TAG Heuer’s most ambitious luxury chronograph to date, the MikrotourbillonS is not only the world’s fastest tourbillon: it is the first ever tourbillon on a 1/100th of a second chronograph that can be started and stopped, an audacious timepiece of peerless precision and virtuosic savoir-faire.
Even by TAG Heuer’s own pioneering metrics, the dual-chain, double-barreled MIKROTOURBILLONS, is entirely off-the-chart extraordinary. The first tourbillon chronograph capable of certification-level precision timing, it is by far the fastest, most accurate and most breathtakingly beautiful tourbillon ever imagined.
A tourbillon (French for ‘vortex’ or ‘whirlwind’) is the most intricate and iconic complication in haute horlogerie. An elaborate mechanical system for regulating the speed at which a watch ‘beats’, this ingenious complication overcomes the effects of gravity by placing the movement’s balance wheel and escapement inside a rotating cage. Revolutionary when it was invented in 1801, modern precision techniques, many developed by TAG Heuer, have made it obsolete. Yet the tourbillon remains a classic ‘novelty’ feature of many high-end luxury watches because, in its ornate complexity, usually visible through a window in the dial, it is the ultimate attention getter—a showcase of watchmaker virtuosity.
Beautifully complex, but slow,imprecise and unnecessary: for these reasons, TAG Heuer, the most precision-driven, performance-obsessed of all the high-end luxury Swiss watch houses, had never made a tourbillon escapement watch.
That is, until TAG Heuer’s Science & Engineering department, in its pursuit of zero-tolerance chronograph precision, took up the challenge of reinventing the tourbillon, making it not just a delight to look at but, like all TAG Heuer creations, unbelievably fast, precise, and avant-garde. The result is a mechanical wonder that breaks all records for speed and accuracy, and sets the stage for the first-ever dual-certifiable chronograph.
The MIKROTOURBILLONS has two rotating tourbillon mechanisms visible on its dial face, one for time telling and one for timekeeping. The first beats at 4 hertz — 28,800 beats per hour — and controls the ISO 3159 compliant watch; its hand sweeps the dial at a standard tourbillon speed of once a minute. The second, the world’s fastest tourbillon, controls the 1/100th-of-a-second chronograph and is dynamically compensated to run at 50 hertz, meaning it beats at 360,000 beats per hour and rotates at a dizzying five seconds per revolution, or 12 times a minute. Another mind-numbing technical prowess: it has no cage and can be started and stopped thanks to the dual chain architecture.
Since 1969, the year TAG Heuer launched the world’s first automatic chronograph movement, coupling watch movement with chronograph function has become standard operation procedure. There is a serious “hitch”, however, with this isochronous system: its wheel chain gear system increases energy loss.
This is one of the greatest quandaries of chronograph design — how to keep chronograph operation from disrupting watch operation.
A first avenue of research led to the TAG Heuer Calibre 360 in March 2005 with its additional module for the chronograph. Then the answer came with the TAG Heuer Mikrograph 1/100th of a second Chronograph in January 2011, ingeniously outfitted with two independent kinematic chains — one for the watch and one for the chronograph, integrated in the same movement.
The MIKROTOURBILLONS is built with the same integrated movement with dual chain architecture, thereby eliminating the need for a clutch. Separating the watch chain from the chronograph chain eliminates the risks of the chronograph influencing the watch and vice-versa; but most importantly, it reduces energy loss and optimizes the precision of the chronograph’s regulating organ. This dual chain architecture allows the all “MIKRO” timepieces (MIKROTOURBILLONS, MIKROGIRDER, MIKROTIMER and MIKROGRAPH) to be ISO 3159 compliant across the board. The MIKROTIMER and the MIKROGRAPH are already COSC certified — i.e. with the chronograph function running, a feat virtually impossible to achieve by conventional mono-frequency chronographs.
Total diameter: 35.8 mm (15 3/4’’’)
Total height: 9.79mm
-28’800 vibrations per hour/ 4 hertz (watch) / 1 tourbillon rotation every minute
-360’000 vibrations per hour/ 50 hertz (chronograph) / 1 tourbillon rotation every 5 seconds
-Watch: 45 hours
-Chronograph: 60 minutes
Properties of display
-Central hand 1/100th of a second chronograph
-Chronograph minute at 3 o’clock
-Chronograph second and 1/10th of a second at 6 o’clock
-Power reserve at 12 o’clock
-1/100th second chronograph function
-Automatic bi-directional rewinding movement
Anthracite dial with côte de genève finishings featuring 2 counters
Chronograph minutes counter at 3 o’clock
Chronograph second counter at 6 o’clock
Chronograph power reserve percentage indicator at 12 o’clock
Two tourbillons visible from the front with solid rose gold (18k 5n) bridges
White Arabic numerals and hand applied solid rose gold (18k 5n) “100” at 12 o’clock
Polished anthracite hour and minute hands with luminescent markers
Solid rose gold (18k 5n) central 1/100th of a second chronograph hand
Solid rose gold (18k 5n) chronograph hands (minute at 3 o’clock and second at 6 o’clock), and power reserve hand at 12 o’clock.
Hand applied solid rose gold (18k 5n) tag heuer logo
White mikrotourbillons lettering
1/100th scale on the anthracite flange
Case diameter: 45mm
Bi-material case: sandblasted tantalum & solid rose gold (18k 5n)
Double antireflective curved sapphire crystal
Solid rose gold (18k 5n) push buttons
Solid rose gold (18k 5n) crown with overmolded rubber
Solid rose gold (18k 5n) horns
Sandblasted tantalum sapphire case back
Water-resistance: 100 meters
Hand-sewn anthracite high-tech soft touch alligator strap
Tantalum folding clasp with applied tag heuer logo