Review: TAG Heuer Carrera Dato “Glassbox”

Less instrument, more dressy, and still done well.

When TAG Heuer revamped the Carrera in 2023 to create the “Glassbox”, it managed to transform a vintage remake into something more modern. The result was praised by enthusiasts, and arguably expanded the brand’s audience. This year TAG Heuer built on the same concept with the Carrera Dato “Glassbox”, a design inspired by the ref. 3147 of 1968.

Featuring an unusual date window at nine, the Dato has a single 30-minute register at three o’clock, giving it an asymmetric layout that still has visual balance. Quirky dial design aside, the Dato is standard Glassbox, right down to the highly domed crystal and in-house TH20 movement.

Initial Thoughts

I write this as the owner of the Carrera “Glassbox” with a black dial, nicknamed “reverse panda”, which was my first-ever TAG Heuer. I was never really a fan of the brand before but when I saw it, I was impressed by the aesthetics. Most striking was how much the dial stands out when on the wrist due to the relatively short lugs. I ended up pulling the trigger on the Glassbox after a few months of contemplation.

The Carrera Glassbox in the “reverse panda” colourway

On paper, the Dato is not much different from the original Glassbox, since it has exact same specifications aside from the dial’s colour and layout as well as a minor movement tweak to remove two counters. In reality, however, the aesthetic changes make it an entirely different watch.

The Dato is a cleaner design that gives something of a dress-watch look. Although the Dato still has the dimensions of a sports chronograph, I would go so far as to describe it as a sports-dress chronograph, with more of an emphasis on “dress”. It certainly looks less like a typical sports chronograph than the standard model with triple registers.

And the dial design is appealing in itself. Since it has fewer counters, Dato is less functional than the standard Carrera, but the result is arguably more interesting and appealing due to the concise asymmetry of the dial.

The dial has a single register for the elapsed minutes, with neither a small seconds nor an hour counter. The removal of the two sub-dials reduces the sporty, instrument-like appearance typical of a chronograph. Enhanced the clean aesthetic is the fact that the minute counter is in the same colour as the rest of the dial, whereas most sports chronographs have contrast-colour sub-dials.

The Carrera Dato costs US$6,550 – just US$100 more than the standard model – which is reasonable all things considered. The Glassbox design is intrinsically attractive, and it stands out from the competition both technically and aesthetically. The case is a historical design that’s finished well, while inside is a technically solid, in-house movement with a vertical clutch and column wheel.

I would only change two things about the watch. One is the thickness, which at almost 14 mm is substantial. The current movement doesn’t allow for a thinner case so it’s not a practical wish, however, a new Glassbox with the next-generation in-house calibre would arguably be perfect in terms of dimensions. The other is the lug measurement, which at 20.5 mm is just weird and inconvenient.

More than a reissue

Heuer launched the Carrera in 1963. Jack Heuer concocted the design himself and named it after the Carrera Panamericana, a legendary race across Mexico that only ran for four consecutive years before being cancelled due to the high casualty rate.

For the 60th anniversary of the Carrera in 2023, TAG Heuer presented the Glassbox, a departure from prior Carrera models that were mostly remakes. The Glassbox, on the other hand, was vintage-inspired but not a replica. The model gets its name from a highly domed sapphire crystal standing high above the bezel-less case. The crystal was meant to be reminiscent of the domed acrylic crystals found on vintage Carreras.

An example of the Carrera ref. 3147N “Dato 45” with the Indy 500 emblem at six. Image – Phillips

In a similar vein, the Dato takes its cues from a vintage model but reworks the design. It is modelled on Carrera Dato ref. 3147, a desirable vintage model from 1968. The modern-day Dato borrows heavily from the original – it has the same single sub-dial and nine o’clock date – but it isn’t merely a reissue. That’s because the Glassbox design gives the watch a distinctly different aesthetic thanks to the characteristic bowl-shaped dial and domed crystal, as well as a reworked case with shorter lugs for better ergonomics.

“Carrera” is printed in serif font like on the vintage originals, revealing the attention to detail in the design

Details in design

The Glassbox design works well on the wrist. Because of the compact lugs, attention is immediately drawn to the dial, which further stands out with its raised, concave flange under the domed crystal. On the Dato, the dial stands out even more thanks to the slightly raised minute register and date frame, both of which add depth to the dial.

The surface finishing on the dial also plays a key role in the appeal. The dial has an obvious concentric brushed finish, which is echoed by the concentric stamping on the register. This further complements the sloping flange around the dial. Although other Glassbox models have similar concentric brushing, the pattern here is more obvious due to the green finish.

Notably, the date is a key design element on the Dato, while in many watches it feels like an afterthought. The date serves to balance the minute register. At the same time, the date is unusually legible for a chronograph, since there is little else on the dial.

The domed crystal highlights the sloped flange around the dial. On the Dato, this concave ring is clean, since the seconds scale is on the outer flange that sits next to the crystal. On the standard Glassbox, both flanges are printed with scales, giving the dial a busy, instrument-like look. The unmarked flange, along with the relatively sparse dial, is primarily why the Dato has the feel of a dress chronograph since it gives the watch a restrained appearance.

The raised flange around the dial works in tandem with the bezel-less case and crystal. Together, they present an optical illusion of sorts that makes the dial look bigger than it is.

Another contributing factor to that is the relatively short lugs. Though they have the same facetted design as the vintage original, the lugs are comparatively shorter in terms of the overall case size. As a result, the watch wears just right on my 6.5″ wrist. It’s not too big or too small, thanks to the compact 46 mm lug-to-lug length.

Though it is somewhat thick at 13.86 mm, partly due to the crystal, it does not feel thick at all on the wrist, which is also due to the crystal.  the domed crystal is not too tangible on the wrist, which helps to camouflage the height.

Another notable feature of the case is the large “pump” pushers. Seemingly oversized and definitely functional, the pushers stand out prominently from the case, adding a dose of sportiness to what would otherwise have been a dressy chronograph.

The only real complaint I have about the watch is the odd 20.5 mm lugs. Nearly all watches have lugs with lugs measurements in round number, and often in even numbers like 20 mm, so the 20.5 mm lugs are inconvenient since they limit the strap options for the watch. As a result, replacing the stock strap (which is bland) with something more interesting calls for a custom strap, which can be pricey.

Admittedly, the 20.5 mm lugs might have been selected due to the overall proportions, but I imagine some adjustments can be made to the design to retain the look while having conventional lug spacing.

Below the see-through case back is the TH20-07. The brand’s workhorse in-house calibre, the TH20 is undoubtedly an excellent movement in its price point. It has the key features of a high quality, mid-range chronograph calibre, namely a column wheel, vertical clutch, and long power reserve of 80 hours. That said, the TH20 is quite a thick movement, which explains part of the height of the overall watch.

It is also an industrial movement, so visually it’s ordinary, though effort was made to dress up the calibre. The bridges are adorned with striping, while the rotor has been open-worked to form the brand’s shield emblem.

Concluding Thoughts

The Carrera Dato is a pleasing, unusual design and also a good value proposition. Though vintage inspiration, it doesn’t feel derivative. All of the key elements of the Glassbox, namely the dial flange, case, and crystal, combine with the concise dial layout to create a uniquely modern aesthetic. And the clean aesthetic also gives it a more dressy feel than the standard Glassbox chronographs, making it a compelling alternative for someone seeking a chronograph that looks less like an instrument.

That said, I hope the awkward 20.5 mm lugs will be fixed in future generations of the model. And I hope the next in-house calibre will be slimmer, resulting in a thinner Glassbox.

Key facts and price

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph “Dato”
Ref. CBS2211.FC6545

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 13.86 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: TH20-07
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date and chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 80 hours

Strap: Alligator strap with folding clasp

Limited edition: No
Availability: Now at TAG Heuer boutiques, retailers and
Price: US$6,550

For more information, visit


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Tissot Revives the PR516 Chronograph with a Hand-Wind Movement

A facelift of the 1968 original.

Tissot has enjoyed a streak of appealingly affordable vintage-inspired models ranging from the PRX Digital to the distinctive Sideral. Now, the brand has turned to a sports chronograph from the archives, the PR516 Chronograph. Drawing inspiration from the 1968 model, the PR516 has been given an update with a larger case, sapphire-covered bezel, and a manual-wind Valjoux movement.

Initial thoughts 

Like the Heuer Carrera and Rolex Daytona, the PR516 Chronograph is a motorsports racing chronograph of the 1960s and 1970s. But unlike its famous, and perhaps iconic, counterparts, the PR516 is hardly known. Despite being under the radar, the original does have a recognisable and appealing 1970s style. That’s been reworked slightly to transform it into the new PR516.

The watch isn’t a replica of the original, because it has modern dimensions. In fact, it is chunky and quite thick, dimensions arguably suitable for a modern sports watch. The dial has also been tweaked slightly and now has less text, while the registers are cleaner. For now, the new dial is available only in the same colour as the original, black, though variants are likely if this sells well.

With a price tag of US$1,850, the PR516 Chronograph is a value proposition. This is apparent when it’s compared with offerings from micro-brands like as Farer and Excelsior Park, which rely on comparable movements (typically Sellita) but cost a third more.

A modern facelift

The PR516 is the latest addition to Tissot’s longstanding PR collection, short for “particularly robust”. The PR line started with the PR 516 of 1965, a time-and-date model that was 16th model in the brand’s fifth water-resistant range of watches.

In 1968, the brand introduced a chronograph version of the PR 516. Sporting a design typical of the era, it featured a three-register black dial with blocky hands and indices along with accents in blue and red. It was powered by the Lemania 873, a relative of the calibre famous for being in the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. 

An example of the PR 516 Chronograph from 1970. Image – Tissot Museum

The new PR516 preserves the design of the original with modest improvements. The brand’s logo and model name have been replaced with the current insignia, resulting in a cleaner appearance. The white rings on the registers have been replaced with raised metallic-finish silver border, while the coloured accents have been preserved. However, orange is now employed for the hands instead of red.

The brushed steel case features pump-style pushers, a screw-down crown, and a bezel with both tachymetric and pulsometric scales under a sapphire crystal insert. Super Luminova is applied to the bezel markings as well as the baton-shaped hour indices and hands.

Measuring 41 mm wide and 13.7 mm high, the PR516 has modern dimensions that are noticeably larger than the original, which was just 36 mm across.

Visible through the sapphire back is the A05.291, a manually-wound movement based on the Valjoux 7753. That in turn is essentially a Valjoux 7750 with the automatic winding mechanism removed. It’s an industrial calibre with decoration, but the no-frills aesthetics suits the style and price of the watch.

Enhanced by a magnetism-resistant Nivachron hairspring and an adjustable-mass balance wheel, the A05.291 has a power reserve of 68 hours, compared to about 48 hours for the stock 7753.

Key facts and price

Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical
Ref. T149.459.21.051.00

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 13.7 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Valjoux A05.291
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Manual wing
Power reserve: 68 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet with folding clasp

Availability: At Tissot boutiques and retailers
Price: US$1,850, or 2,620 Singapore dollars

For more, visit


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