After the successful launch of the TAG Heuer Calibre 1887 automatic chronograph movement in 2009, the pioneering Swiss brand now adds a second movement to its ever-expanding industrial capacity: the TAG Heuer Calibre 1969.
In 1969, Jack Heuer and his partners unveiled the Calibre 11, the world’s first automatic chronograph movement, which he housed in the now-legendary square-shaped Monaco.
The groundbreaking movement and its successors –Calibres 12, 14 and 15 – are among the most innovative in the pioneering Swiss brand’s history, and continue to inspire TAG Heuer designers, engineers and artisans to this day.
Of course, by 1969, the company, which opened its first workshop in 1860, had already well established its credentials, especially in the realm of high-end chronographs. Jack Heuer’s great grandfather, Edouard Heuer, patented his first chronograph in 1882, and in 1887 patented the ‘oscillating pinion’ still used by major watchmakers of mechanical chronographs. In 1914, Heuer launched its first wrist chronograph; two years later, it stunned the racing world with a 1/100th-of-a-second stopwatch.
This incessant drive to carve time down into its tiniest and most precise fractions continues: in 2012, the TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrogirder, the only mechanical chronograph precise to 5/10,000th second, equipped with a never-before-seen regulating system made of micro blades and beating at an incredible 1,000Hz, won the Aiguille d’Or in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, watchmaking’s most prestigious award.
To strengthen its lock on the chronograph crown, TAG Heuer launched an in-house manufactured movement, the Calibre 1887, in 2009. The integrated column-wheel automatic chronograph movement is a tribute to Edouard and Jack Heuer’s historic contributions to Swiss watchmaking: it is outfitted with an audaciously re-engineered version of the brand’s 1887-patented oscillating pinion; and it is housed in a new generation of the Carrera, the legendary sports chronograph first launched by Jack Heuer in 1964.
The innovative movement took five years and approximately 20 million Swiss Francs to develop. To produce it in the volume TAG Heuer’s accelerating growth requires, a dedicated workshop had to be constructed at TAG Heuer’s facilities in La Chaux-de-Fonds (Neuchâtel).
The first Calibre 1887 rolled off the workshop’s semi-automatic assembly line in 2010, and won the coveted “Petite Aiguile d’Or” Award at that year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. To date, 130,000 have been produced.
Now TAG Heuer is taking the next step by industrializing a second in-house manufacture movement, thus doubling its movement manufacturing capacity and making it the number one chronograph movement manufacturer among watch brands in Switzerland.
The new integrated mechanical movement is being produced at the just finished fourth TAG Heuer Manufacture in Chevenez in the Swiss Jura. Total expenditure for the new project: another 20 million Swiss Francs. Total volume: 500 in 2013, 5,000 in 2014.
From blank slate to full production in two years: an impressive achievement, on par with the that of Jack Heuer and his Calibre 11 team back in 1969 -which is why the brand has chosen to call this latest creation the TAG Heuer Calibre 1969.
The high quality of the manufactured movement is the direct result of key lessons learned in the design and production of TAG Heuer’s Calibre 1887 and award-winning “haute horlogerie” movements.
A benchmark of prestige chronograph design, the vertical-clutch system is exceptionally powerful and precise: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz), with an extended 70 hour power reserve and a difference of time adjustment after 24 hours of minus 4 to 6 seconds. The very thin movement (6.5mm) houses 200 Swiss components. The assortment is a Swiss ATOKALPA, as is the four-spoked balance, which is KIF auto-shock adjusted.
The dial’s counter layout, like the original Calibre 11, is classic “tri-compax”: central chronograph hand with chronograph minutes at 3 o’clock, chronograph hour at 9 o’clock and small second at 6 o’clock. The caliber 1969 also features a date window at 9 o’clock.
The decoration is equally outstanding, with “Côte de Genève” and snailing on the black tungsten oscillating weight and the minute and automatic bridges, which are nickel plated and angle polished, with shiny beveled edges. The bridges, plates and ébauches are all produced at Chevenez.
In conclusion, this new movement better combines maximum thinness with a larger power reserve and a significant volume potential.
By adding the Calibre 1887 and the Calibre 1969 to its manufacturing capacity, TAG Heuer’s growth and continued leadership in chronographs is fully assured. Production volume of the two innovative movements will surpass 50,000 units in 2013 and reach a projected target capacity of 100,000 by 2016.
This makes TAG Heuer the biggest industrial chronograph producer among all Swiss watch brands, and one of the very few Swiss Manufactures capable of producing all of its own major components -not just movements but dials and cases.
A pioneering force for more than 150 years, TAG Heuer has always been at the forefront of innovation in technology and design. The TAG Heuer Calibres 1887 and 1969 make it abundantly clear that it has no intention of being anywhere else.