Born in 1963 and named after the dangerous Carrera Panamericana race, the uncluttered, legible design of Jack Heuer’s sporty Carrera chronograph for racing drivers has contributed to its enduring success. Turning sixty this year, TAG Heuer unveiled three higher-end Carrera chronographs with an intriguing Glassbox design during Watches & Wonders 2023. The new Glassbox models pick up on the domed hesalite crystals featured on early Carrera models of the 1970s. Among the three recent releases is this more complex standout piece combing a chronograph complication with a tourbillon. A winning combination of classic features and contemporary tweaks, the watch is powered by a reworked in-house chronometer-certified movement designed by the renowned watchmaker Carole Forestier-Kasapi, who joined TAG Heuer as director of movements in 2020.
The Carrera is no stranger to the chrono/tourbillon combo. Who can forget that epic day in 2016 when TAG Heuer released its Carrera Heuer-02T in-house integrated chronograph and tourbillon movement with chronometer certification for an unbelievably competitive price of CHF 15,000? Appearing in various guises over the years, including this high-tech Nanograph version with a carbon composite hairspring and the Mario Kart Edition, the Heuer-02T models all have contemporary skeletonised dials and large 45mm cases.
Unlike its beefier 45mm siblings, the new Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon Glassbox has a more compact 42mm case diameter and a closed dial – save for the tourbillon aperture at 6 o’clock. Instead of the bold, avant-garde aesthetics of the 45mm models, the new Glassbox is more refined, deftly blending classical details with contemporary upgrades to improve user-friendliness and comfort.
The 100m water-resistant stainless steel case retains the classic angular lugs, the piston-style pushers and the large crown of the Carrera and is decorated with brushed flanks and polished surfaces. As part of the Carrera’s 60th-anniversary makeover, the ergonomics of the case and pushers have been refined.
However, where things take a surprising turn is the incorporation of a box glass crystal that engulfs the bezel and creates a pleasant domed surface. A nod to the domed hesalite crystals used on Carrera watches from the 1960s/1970s, the curved sapphire crystal rises up over the dial and spills down over the case, engulfing the flange.
Creating a fascinating 3D effect, the domed glass magnifies and slightly distorts the blue 60-second/minute scale on the flange and provides a wider range of angles from which to admire the tourbillon. The impression is a bit like looking at an object underwater. Notice also how the tourbillon’s aperture invades the rounded flange creating an indentation.
Similar to a pie-pan dial, the curved flange dips down towards the centre of the dial, picked out in an attractive shade of blue with a circular-brushed finish. The applied and faceted indices are also slightly curved to match the Glassbox theme. Two chronograph counters, at 9 o’clock for elapsed hours and at 3 o’clock for elapsed minutes, are highlighted with silver frames and snailed interiors. Matching the bright pop of fiery orange on the minute track, the central chronograph seconds hand is also lacquered in a bright orange colour, emulating the triangular shape of the needles used onboard dashboard instruments from the 1960s.
Compared to the larger and more contemporary 45mm models, this model’s classical and elegant temperament means there is less Super-LumiNova on the indications. Only the central spine of the hour and minute hands and the small dots above the hour markers are highlighted with green SLN.
Dominating the lower half of the dial is the aperture for the one-minute tourbillon and its cage, which reminds me of those three-spoked openworked steering wheels for racing drivers in the 1960s. The watch comes on a matching blue calfskin strap with a steel folding clasp with double safety push buttons.
A Slightly Revised Calibre (TH20-09)
A second sapphire crystal on the caseback reveals the new TH20-09 movement, an evolution of the Heuer 02 launched in 2016. Re-designed by Carole Forestier-Kasapi and her team, the new and improved movement known as TH20 now has bi-directional winding, and the warranty has been extended from two to five years. Other upgrades involve the new gear train reducing the noise of the rotor considerably and the redesigned rotor that now looks like a coat of arms from the TAG Heuer logo. The frequency is still high (4Hz/28,000vph), the movement is still COSC chronometer-certified, and the power reserve is still 65 hours. And it is, of course, a column-wheel chronograph.
Availability & Price
The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon Glassbox (reference CBS5010.FC6543) is now available and retails for EUR 23,000. Although not described as a limited edition, the brand’s website encourages potential buyers to sign up for the waiting list.