December 2014 was when Jean-Claude Biver stepped in as CEO of Tag Heuer, and since then the brand has focused on offering accessible timepieces that tug at heart strings. It has been a successful formula and now, with the introduction of the Carrera Mikrograph Anniversary Edition: 1916-2016, the brand is proving that it can do haute horology while keeping its focus on value.
Before we talk about this timepiece however, lets briefly discuss the four years before Mr. Biver stepped in, since this timepiece has its origins dating back to 2011. You see the automatic calibre that’s in the 2016 Mikrograph Anniversary Edition first appeared in a piece unique for Only Watch 2011, after which it then appeared in a rose-gold limited edition timepiece, which was priced at US $50,000.
Tag Heuer followed up with an even more impressive Mikrotimer, which was capable of 1/1000th of a second, and had a dearer asking price. In fact that timepiece retailed for US $120,000 but that wasn’t the end of the haute horology story. In 2014, before Mr. Biver took over, Tag Heuer also showed off the absolutely stunning Mikropendulum Tourbillon – this was another 1/100th second timepiece but featured twin tourbillon regulators, and at $400,000, it was the most expensive timepiece that Tag Heuer ever produced. Sadly it never made it to market.
Going further back into Tag Heuer or Heuer’s history (as it was known prior to 1985), you’ll find that the brand has a rich heritage relating to precision instruments for sports. In 1916 with the original Mikrograph, Heuer became the first brand in the world to offer a 1/100 second mechanical stopwatch. This stopwatch came to be after Charles-Auguste, son of Edouard Heuer, went to his employees in 1914 and asked them to design “a counter five to 10 times more accurate than anything currently in existence”.
The first prototype of that stopwatch appeared a year later, and it did so with an oscillation and escapement system vibrating at an unprecedented 360,000 vph. Two patents for the chronograph mechanism were filed for 20-years and, at the same time, Charles-Auguste Heuer also requested development of a timepiece that could track 1/50th of a second.
All of this came together so that in 1916, the Heuer Mikrograph, Microsplit, Semikrograph and the Semicrosplit were born. These were the world’s first mechanical counters accurate to 1/100 and 1/50 of a second, and ultimately led to Heuer becoming the official supplier of chronographs to the Olympic Games in Antwerp (1920), Paris (1924) and Amsterdam (1928).
Coming back to the 2016 timepiece, while it is based on a movement designed for watches that sold for very serious money, the Carrera Mikrograph Anniversary Edition actually carries a far more accessible retail price of US $20,000. Don’t get us wrong, that is still a lot of money but if you consider the watch’s capabilities and movement, it is actually reasonably priced.
The movement is comprised of 480 parts and really is quite special because it is basically a two in one. One part of the movement is responsible for regular timekeeping, it has its own barrel and escapement and offers 42-hours of power reserve.
The other half is where the magic happens – this portion also has its own mainspring and escapement, and – like the 1916 original – the balance wheel is clocked at 360,000 vph. This part of the mechanism can run for 90-minutes, and the cool thing is that both portions of the movement are wound by the same bidirectional rotor.
One reason this incredible timepiece carries a lower asking price is because it features a 45mm stainless steel case (rather than gold). The piece itself is actually designed as a pocket watch, and with a few turns it can be unscrewed from the watch-case and grey racing strap. You then have the option of placing it into a desk holder (picture above) or even a specially designed holder for car dashboards. That’s very cool.
The piece, which only has Heuer branding on its white dial, is limited to 100 pieces, and should be hitting markets in the coming weeks. If you’re interested, and we hope you are, we recommend getting in touch with your nearest Tag Heuer boutique as soon as possible.
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