After a few years of producing technically ‘tame’ watches, TAG Heuer is back at the innovation workbench. After all, TAG means “Techniques d’Avant-Garde” and there was a time when the brand was ultra-active in the field of high-frequency. Combining watchmaking with scientific discovery, TAG Heuer introduces a state-of-the-art carbon hairspring in the latest interpretation of the Carrera. Meet the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph – and thankfully, innovation doesn’t necessarily mean insane prices.
TAG Heuer is back on track when it comes to manufacturing and innovation. After the launch of the base calibres Heuer 02 and Heuer 02T – both in-house, modern, integrated chronograph movements, with or without tourbillon – it is time for the brand to capitalize on these foundations and to offer the technical avant-garde spirit that its name implies. With the new Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph, innovation is discreet, but nevertheless impressive.
On one side there’s a watch that is familiar to us, an evolution of the well-known, affordable Carrera Tourbillon Heuer 02T. The watch is decked out with new colours and modern materials, as well as surprising patterns on the dial and movement side (justified by the technology though), but that’s not where we should focus this article. There is something more interesting going on inside the movement.
The manufacture movement Heuer 02T of this new Carrera features a carbon composite hairspring, produced from a gas, that replaces the well-known Elinvar and silicium versions. This technology, developed by the R&D team of LVMH (under the helm of Guy Semon, who also developed a new oscillator for Zenith), was first unveiled on a Zenith concept watch and now find its place in a commercial piece, and in a TAG Heuer to be precise.
The hairspring is a crucial part of the movement, being the small spring that allows the balance to swing back and forth on a regular basis. It is also one of the most complex parts to produce – see why here – and only a handful of brands do that internally. Usually crafted in dedicated alloys or in silicium, TAG Heuer/LVMH Group introduces a new technology.
TAG Heuer’s carbon composite hairspring
According to TAG Heuer, the development of this new hairspring was the result of a team composed mainly of mathematicians, physicists and chemists – not your traditional watchmaker. The hairspring’s material is said to be a nanoscopic (million times smaller than a millimetre) hexagonal pattern. Also according to TAG Heuer, these are the potential advantages of this technology:
- The lightweight, low-density hairspring is virtually unaffected by gravity and shock – watches were tested up to 5,000G/1-metre fall on a hard surface – metal hairsprings bent, silicon hairsprings broke, while the carbon composite hairspring remained completely intact
- Perfect concentric oscillations are the result of the carbon composite hairspring’s geometry and improve the precision of the watch
- The carbon composite hairspring is produced with the collet already included – usually, this small part, which attaches the metallic hairspring to the balance wheel axis, requires complicated assembly and generates further inaccuracy
- The carbon composite hairspring is completely anti-magnetic
- Optimal thermal behaviour & aeroelasticity – this have been achieved by pairing the carbon composite hairspring with a tailor-made balance wheel
TAG Heuer claims to be the exclusive manufacturer of these hairsprings, which are designed and produced in its in-house laboratory in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The new Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph
This new carbon composite hairspring is, of course, part of a watch and a Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon to be precise. This means the in-house, automatic, integrated, one-minute tourbillon, chronometer movement by TAG Heuer – known as the most affordable Swiss tourbillon on the market.
The case retains the modular 45mm case of other models, presented here in black PVD-coated titanium (central container), with a carbon bezel with tachymeter scale and lugs in the same lightweight material. The design is mostly black with several yellow accents – also found on the integrated leather strap.
On the dial side, the display and indications are the same too, with a two-register chronograph – with 30-minute and 12-hour counters – again mostly black with yellow details – including a rather cool looking balance wheel with yellow arms. Apart from its new hairspring, the tourbillon regulator is identical to the other Heuer 02T watches, with a 4Hz frequency and a flying architecture.
What’s new is the look of the dial and of the movement, which are decorated with a sandblasted and fine-brushed hexagon pattern – echoing the structure of the carbon hairspring. Overall, the design is robust and bold, in the same vein as all modern Carrera watches.
Surprisingly the implementation of this new technology has little impact on the price and this TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph will be available for around CHF 24,900 – while the TAG Heuer Carrera Carbon Tourbillon Phantom Heuer 02T with carbon case and the same complications (without the hairspring and the special decoration for the dial and the movement) is priced at CHF 21,500.
We’ll come back to this topic after the Geneva Watch Week, with more details by Guy Semon. For more information, please visit www.tagheuer.com.