You thought that TAG Heuer was only about to do normal watches, with a more entry-level objective – and we thought that too, especially after what we told you here. Well, it seems that it’s not going to be the case and that concept watches, even if rare, are still part of the new strategy implemented by Mister Biver. As a proof, TAG Heuer will launch a new limited and exclusive watch, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Mikrograph, the first stopwatch able to time events to the 1/100th of a second. Here is the highly desirable 2016 TAG Heuer Mikrograph 100th Anniversary, the TAG that goes vintage and fast, and still to the 1/100th of a second.
The 1916 Heuer Mikrograph Stopwatch
Back 100 years ago, Heuer was definitely one major player in timing sports events. Their stopwatches were known all over the world as precise and reliable. Of course they had to be… Remember that at that time, the trust in official results and timing of sports events was based and based only on stopwatches and the referees handling them. However, in order to give more accurate results and to avoid reclamations, the need for watches able to time closer from the reality was huge. In 1916, Heuer introduced the Mikrograph, the first stopwatch able to time events to the closest 1/100th of a second – consider this as a revolution in timekeeping… This watch, based on movements by Valjoux and Minerva, was so precise that it led Heuer to be appointed the official timekeeper of the 1920, 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games.
The 2011 TAG Heuer Mikrograph
In recent years, TAG Heuer had an interesting focus, which gave echo to what was actually the roots of the company: fast beating chronographs to precisely time sports events. This specific collection of concept wristwatches (of course, stopwatches were not needed since decades ago’s) led to pieces like the 2012 Mikrotimer (precise to the 1/1000th of a second), followed by the Mikrogirder 2000 and the Carrera Mikrogirder 10000, both featuring a unique Chronograph movement that vibrates at 7.2 million beats per hour and thus, precise to the 5/10,000th of a second – where the oscillator is not a balance wheel / hairspring construction anymore, but a vibrating blade instead. TAG Heuer even launched a tourbillon chronograph able to time to the 1/100th of a second, the Mikrotourbillon.
However, the first of this series of super-fast-beating watches was the MiKrograph – as a reference to the 1916 stopwatch. This watch, based on a traditional Carrera case, in gold, featured a movement capable of timing events to the closest 1/100th of a second – which is already extremely precise, as the Zenith El Primero Striking 10th, a watch that all considered as high-beat, can time to the nearest 1/10th of a second. Based on the same movement – that we thought to be out of the collection for ever – TAG Heuer introduces now a new edition, with a vintage-inspired look, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Mikrograph.
The 2016 TAG Heuer Mikrograph 100th Anniversary
While the new creations of TAG Heuer, including the Carrera Calibre 01 or the Chronograph Tourbillon Calibre 02T, are not exactly what we expect from the brand, this watch certainly creates some emotions here, at Monochrome-Watches headquarters. It has a lot to please us: a vintage-inspired look, great heritage and a very interesting movement, in-house produced and kind of unique in the actual Swiss production.
This new TAG Heuer Mikrograph 100th Anniversary is not that different technically from the previous Mikrograph, however the visual side is entirely renewed. While the 2011 Mikrograph was based on a traditional architecture, with a normal Carrera case and pushers on the right side of the case, this 2016 vintage edition is constructed like a stopwatch encased in a module to be worn on the wrist. Even if some Carrera watches and the Mikrotimer and Mikrogirder had a similar look, the case was actually fixed. Here, you can use the Mikrograph as a wristwatch or as a stopwatch. Then, this watch is a so-called “bullhead” chronograph, with pushers and crown placed at 12, a position that can be seen as odd at first but that makes the use of the chronograph extremely instinctive.
The 45mm case of the TAG Heuer Mikrograph 100th Anniversary is no more gold but stainless steel and the crown is referring to the one found in the 1916 Mikrograph, with an opinion design. Same goes for the pushers that clearly play on the vintage inspiration. Considering the new position of the crown and pushers, the movement has been rotated 90 degrees, which of course influence the display. The 2016 TAG Heuer Mikrograph indicates the time (this is not a detail… the first Mikrograph was just a stopwatch, with no display of the time), a power reserve at 9, a 30-minute counter at 12, a 60-second chronograph at 3 (acting like the central second hand in a normal chronograph) and finally, a 1/100th of a second indication on the central axis.
The look of this dial is clearly paying tribute to the 1916 stopwatch, with its milky white plate, on which black numerals with an antique font are printed, pointed by also antique blued hands. Logos are also faithful to the original one. Our only concern is the date indication, at 4, which seems rather unfounded in this vintage-inspired context. This slight disappointment apart, the overall look of this TAG Heuer Mikrograph 100th Anniversary is extremely pleasing.
To power this new edition, TAG Heuer still relies on its Mikrograph movement, an in-house engine, with highly technical construction. This movement was the first automatic chronograph capable of the 1/100th of a second. To achieve this prowess, TAG Heuer relies on a twin-balance-wheel architecture. The first one, classically beating at 4Hz / 28,800 beats per hour, regulates the display of the time. The second one, beating at 100Hz / 360,000 beats per hour, is only alive when the chronograph is actuated and thus, it regulates the timing functions. This movement features 2 barrels, each providing energy to one balance wheel – power reserve is 42 hours for the watch (time only) and 90-minutes for chronograph function. It is COSC certified.
This 2016 TAG Heuer Mikrograph 100th Anniversary will be limited to 100 pieces and should be in stores in September. The best news comes from its price. While the 2011 Mikrograph was about $50,000, this new edition is less than half the price, as being $21,000. Not cheap for sure but much more accessible, especially considering the unique technical content.