Photos by Ed Rhee

The glassbox revolution seems to be nearing completion. TAG Heuer’s incredible revamp of its Carrera chronographs, introduced last year, was met with almost unanimous acclaim, and the brand is not holding back. TAG has already released a number of special editions, and the standard editions are already available in crowd-pleasing blue and reverse panda dials, not to mention the Skipper and a solid-gold version with a matching dial. For Watches and Wonders 2024, the brand is expanding the line with another non-limited model, the panda dial TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph CBS2216.BA0041.

The new version of the Carrera Chronograph uses the same case as its siblings, measuring 39mm across and 46mm lug-to-lug. If you’ve had a chance to wear the new glassbox Carreras, you know they wear incredibly well, even with its 13.86mm thickness, which is mitigated quite a bit by the all-encompassing sapphire crystal that covers the dial and bezel. The stainless steel case features pump pushers and a branded crown with 100 m water resistance. The lugs feature the Carerra collection’s signature internal bevel and the watch is paired with a stainless steel bracelet, a first for a glassbox model. Unfortunately, TAG has not fitted it with its micro-adjustment mechanism (currently only offered on the Aquaracer), nor is there any sign here that the brand has developed and introduced a quick-release mechanism (making TAG one of the few major brands without it). On the wrist, the watch wears easily given its size, and with the newly added bracelet, I found it less top-heavy and bulbous than it was on a strap, which is a common experience I’ve had when comparing watches on bracelets versus straps.

Advertising Message

The dial here offers what many people have probably been clamoring for with its panda design. The red accents trace their roots back across multiple generations of the Carrera, with the brand identifying the Heur 7753 SN from the late 1960s. That watch, too, had a silver dial with black subdials (the S was for silver, the N was for noir). There have been plenty of other panda Carreras since then, and this watch is simply the latest, incorporating the colorway into the latest generation’s design. The dial has a sunburst finish, with red accents on the concave chapter ring and at the tip of the chrono seconds and the subdial hands. The hands receive lume, and there are pips just outside of each applied, polished hour marker. The subdials have the same snailed grooving as the other new Carrera chronographs, except for the running seconds at 6 o’clock, which is simply printed and indicated with a black hand.

Even with the framed date nestled within it, I found myself almost forgetting the small seconds was there, so much more subtle is it than the other two subdials. I think that’s kind of the point, though; TAG wanted to provide that running seconds functionality in a way that doesn’t detract from the main attraction of the chronograph. Finally, the entire dial is encircled by the black 60-second chronograph bezel, which, in previous generations, would have been outside the sapphire crystal. When you experience it in person, it’s this contrasting chronograph bezel that sets this model apart from the other three glassbox Carrera chronographs. The sloping of the surrounding crystal makes it pop much more than the others, giving this an almost exciting look on the wrist.

Powering this TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph is the in-house TH-20 automatic chronograph movement. On display through a sapphire caseback, the movement has an impressive 80-hour power reserve at 28,800 vph. The bridges feature Côtes de Genève finishing and the rotor is skeletonized in the form of the TAG shield. The caliber features a column wheel chronograph mechanism that provides a wonderfully tactile yet smooth operating experience.

Advertising Message

This is not a new watch, but anytime a panda dial drops in a major chronograph model line, people seem to get excited. Personally, I find the colorway less appealing than either of the existing options in blue or black (with silver subs). For me, it is a strong competitor and worthy of consideration for anyone looking at automatic chronographs from one of the legacy chronograph brands. That brings me to the pricing. At $6,500 USD, the Carrera Chronograph offers the most affordable automatic chronograph among those brands. It undercuts the Rolex Daytona, the Zenith Chronomaster, and the Omega Speedmaster, while offering a longer power reserve and plenty of legitimate heritage. On the wrist, it has its own presence when compared to those watches, and I can’t say whether this watch will be better or worse for everyone. For more information, please visit the TAG Heuer website

Advertising Message

Subscribe to our Newsletter