TAG Heuer continues the Carrera story with the new Dato GlassboxBorna Bošnjak
The world of vintage Heuer is a wonderful and varied one – there’s good reason the brand can lay claim to numerous truly iconic watches, after all. For this year’s LVMH Watch Week, TAG Heuer is paying tribute to yet another beloved model from the past, rendered in the fabulous Glassbox shape introduced last year. The TAG Heuer Carrera Dato and its dial layout will be immediately recognisable to lovers of all things Heuer, originating in the 1968 Dato 45 “Cyclops”, with this modern teal reinterpretation making it seem like a natural evolution of the original.
It’s all in the name
Before I get into the review itself, I wanted to touch on the inspiration behind the new Dato in a little more detail. As I’m sure you will have noticed, TAG Heuer has seemingly been making their way through their own back catalogue, reissuing or graciously nodding to numerous legendary models. The journey that began with the Carrera 160 Years limited editions continued with the Carrera 60th Anniversary and last year’s Glassbox, and now finds itself at its next stop – the Dato.
Hailing from 1966, the name actually originates from the model that inspired the black-dialled Glassbox from last year, with its date aperture at 12 o’clock. It’s the second generation from 1968 that introduced the really quirky 9 o’clock date window, “balanced” with a single, 45-minute chronograph register on the opposite side. If it looks at all familiar, that’s because it was already reissued in a 39mm size, courtesy of Hodinkee a few years back. As is the case with most things (TAG) Heuer, I implore you to pay OnTheDash a visit for a more thorough introductory lesson.
Now, to the topic at hand, and the most noticeable “feature”, if you can call it that. I say that because this odd layout came to be as a solution to a problem that Heuer themselves created. The 1966 Dato and its 12 o’clock date window were great in theory, but made reading the date difficult when the chronograph was not in operation. To resolve this, Heuer moved the date to 9 o’clock, balancing it with a single 45-minute register.
In the Glassbox Dato, the dial gets the curvaceous rehaut that sits just below the wildly domed sapphire crystal, before dipping down into a circularly grained central portion. The choices TAG Heuer made aren’t too far from the original, though the Dato’s chrono sub-register scale has been shrunken down, both in terms of its timing capabilities and actual size. Once again bordered by a concave surround, the inner of the 30-minute totaliser is finished in a large azurage pattern.
The recognisable ingot-like indices are still present, though they’ve been given extra dimension, with a bolder profile and by intersecting them with the flange. I also like that TAG Heuer didn’t bother with truncated indices at 3 and 9 o’clock, rather just including a small lume pip with each, just like with the original.
Finally, I’m so glad that the dial isn’t too crowded with text – any more than what’s present would be too much. Having said that, I do wish the new Dato came with a heritage “Heuer” logo instead, just like some other Carrera retro reissues.
By now you’ll likely be familiar with the Carrera shape. You’ve got those same faceted, strut-like lugs that finish at a point, seamlessly flowing into the sides of the case. The wide, polished top surface slims into a thin strip separating the brushed side and domed crystal, matched by the polished pushers and crown. The diameter stays at 39mm, with a lug-to-lug of 46mm and a fairly significant thickness of 13.86mm. Nevertheless, the Dato still wears quite well, even on my smaller-than-average 15.5cm wrist.
The one surprising inclusion for me was the very dressy black alligator leather strap, complete with a folding double-pusher buckle. Even though they’re not the most outwardly sporty Carreras in TAG Heuer’s line-up, the previous Glassbox models all went with sportier options, be it perforated rally-styles or sailcloth like with the Skipper. In any case, the 20mm lug width will leave you with a wealth of aftermarket options.
Although it carries a new TH20-07 designation, the movement is merely a new variant of the TH20-00 that debuted in the Glassbox, the 07 denoting the new date layout. Essentially, this is a revised version of the brand’s Heuer 02 column wheel chronograph, now equipped with bi-directional winding and an improved, 80-hour power reserve. Along with the new naming scheme, it also follows the decoration guidelines set out by TAG Heuer’s latest releases. It’s a conservative design, with no real flourishes barring some côtes de Genève, though pleasant-looking overall.
Having picked the Glassbox Skipper as one of my favourite releases of last year, you’d be hardly surprised to find out that I like the Dato as well. I’d much rather see TAG Heuer experiment with new reinterpretations of vintage Carrera models than just rehash the same novelty in different colours – hell, they’re one of the rare brands that are really spoilt for choice in that department. And how about that colour, hey? The teal is just stunning. Granted, I don’t think this watch (and more importantly, its layout) lends itself to a modern reinterpretation as well as, say, the Skipper. To try and explain what I mean, imagine the scenario of this watch coming out as it is, with no prior backstory. I think it would be way too quirky for a more general watch audience. With a great history and plenty of love for its predecessor, however, the Glassbox Dato has more than a single good reason to exist.
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Dato pricing and availability
The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Dato is available now. Price: A$9,500, CHF 6,550
|Carrera Chronograph Dato
|39mm (D) x 13.86mm (T) x 46mm (LTL)
|Sapphire front and back
|Black alligator leather, steel folding clasp
|TH20-07, in-house, automatic, column wheel chronograph
|Hours, minutes, date, chronograph
|A$9,500, CHF 6,550