A look at the TAG Heuer Calibre 17
A few weeks ago we brought you the first in a new series of in-depth articles about the key mechanical movements found in TAG Heuer watches. Today, we look at a mechanical chronograph movement used broadly across the modern range- the Calibre 17. The Calibre 17 is an ETA 2894, and is closely related to other TAG Heuer movements, including the Calibre 7, Calibre 11, Calibre 12 and the Calibre 360.
The Calibre 17 is an example of what is known as a “modular” (or “Piggyback”) movement, where a complication “module” is added to a base time-only movement. This allows different complications (chronograph, power-reserve, moon-phase) to be developed from the same base, offering greater efficiency and flexibility than an integrated chronograph- a generalist rather than a specialist if you will.
An easy way of telling whether your watch uses an integrated or modular chronograph movement is to look at the chronograph pushers and the crown. If they are aligned, then it’s likely to be an integrated chronograph, such as the Calibre 1887 (below).
The prevailing view among many collectors is that- generally- an integrated chronograph is the preferred construction. It is often argued that an integrated chronograph was designed specifically for that purpose, whereas a modular movement is something of a hybrid. There are several examples of famous movements with both types of construction- the Chronomatic Heuer movement is a modular movement, while the Zenith El Primero (Calibre 36) is integrated.
But is integrated really any better, or this just a watch snob myth? We’ll come to answer this shortly…
TAG Heuer Calibre 17 Models
The ETA 2894 was released in 1996 and appeared in the TAG Heuer range that same year. The Calibre 17 is available in two variants- a two register chronograph (ETA 2894, running second at 3 o’clock; 30 minute chronograph register at 9 o’clock; date window at 6 o’clock), such as the Carrera Jack Heuer 80 (above), or a three register Chronograph (ETA 2894-2) that adds a 12-hour register at 6 o’clock (see the Monaco re-edition below).
- 6000 Automatic Chronograph
- Carrera 39mm Chronograph
- Carrera 40th Anniversary
- Carrera Jack Heuer 80th Birthday
- Grand Carrera Calibre 17
- Kirium Automatic Chronograph
- “Heuer” Monaco Re-edition (CS2111)
- Monaco Calibre 17
- Monza (2000)
- SLR Chronograph
- Targa Florio
TAG Heuer have reduced the number of Calibre 17 models recently, with the 2012 Carrera Jack Heuer being the first new Calibre 17 model since the launch of the Grand Carrera in 2008.
Base Module: ETA 2892
While the ETA 2894 may “only” be 17 years old, its origins stretch back a lot further. The base of the 2894 is the ETA 2892, which TAG Heuer call the Calibre 7. The 2892 was launched in 1975 and is a development of the family of Eterna movements that go back to the late 1940s. One of the features of the 2892 is its slim (3.6mm) profile, which makes it perfect for adding additional modules.
A revised model- the ETA 2892A2 followed in 1983 in the early days of what we now know as Swatch Group. The movement is used by many watch brands, including Omega’s Calibre 2500, which was the first Omega movement to boast the co-axial escapement.
The Family Tree
The Calibre 17 is not the only TAG Heuer movement to use the Calibre 7 base. The Calibre 360 from 2005 is a TAG Heuer developed Chronograph module mounted on the 2892A2 (as you can see in the photo above- “2892A2″ is engraved on the movement above around the 2 o’clock position).