Last month we tried out one of the latest (of many) new versions of TAG Heuer’s archetypal racing watch, the Carrera Glass Box. To cut a long story short, we loved it. The blend of vintage cues and modern execution, the size and, of course, that ultra-cool glass box, it was my favourite modern Carrera. I say was because it may have just been usurped – and by a collaboration at that: the Tag Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche.
It’s not just the Carrera celebrating its 60th anniversary in style this year; Porsche too has a big milestone, the 60th birthday of the legendary 911. And while the latter has celebrated that in watch form already with Porsche Design, the mix of car-inspired elements and the Carrera Glass Box is a match made in horological heaven.
If you take a look at the concave bezel, you’ll notice that it’s not a tachymeter scale like you might be expecting. Instead, it ‘simply’ marks off minutes. The reason for the inverted commas however is because the first 10 seconds take up a whole third of the scale, with smaller and smaller gaps between them. Then it switches to five-second markers with again, ever-dwindling intervals between them.
On the surface, it has a lot in common with the previous Glass Box models. It has the same tri-compax dial, same case shape and size and the same crystal, which is curved to allow the inner bezel scale to be read from the side. All of that’s to the positive. The Chronosprint’s newness however is predominantly thanks to the movement – and the reason it’s not just been dubbed a chronograph.
The reason only makes sense when you hit the chronograph pushers: the chronograph hand starts off incredibly fast before gradually slowing as it moves around the dial. The reason is so that the Carrera Chronosprint can more easily time shorter intervals – like the 0-100km sprint of a 911, allowing more accurate time-telling in the first 10 seconds (the original Porsche 901, incidentally, managed it in 9.1 seconds).
Unlike a chronograph that runs fractions of a seconds however, it also allows you to use it as a standard 60-second chronograph. It’s a feature achieved with some savvy engineering and snailed wheels, and seeing the chronograph seconds gradually slow is fun enough to wear out the reset button.
I’m not sure if this is a complication that’s been done before. After looking into it, I can’t find a similar approach, though I’m sure in some dusty corner of a Swiss watchmaking archive there’s something. Either way, it’s inspired, and solid in specs too. As the name suggests, the TH20-08 is a tweaked version of the 2023 TH20-00, itself an update of the already excellent Heuer 02. That means an 80-hour power reserve and 4hz frequency, both great things to have, and it’s a looker, visible through the exhibition caseback.
All of that mechanical coolness is dressed in a handsomely classical combination of white and silver with red highlights. It’s very Porsche. Along with the 0-9 on the second scale marked in red (a nod to that aforementioned 9.1 seconds), the 6 o’clock running seconds includes a warning highlight at 50 seconds, a nod to 70s 911 dashboards and their recommended urban speed of 50km/h. The 9 o’clock chronograph hours has a similar vibe, with a warning marker starting from 6.8 hour in another nod to Porsche, this time the 6,800 rev limit.
They’re the details we’re used to seeing on automotive watches (we recently did a comprehensive article on the subject), but I like the specificity here. I can’t say it sets my world on fire, but a few dashes of red on a dial are never a bad thing and at least the only Porsche branding – other than ‘911’ on the strap – is on the concave inner bezel.
On the wrist, it’s just great. 42mm is about as big as I’m comfortable going, but here it has the extra visual impact of that glass box. As more and more watches opt for titanium, it’s also satisfying to have a bit of heft to it – I assume more so, if you opt instead for the gold version.
Of the two versions, I prefer the steel we have here. There’s a certain classicism to the gold, with its cream rather than white dial, but for a 70s racing watch the sportier, more practical steel just works better. It’s also way less than half the price at CHF 9,000 (£8,000) compared to the gold version’s CHF 23,000 (£20,500).
Car and watch partnerships can be hit or miss. More often than not, they’re just a standard collection watch with new, car-inspired colours. Whether they’re good looking or not, they’re hard to get excited about. The ones that actually work, the ones that stand out from the crowd of would-be petrolhead watches, are those that tie in mechanics along with the branding. The Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche does both, and well.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Tag Heuer Carrera Chronosprint x Porsche
- Ref: CBS2011.FC6529
- Case/dial: 42mm diameter, stainless steel case, grey dial
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: Tag Heuer calibre TH20-08, automatic
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 80h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
- Strap: Black leather
- Price/availability: £8,050