder of the dial, the perform of the chronograph is kind of actually entrance and heart; with the TH20-00 inside, the Glassbox lives as much as its promise of efficiency.

Legibility is great, simply as Jack Heuer would’ve demanded; any visibility points from the previous-generation Glassbox are gone, due to the brand new dial-bezel combo. With the tracks raised above the primary dial, the chronograph capabilities particularly effectively as a chronograph.

tag heuer carrera glassbox thickness

The concave form of the dial slopes upwards in the direction of the dial edge and fills up the crystal. The dial is actually busy in comparison with, say, the sixtieth Anniversary Carrera, however the actual inspiration for this watch is the 2447NST, which will get a little bit busy with the outer scale. Its intention is definitely extra formidable than these re-editions, a contemporary tackle the core components of the unique Carrera. At sure angles, it virtually appears just like the tachymeter itself is a sapphire bezel. The sub-registers are notably effectively executed, with font and round graining that really feel pulled from the ’60s.

Collectively, the crystal and sloped dial create this novel, fantastic, complicated optical phantasm that made me need to hold wanting on the dial. On paper, it is a black and silver chronograph dial, however there’s a lot extra occurring right here.

The Competitors

On value alone, the Carrera Glassbox, MSRP $6,450, has loads of competitors. Longines, Tudor, and Omega, amongst others, supply stable chronographs within the $5,000–$7,000 vary. Here is the place the Carrera Glassbox matches in with some rivals:

  • Longines Spirit Chronograph: $3,225
  • Tudor Black Bay Chrono: $5,500 (on bracelet)
  • TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox: $6,450
  • Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch: $6,600 (on strap)
  • IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41: beginning at $7,600
  • Breitling Premier or High Time: beginning at $8,500

Have a look at this record and you will understand none of those are whole comps with the specs, design, and value of the Carrera Glassbox. Let’s take a better look to see what I imply.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

omega speedmaster 2021

Sapphire Speedy Professional

All of the so-called shortcomings of the Speedmaster Moonwatch imply that, technically talking, it falls wanting the Carrera Glassbox on paper. It is manual-wind, solely has 50m of water resistance, and the design hasn’t modified a lot because the Seventies. However, because the saying goes, this can be a function, not a bug. Omega has constantly improved the Speedmaster over time, most not too long ago in 2021. It is by no means gone out of fashion or out of manufacturing. In some methods, that is what TAG Heuer might’ve – maybe even ought to’ve – been doing with the Carrera during the last 50 years.

A Grasp Chronometer Speedy Professional begins at $6,600 on strap, a little bit extra on the bracelet relying on the kind of crystal you select. The truth that there’s even a normal manufacturing Carrera I would point out in the identical breath because the Speedmaster exhibits how far TAG Heuer has managed to come back with this one, well-executed launch. Certain, if you happen to’re selecting one fashionable chronograph so as to add to your watch field, I am most likely going to advocate the Speedmaster over the Carrera Glassbox more often than not. However for a sure sort of individual, the TAG Heuer is an attention-grabbing possibility that gives one thing totally different.

Tudor Black Bay Chrono

tudor black bay chrono

As with most discussions at this value level, it comes again to Tudor. The Black Bay Chronograph is available in at $5,500 on a bracelet however wears greater than the Carrera Glassbox (41mm diameter x 14.5mm thickness). It makes use of the MT5813, primarily a variation of the Breitling B01 constructed for Tudor. So for Tudor, it is not an in-house motion and the specs do not match the TH20-00. In the meantime, after discontinuing the Heritage Chronograph this yr after which teasing us with a gold “Large Block” for (now postponed) Solely Watch, full with an in-house motion, fanatics are eagerly ready to see what a next-generation heritage chrono from Tudor would possibly appear like.

Longines Spirit Chronograph

longines spirit chronograph

I really like so a lot of Longines’ heritage-inspired releases, however none of its chronographs have fairly nailed it for me but. What the model’s chronograph choices supply in value (sub-$5,000), they typically lose in specs. The Spirit Chronograph is a bit large for our pleasant competitors (42mm), whereas the new Spirit Flyback is thick thick thick (17mm).

Different Competitors

breitling premier b09

I discussed the Breitling B01 caliber used within the Black Bay Chrono, which might be the closest competitor to the TH 20-00 from a technical perspective. Breitling makes use of its producer caliber in quite a lot of its personal collections, however they’re all a bit too costly to be cheap options. The Navitimer B01 begins at $9,000, whereas the Premier B09 and the High Time B01, nice comparability by way of minimal, mid-century design, every begin at round $8,000. It is also my obligation to say that Habring² makes a hell of a chronograph (and even a cut up seconds) for below $10k, if you may get your arms on one.

Additionally too costly to say as competitors: IWC’s Pilot’s 41 Chronograph begins at $7,600 on a strap (the IWC Portugeiser begins at $8,400), whereas the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Authentic begins at $9,500 on a strap. We might proceed to go up market till we attain the up to date Rolex Daytona at $15,100 – however by then we’re actually speaking about one thing else, aren’t we?

After all, this all assumes you are strolling into the native AD and need to be one thing new. Many of those watches that fall above our value level may be discovered cheaper pre-owned. Past that, we might begin to discuss Tudor chronographs from the ’90s, however then this begins to morph into a unique dialog.

The Carrera And The Future Of TAG Heuer

tag heuer carrera glassbox chronograph

We waited about 20 minutes for him to land this grind. 

Is the TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox actually one of the best TAG Heuer in years? It could be, however not essentially for what this watch is – and it’s a superb chronograph – however for what it says about the way forward for TAG Heuer. 

For the primary time shortly, TAG Heuer has managed to strike a stability between its historical past and its fashionable watchmaking, all in a single launch. It is not a heritage-play Heuer, or a completely avante-garde TAG Tourbillon. It is one thing proper in between. It is completely TAG Heuer.

Store this story

For extra data go to TAG Heuer. The Hodinkee store is a licensed retailer of TAG Heuer watches, discover the gathering right here.

TAG Heuer is a part of the LVMH group. Though LVMH Luxurious Ventures is a minority investor in HODINKEE, we keep full editorial independence.

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