The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox Gold is covered in motorsports gloryJamie Weiss
Gold has always been associated with success, particularly when it comes to sporting endeavours. Similarly, few things represent success more than a fine gold watch. This is something that Heuer’s maverick former CEO Jack Heuer knew very well, with the ever-savvy salesman coming up with a brilliant idea to promote his watches back in the day. 1970 saw the arrival of the first yellow gold automatic Carrera, the Heuer ref. 1158 CHN. Jack decided to gift examples of these luxe Carreras to winning Formula 1 drivers, with stars like Niki Lauda, Jacky Ickx and Ronnie Peterson eagerly toting their gold Heuers.
Soon, gold Heuer Carreras became a real status symbol among drivers – as well as among motorsports fans. To this day, there’s something inextricably glamorous about wearing a gold Carrera. That brings us to 2023, where TAG Heuer has recaptured that golden glamour with the new Carrera Chronograph Glassbox in yellow gold: a gloriously retro and sumptuous piece that absolutely oozes glory.
We’ve spoken before about how ingenious the Carrera Glassbox’s dial design is – or more specifically, the way its unique bowl-like flange beautifully curves up into its vintage boxed crystal. This design gives the Carrera Glassbox’s dial a uniquely three-dimensional look and makes it appear bezel-less while freeing up more dial real estate, making it even more effective as a tool watch. However, this effect suits this dressier gold model particularly well: it maximises the amount of gold on display, making the watch appear like it’s hewn out of one piece of solid gold.
The Carrera Glassbox Gold’s dial is evocative of the Heuer ref. 1158 CHN (the first-ever gold Carrera reference), featuring a date window at 6 o’clock, black subdials and a black lacquered seconds hand. However, where the ref. 1158 CHN’s subdials were simple matte black, the Carrera Glassbox Gold’s are elegantly snailed. It also features a running seconds indicator at 6 o’clock and, naturally, features a TAG Heuer logo instead of a Heuer one at 12 o’clock. The Carrera Glassbox Gold is also significantly more luminous than the old ref. 1158 CHN, with Super-LumiNova gracing its hands and dotted above its indices.
As you might have guessed, the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox Gold’s 39mm case is crafted from 18k 3N solid yellow gold, with its case featuring a pleasant combination of polished and brushed surfaces. The top and bottom of the watch as well as its hands and indices are beautifully polished, while the sides of its case and its dial are finely brushed. Additionally, its gold-plated flange features a stippled effect, which to my eyes reminds me of an unpolished gold nugget.
Under the hood beats the latest evolution of TAG Heuer’s in-house Heuer 02 chronograph movement, the TH20-00. This automatic column wheel calibre features bi-directional winding and an impressive 80-hour power reserve while beating at a respectable 4Hz. I feel as if TAG missed a trick here by not gold-plating the rotor or somehow fancying up the TH20-00 for this gold model – when the rest of the watch feels so elevated, its comparatively plain movement feels like an aberration (especially when you consider that the recently released Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche features a steering wheel-shaped rotor).
Like the stainless steel black-dialled Carrera Glassbox (the one that’s got that funky date window at 12 o’clock), the Carrera Glassbox Gold comes mounted on a rally-style perforated black calfskin leather strap, adorned with a gold pin buckle. This balances the weight of the watch, making it surprisingly comfortable to wear, despite its precious metal construction. However, the stainless steel Carrera Glassbox’s leather straps come with proper clasps, whereas this gold model only has a pin buckle. Again, this just feels like a missed opportunity (or less generously, cost-cutting) from TAG Heuer – although it must be said that a full gold clasp would add significantly to the weight of the watch and potentially throw off its balance.
I was already a big fan of the Carrera Glassbox, but I think this gold model suits its design particularly well. Its bezel-less appearance allows all that gold to really shine, while its retro design cues reinforce its connection to sporting triumphs. Last year, TAG released a similarly motorsports-inspired yellow gold Carrera Chronograph 42mm, which featured a tasteful black and gold ‘John Player Special’ colour scheme. That was a cool watch, but this Glassbox – with its gold dial and more artful proportions – feels even more precious.
It’s also a piece that’s emblematic of TAG Heuer’s desires to continue moving upmarket… But one that shows they’ve got every right to do so. What a way to celebrate the Carrera’s 60th anniversary.
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox Gold pricing and availability
The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Glassbox Gold will be available from November 2023. Price: A$31,150, US$21,500, CHF 21,000.
|Case Dimensions||39mm (D) x 13.9mm (T) x 46mm (L2L)|
|Case Material||18k 3N yellow gold|
|Water Resistance||100 metres|
|Dial||Yellow gold-plated vertical brushed dial, black snailed subdials|
|Crystal(s)||Box-domed sapphire front and sapphire caseback|
|Strap||Perforated black calfskin with yellow gold pin buckle|
|Movement||TH20-00, automatic column-wheel chronograph|
|Power Reserve||80 hours|
|Functions||Chronograph, hours, minutes, running seconds, date|