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A Guide to TAG Heuers Latest Glassbox Chronographs

May 24, 2024

TAG Heuer is winning back the enthusiasts who once shunned the brand, one Glassbox chronograph at a time.

TAG Heuer's reputation among watch enthusiasts has been deteriorating for a long time. Once renowned for its iconic mechanical chronographs, the brand has diluted its image through a number of relatively inexpensive but noncompetitively priced models that used quartz or third-party movements. Thanks to investment in proprietary movement manufacturing and a new emphasis on vintage design, TAG Heuer has won over many who previously scorned the company for its inferior watchmaking.

For mass-market watches, modern iterations of vintage designs prevail. The most successful models are simply modernized versions of watches from the second half of the twentieth century–the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Rolex Daytona, and Tudor Black Bay are prime examples. The latter, which draws heavily from the Tudor archives, is largely responsible for revitalizing the brand. TAG Heuer's new design philosophy may have the potential to do the same.

It would seem that TAG Heuer's design team has finally realized that iconic designs which stay true to their heritage earn both respect and sales. The journey certainly has not been without hiccups. The recent releases of a blatantly overpriced, $138,000 Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph and a co-branded Mario Kart tourbillon raised some eyebrows, to say the least. However, the company's series of Glassbox chronographs have been very well received by watch enthusiasts.

The 2023 Carrera Chronograph Glassbox

In 2023, TAG Heuer released two new versions of the Carrera Chronograph to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the watch. Notably, the releases both feature domed "Glassbox" crystals plucked from vintage Carreras. TAG had previously made the Glassbox crystal available exclusively in limited-edition pieces. The unique crystal is mounted directly onto the midcase, filling the place of a conventional bezel. The additional space this yields is filled by a tachymeter scale on a raised flange which follows the curve of the sapphire. Importantly, the cases of the two watches are a vintage-appropriate and wearable 39mm, significantly smaller than the 42mm options in the catalog. The marketability of the releases was boosted by a positive reception in the press and an ad campaign with brand ambassador Ryan Gosling, whose popularity has surged in recent years.

Like the other Carrera models on this list, the 2023 Glassbox Chronographs feature an in-house chronograph movement befitting of their $6,500 price tags. Built on the architecture of the Caliber 02 which debuted in 2017, the TH20-00 offers an impressive 80-hour power reserve while maintaining a high frequency of 4 Hz. The movement also offers automatic winding and, of course, a column-wheel chronograph complication.

Carrera Dato

Released at LVMH Watch Week 2024, the Carrera Dato is a slightly dressier take on the Carrera format. Based on a vintage reference from 1968, the design does away with the tachymeter scale, small seconds, and hour-counter of the 2023 releases. The case has identical dimensions, including the 39mm diameter and compact lug-to-lug measurement. While the idiosyncratic layout and bright green of the dial may be polarizing, the design is rich with vintage appeal and produces an undeniably striking effect.

Carrera Skipper

The new Carrera Skipper draws inspiration from a vintage Heuer regatta chronograph from 1968. That model was released following the victory of the yacht Intrepid in the America's Cup the year prior. Jack Heuer had provided several timing devices to the racing team. The new model stays true to the design's sailing heritage, offering 100m of water resistance and retaining the 15-minute countdown timer of the original. The Skipper also revives the 1968 model's distinctive blue, teal, green, and orange color combination. In line with the rest of the collection, TAG has logically chosen to upsize the case diameter to 39mm. The brand also introduced a rose gold version of the watch at Watches and Wonders 2024.

Panda-Dial Carrera

The latest addition to the Carrera collection came out of Watches and Wonders 2024. The new release features a "panda" dial, so-called for its two black sub-dials set against a white backdrop. A black-and-white tachymeter scale is printed on the outer portion of the flange. Red accents on the tip of the seconds hand and the minute and hour counters provide additional contrast. Notably, the piece is available on a bracelet, a first for the Glassbox models.

Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon Glassbox

While the Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon lacks the mass appeal of its less-complicated counterparts, the model skillfully adapts the design to the high complication. TAG Heuer released the blue version last year in conjunction with the other two 60th-anniversary models. The dial is far more minimal than those releases, presumably to highlight the tourbillon; the design team removed the tachymeter scale and shifted the seconds markers from the interior of the flange to the outer side. The 42mm case is also larger and slightly thicker to accommodate the more complicated movement. With a retail price of $24,050, the Carrera Chronograph Tourbillon Glassbox offers surprisingly good value for such an impressive complication.

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