The New TAG Heuer Carrera “Glassbox”. Is This The Chronograph We Didn’t Know We Needed?

by Matt Clymo

TAG Heuer is celebrating the Carrera’s 60th Birthday this year, and doing so, has released the vintage inspired 39mm “Glassbox” Carrera Chronograph at Watches and Wonders. I had the pleasure of going hands on with the watches prior to it’s release, and was quietly impressed!

What We Like

  • Great styling and design
  • Comfortable and easy to wear
  • Sizing hits the mark

What We Don’t Like

  • Leather strap could use some additional styling cues
  • Lack of lume on the dial
  • Movement finishing is a step up from the old, but could be better given the price point

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

  • Value for Money: 8/10
  • Wearability: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Build Quality: 8/10

No matter what you think about TAG Heuer, it’s hard to argue that they are one of the most recognised luxury watch brands in the world. Synonymous with motorsport, TAG Heuer have helped to shape the modern day chronograph, evolving the Carrera over the six decades since Jack Heuer designed and produced the very first Carrera in 1963. For those keeping track, I was not the biggest fan of TAG Heuer, and wasn’t until I reviewed the 60th Anniversary Edition TAG Heuer Autavia Flyback Chronograph (which you can check out here) around 12 months ago that I started to change my mind.

The all new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 39mm “Glassbox”

TAG Heuer are having a renaissance of sorts. They are revisiting their roots, heading back to the days of Jack Heuer and what helped to make them the brand they are today. And the new Carrera Chronograph collection shows this. More refined, smaller and easy wearing, with some very nice design details, the 39mm “Glassbox” Carrera Chronograph ticks a lot of boxes for modern day watch enthusiasts.

Now it would be remiss of me not to mention that TAG Heuer has released two models of the new Carrera Chronograph. A blue dial version with 2 sub-dials and date at 6 o’clock blending in with a small seconds indicator, and a black dial “Reverse Panda” variant with three silver sub-dials and date window at 12 O’clock. If you missed the release, check it out here. For the purposes of this review, I’ve focused on the Blue Dial (Ref. CBS2212.FC6535) but will mentioned the Black Dial (Ref. CBS2210.FC6534) where relevant.

The two dial variants – Blue dial with date at 6 o’clock and reverse panda with date at 12 o’clock

The Design

TAG Heuer has delved into their archives and brought back to life a design Jack Heuer came up with in the late 60’s early 70’s, and I will say, they’ve done a great job. The domed crystal is shaped like the hesalite crystal of vintage 1970’s pieces, called a “Glassbox” design – meaning the crystal curves over the edges of the dial and bezel, and blends seamlessly into the case and sides. Whilst this is a great looking aesthetic, it also has a functional purpose. When looking at the Tachymeter on the bezel at an angle, the curvature of the crystal allows this to be read at side on angles, and it works brilliantly. This not only adds to the vintage style and functionality, but gives it a unique look that sets the new Carrera Chronograph apart from others on the market today.

The Tachymeter scale easily readable from a more acute angle.

TAG have re-imagined the dial design, and made the most of the real estate on it without making it too cluttered. It’s just easy to read and has balance. The blue variant sets itself apart with two distinct sub-dials, nicely recessed with circular graining, tracking the elapsed minutes and hours on the Chronograph. At 6 o’clock, there is a small seconds dial with the date window blending in, helping to give the dial balance.

Sub-dial in detail
Small seconds and date window

Then there is the dial itself. TAG have given both models a sun-brushed finished dial, but in a circular pattern rather than the traditional radial pattern we’re so used to. This to me helps to bring the dial together, and plays with the light beautifully as it hits different parts of it. Plus it’s not something you see all that often. I will mention the one thing lacking, and this is the lume or lack of. I’ve experienced this before on Carrera’s and whilst the legibility during the day is superb, at night, the small lume pips on the our edges of the indices just doesn’t cut it unfortunately. A small gripe however.

Circular brush pattern on the dial with recessed sub-dials and small minutes counter balances out the overall aesthetic of the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph

The case design is typically TAG Heuer, similar to the models prior, but just a little more refined and easy wearing. The top of the case and lugs are all polished, nicely offsetting the brushed steel on the case and lug sides. The lugs are nicely angled, and bevelled to give it the classic TAG Carrera look. Capping this off, TAG Heuer has given the new Carrera pump-style pushers which adds to the vintage chronograph styling. The pushers are easy to use and have the right amount of give, thanks to the column wheel, making timing just that little bit easier than the lever or cam system.

The polished angled lugs and the pump style pushers enhance the vintage style of the Carrera

How It Wears

At 39mm in diameter, 46mm lug to lug and only around 13mm thick, the new Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph is a very easy wearing watch. On my 17.5cm wrist is sits nicely and wears fairly true to size. Chronographs, I feel always wear slightly larger than stated due to the crown and pushers appearing to add an extra millimeter or two, however, with the Carrera Chronograph, the lack on an external bezel and the domed crystal probably evens this out, and the smaller lug to lug also means it looks like a 39mm watch. Given the smallest watch I normally wear is 41mm, it did take some getting used to seeing a chronograph in the sub 40mm range. This is a personal preference more than anything, but saying this, I don’t think you would want to see this case size shrunk anymore.

The Carrera from top down. You can see the lugs nowhere near the ends of my wrists and sits pretty flush.

The leather strap is comfortable, and functional. TAG have given it a pressure locking folding clasp, meaning that you can adjust the position of the clasp perfectly, and then lock it into place by pushing the “teeth” into the leather. I feel other brands could use this rather than pin buckle style folding clasps where you’re limited to the hole positions for adjustment. One area for improvement is the look of the strap, at least on the blue dial. A few added touches, like white contrasting stitching, and some bolstering to give it a little extra dimension would have gone a long way. Its just a little plain for my liking.

Folding clasp on the new TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph. Easy to use and adjust to the perfect wrist size, and change when needed.

The black strap on the reverse panda variant is bolstered and has racing style ventilation holes, and looks great paired with the dial configuration. However, this has been done purposefully to give it more of a sporty vintage look, where as the blue dial is a little less sporty and more modern. And whist this is the case, I still would have liked to have seen a little more styling done for the blue dial model.

The bolstering and ventilation holes on the Reverse Panda model is a nice touch and nod to vintage racing chronographs

Under The Hood

TAG Heuer have given the new Carrera’s its new Calibre TH20-00 Automatic movement, an evolution of the Heuer 02. You can see the movement through the Carrera’s sapphire crystal case back, and now features an oscillating weight offering bi-directional winding, where previous versions only charged the movement’s mainspring if the rotor moved in an anti-clockwise direction. A major step forward in my books as it ensures the watch runs closer to its maximum 80-hour power reserve and improves precision for more of the time it’s in use.

The new TH20-00 movement in the Carrera Chronograph Glassbox, with the rotor designed in the style of the Heuer logo.

I mentioned in the release write up that the new TAG Heuer movements are now being designed and overseen by TAG Heuer’s Movements Director, Carole Forestier. This is a great move from TAG given Forestier was the watchmaker that put Cartier’s movements on the map, and even led her to winning the Best Watchmaker Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in 2012. You can start to see this influence now through the caseback, as the Calibre TH20-00 also has a higher level of finishing, which is in line with TAG Heuer’s vision to create technical and yet also elegant watches and movements. Whilst this is no way on par with high end finishes you’ll see on the likes of Breguet, or Patek Philippe, it’s a step up from the TAG Heuer of the past.

Final Thoughts

The TAG Heuer Chronograph 39mm Glassbox is the Carrera that was due. TAG have gone away from the chunky 42-44mm models and given this vintage inspired model a much needed dose of refinement. Whilst not perfect (lets be honest, what watch is?) it’s a great daily wearer, and won’t date easily. It wears comfortable and the leather strap moulds on the wrist without too much stress after a few wears.

The dial is easy to read, with as clean a layout you could get on a traditional chronograph, and TAG Heuer’s use of the date windows at either 12 or 6 o’clock works really well to aid in the decluttering and balance of the dial in each model. With a new movement in the TH20-00 calibre that packs 80hrs worth of power reserve, and 100m water resistance, the new Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph 39mm Glassbox will suit anyone looking for a watch that can be paired with a suit, or casual on weekends. Put a rubber strap on this, and you’re set for any outdoor activities you may enjoy – after all, it is a sports watch at heart!

Reference: CBS2210.FC6534 (Black Dial) / CBS2212.FC6535 (Blue Dial)


  • Case: 39mm / 46mm lug to lug
  • Thickness: 13mm thick
  • Case Material: Steel brushed and polished case
  • Case back: Steel screw-down sapphire case back
  • Dial: Circular brushed blue dial or black dial, Rhodium plated hands, applied indices with green Super-LumiNova®
  • Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective treatment
  • Water resistance:100m / 10bar
  • Movement: In-house Calibre TH20-00 Automatic
  • Power reserve: 80 Hours
  • Strap: Blue calf skin strap (blue dial variant) / Perforated black calf skin strap (black dial variant). Both with polished steel folding clasp with double safety push-buttons

Australian Recommended Retail Price: AUD $9,350

Availability: Available now through all TAG Heuer boutiques, authorised dealers and online at

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