TAG Heuer is basically known for two models: the Carrera and Monaco, both being chronographs. This is not to say that TAG Heuer has not released other collections that have their own merits, however the Swiss brand is best known for its chronographs. A few months ago, I wrote about the history of the Carrera collection which dates back to 1963 with the reference 2447. Many references were released since, some being more popular than others, coming in various sizes and dial colors and configurations. During the 2023 Watches & Wonders watch fair, TAG Heuer released what could be seen as one of the most important Carrera models of the past few decades: the Carrera 39mm also known as the “Glassbox.”
The TAG Heuer Carrera 39 Specifications
The new model comes in two variants: a black panda dial with a date at the 12 o’clock, and a blue dial with a date at the 6 o’clock. They are equipped with the new TH20-00 caliber that has bi-directional winding, beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and comes with 80 hours of power reserve. It is a full-fledged chronograph workhouse that displays the running seconds at the 6 o’clock, a 30-minute totalizer at the 3 o’clock, and a 12-hour counter at the 9 o’clock. This wonderful movement is housed in a case 39mm in diameter (a diameter normally reserved for vintage-inspired Carrera’s) that is endowed with 100 meters of water resistance.
Both variants come with a leather strap that matches the color of each dial tone. The new caliber TH20-00 can be admired thanks to a see-through sapphire case-back and its half-chevron shaped rotor. Looking at the case from the side, it is impressive to see that the dramatically domed sapphire crystal lands perfectly at the edge of the case, while the short and turned lugs give the impression that the case is compact. The finishing accentuates the Glassbox effect by adorning the top of the lugs and chronograph pushers with high polished surfaces. The side of the case is brushed.
The TAG Heuer Carrera 39 Design
What is perhaps the most important fact about the new Carrera is that it draws strong inspirations from the original model dating back to 1963 whilst being resolutely modern. Both versions have applied markers that slope down towards the center of the dial, pencil-style hands that were incised in the middle to make space for a long streak of lume, and a classic three sub-register dial layout. The minute track is painted on the sloped rehaut that culminates into the shape of a mountain to then descend back towards the edge of the dial on which the tachymeter scale is printed, near the domed sapphire crystal. Hence the nickname of “Glassbox.” It’s as if we are looking at a miniature representation of a nature scene.www.tagheuer.com
The black version has a framed date window at the 12 and white (almost silver) sub-registers that come with a radial finish. The lume on the hands, applied markers, and on the painted dots located outside of the hour markers have a cream color, creating a subtle contrast with the otherwise monochrome dial color scheme. The blue version has a framed date window at the 6—cutting out from the running minimalist looking seconds sub-register. The other two registers have the same color as the dial, a sunburst blue, and also come with radial finish. The lume on the blue version is white, again creating a gentle contrast with the dial.
Ever since I wrote the article presenting the Carrera collection and its history, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by this model. I love how the first Carrera looked simple and utilitarian, being highly legible and subtly elegant. This new version offers some of the best visual traits of the old model whilst presenting a new design and experience. The “Glassbox” look of the Carrera 39 is rather unique and appears outstanding on photos. And the fact that TAG Heuer decided to keep its dimensions reasonable, there is a lot to love about this new model.Featured image: www.tagheuer.com