Monochrome Watches
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Video Review

The Reverse Panda TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox Chronograph 39mm

A blend of classic retro elements and modern mechanics... And a really cool design!

| By Robin Nooy | 5 min read |

This year, TAG Heuer celebrates the 60th anniversary of its most emblematic watch, a racing chronograph known as the Carrera, and as expected, we’ve seen already special editions or commemorative models. But that’s not all the brand had to offer. What’s probably the most important launch in recent years for this icon of motorsport is the watch we’re about to review, a new automatic chronograph with a compact 39mm case and a design so original that it gave its name to the watch: Glassbox. And while the recently-launched Carrera Skipper might feel even cooler, we believe that this classic reversed panda edition of the TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox is the one to get, as we’ll see in our video review.


The Carrera Chronograph was first introduced in 1963, although its roots go back even further than that. A decade earlier, Heuer introduced the 404 series, a chronograph that already showed the telltale signs of what would become the Carrera. With this watch in mind, Jack Heuer, grandson of the brand’s founder Edouard Heuer set out to create a watch that was as legible as possible and integrate it with the company’s racing stopwatch legacy. 

A vintage Heuer 404 Chronograph – source: Amsterdam Vintage Watches

He would name it after the grueling Carrera Panamericana, a legendary road race held in Mexico between 1950 and 1954. This event attracted the biggest name in racing, such as Piero Taruffi and Juan Manuel Fangio. Naming the watch after such a prolific race was a stroke of marketing genius, one Jack Heuer would repeat with the Monaco a couple of years later.

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Heuer Carrera 2447 Valjoux 72 Silver Dial first generation – source

The Carrera collection would be launched with Reference 2447, a rather minimalistic manually wound chronograph. It had a simple dial, baton hour markers, a sloped seconds track and two- or three-register chronograph displays. The case was 36mm in diameter and had faceted lugs, a design element still present in today’s Carrera. If you want to know more about the history of the Carrera collection, I encourage you to have a look at this article and video here. 

The TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox

Now, it is time to have a closer look at the latest addition to the collection, the Carrera Glassbox, and specifically the one with a Reverse Panda dial. This takes inspiration from early Carrera models, fitted with acrylic crystals. These crystals had a very strong curved or domed outer profile, granting the watches the nickname Glassbox.

TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox video review

From a design perspective, this new Glassbox has a 39mm wide case, that comes in at 13.9mm in height, including the crystal. The lug-to-lug dimension is 46mm, which makes for a very enjoyable wearing experience. The case is brushed on the sides, with a polished finish on the top surfaces. The lugs are faceted of course, in the typical Carrera style. On the right-hand side, the crown is flanked by two classical pump-style pushers for the chronograph.

TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox video review

With no real bezel, there’s no distraction from the very cool Reverse Panda dial. This shows incredible depth, with the domed sapphire crystal running all the way to the edge of the case and over the curved tachymeter flange. The polished indices cut into the sloped outer ring, further enhancing the 3D effect. The curvature of the crystal also distorts the view of the dial when angled, which adds even more drama to the experience.

TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox video review

Providing a solid contrast and keeping in spirit with the Carrera’s origins, the watch has a black dial with silver azurage subdials. These have a raised outer ring and circular grooves in the middle. The running seconds display is at 6 o’clock, with the chronograph 30 minutes and 12-hour counters at 3 and 9 o’clock. Time is indicated with rhodium-plated and faceted hour and minute hands, with beige Super-LumiNova inserts.

TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox video review

Now, before I go into any further detail regarding the dial, there’s one element that will surely split opinions; the date. Positioned at noon, it’s overlapped by the chronograph seconds hand when it’s not running. A nuisance to some, it does add character and balance to the dial. Personally, I didn’t mind it one bit during my time with the watch.

TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox video review

Flipping the watch over shows you the Calibre TH20-00, a slight evolution of TAG Heuer’s own automatic integrated chronograph, the Calibre Heuer 02 (basically a new bi-directional rotor and new decoration). This has a column wheel and vertical clutch for a sharp activation of the chronograph. The movement runs at a rate of 28,800 beats per hours and has a very comfortable power reserve of 80 hours. The finishing is crisp and modern, with various types of brushing on the plates and bridges, and the TAG Heuer shield-shaped central rotor.

The watch comes on a supple perforated black leather strap with a steel folding clasp. And while it does its job and lets you seamlessly adjust the length, it could have been done a bit better. It’s not bad, just not as good as my TAG Heuer Monaco uses, or even older versions of this style of folding clasp feel like.

TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox video review

Nevertheless, the watch itself is an absolute winner. It’s not limited, looks amazing, uses solid mechanics and above all, it is readily available (rare enough to be mentioned these days…) The TAG Heuer Carrera Glassbox retails for EUR 6,500 or USD 6,450, which is not exactly cheap, but it’s also not overly expensive. This, and its blue sibling, are designed with historic Carrera’s in mind, and executed to modern standards. To me, they will surely win over many hearts.

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