TAG Heuer Races Into The Future With A Bold ‘Glassbox’ Incarnation Of Its Iconic Carrera

TAG Heuer Races Into The Future With A Bold ‘Glassbox’ Incarnation Of Its Iconic Carrera

Randy Lai
Randy Lai


This year, watch enthusiasts around the globe are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the inimitable Heuer Carrera: easily among the most influential of the original racer’s chronographs, invented during the motorsport renaissance of the 1960s.

Traditionally, brands would mark the passage of such an auspicious occasion with the release of a re-issue and/or the obligatory heritage roadshow. That is, of course, unless you are TAG Heuer.

A brand with real historical chops that has its sights set firmly on the future (to date, one of CEO Frédéric Arnault’s chief passions has been the proliferation of cutting-edge, activity-centric smartwatches) TAG chose to celebrate the Carrera’s enduring influence by dropping two new models at Watches & Wonders 2023.

TAG Heuer Glassbox

Codenamed ‘Glassbox’, these Carreras were (by some margin) one of the best-received launches of the show; and even in images – we’ve taken the liberty of sprinkling in some of our own photography below – that reaction is easy to comprehend. Consisting of a classic triple register chronograph (available in two variations) and the brand’s first 42mm tourbillon, these ‘Glassbox’ Carreras are more than just individual wins.

As others have already intimated, their “reworked and improved” design language captures the energy of OG Carrera like never before: translating, with eloquent simplicity, all the magic that made the original such a gamechanger in 1963 – and such a timeless classic in 2023.

RELATED: ‘Drive, Dive, Thrive’ – All Of The Latest TAG Heuer 2023 Novelties

Marrying An Icon To A New Design Language

Whether we’re talking tourbillon or straight-up chronographs, the first thing to note about these new ‘Glassbox’ models is just how much of an aesthetic through-line they possess to Heuer sports watches of yore. Undoubtedly, this is the result of a very considered mixture of design elements, handpicked by TAG’s watchmakers: from the improved ergonomics of the case to the large, sword-like lug profile and – crucially for any Carrera – refined integration of multiple, hyper-legible time displays.

The totality of this achievement (requiring a designer to balance dozens of small, seemingly trivial details all simultaneously) is best exemplified in the new ‘Glassbox’ chronographs. At 39mm, they are among the most universally flattering watches that TAG Heuer make full stop, with the silver-on-black version (colloquially known as a ‘reverse panda’) boasting numerous Easter eggs for vintage Heuer enthusiasts. Conversely, the blue dial version illustrates just how transcendent the original Carrera DNA is: vying for pole position with the best contemporary chronographs thanks to its cool, seamlessly integrated design.

More than any other single feature, the new Carrera’s ‘Glassbox’ enclosure is what ties everything together. A far cry from the flat and – let’s be honest – unremarkable glasses which cover most modern steel sports watches, the ‘glassbox’ is a style of protective sapphire crystal that flows above and over the surface of the dial. Loosely inspired by the hesalite domes that are commonly associated with Heuer chronographs of the 1970s (e.g. the Reference 905) the ‘Glassbox’ is, once again, a promising indicator of how TAG’s designers are mining new treasure from old troves.

In profile, the domed sapphire gives these new Carreras a soft, sinuous appearance; but turn the watch side on and it’s immediately evident that the ‘Glassbox’ was always meant to satisfy a practical initiative: giving a magnified appearance to the watch’s tachymetre scale at a greater variety of angles.

To assist with reading the time at, shall we say, ‘unconventional’ orientations, each dial’s flange and hour markers have also been curved – mirroring the angle of the ‘Glassbox’ above.

Both the blue-dialled and black-dialled TAG Heuer Carrera ‘Glassbox’ retail for $9,350.

‘The Next Episode’ — Calibre TH20-00

Offering a more streamlined and elegant style of tourbillon to TAG Heuer’s 45mm models, the new ‘Glassbox’ Chronograph Tourbillon is one of the passion projects of lifelong watchmaker Carole Forestier ($34,850)

Anybody aware of TAG Heuer’s lineage knows that the brand have the process of crafting sports chronographs down to a fine art. So this year, under the watchful guidance of Carole Forestier (Movements Director) TAG Heuer has decided to up the ante with the launch of its first 42mm tourbillon – a significantly more chic complement to its range of “larger, sportier” 45mm tourbillons.

Even if you’re not into the whole mechanical song and dance of watchmaking, you’ll be hard-pressed to resist the tourbillon’s charm. A typhoon-in-miniature that replaces the escapement (an essential regulating component in all traditional watches), its hypnotic contractions are presented here atop a sea of azure blue. Understandably, TAG watchmakers have ensured that nothing muddies the tourbillon’s status as ‘star attraction’: the one other flourish being a cone-orange chronograph hand in the dial’s centre.

The Calibre TH20-09, derived from the same in-house chronograph powering the 39mm ‘Glassbox’ models, also sports a tourbillon (partially visible behind the rotor at 6 o’clock).

Hewing closely to the same design codes you’ll see playing out across the 39mm models, the Chronograph Tourbillon even shares a mechanical foundation – the Calibre Heuer 02. First introduced in 2020, the latest iteration of this in-house column wheel chronograph (calibre TH20-00) delivers a host of improvements, as a result of Forestier’s tireless commitment to improving performance.

To that end, all of the new ‘Glassbox’ movements are fitted with a rotor that is bi-directional (i.e. helping the watch run closer to its 65 or 80-hour power reserve). Forestier and her team are justifiably confident about the quality of the TH20-00 – so much so that those watches equipped with it are now backed by a 5-year warranty.

This article is sponsored by TAG Heuer. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Boss Hunting.

Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].



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