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First Look: TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum

Three years after TAG Heuer unveiled the radical Grand Carrera Pendulum, the innovative magnetic movement is back- this time powering a Chronograph. Seeing a second development of the Pendulum concept is exciting enough, but the amazing news is that this is no longer a concept- the Pendulum is ready for production.

The TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum is yet another evolution of the Mikro platform- a family of movements quickly gaining a reputation as some of the most radical and innovative calibres offered by any watchmaker.

History of the TAG Heuer Pendulum

TH_Pendulum_1_HDThe Grand Carrera Pendulum (below) Concept was unveiled at the 2010 Basel show and caused a sensation. For the first time, a mechanical watch movement did away entirely with a hairspring and instead regulated time through the use of magnets.
th_pendulum_angledThe original Pendulum movement powered a watch- unusually for TAG Heuer, not a Chronograph- beating at 43,200 b.p.h (6hz) and featuring a running seconds sub-dial at 5 o’clock. Dominating the dial at 7 o’clock was the Pendulum window.

th_pendulum_frontWhile the Pendulum was a major break-through in watchmaking, there was a problem- the movement was not reliable enough to make it into production. The main issue was that the force of the magnets- and therefore the rate of oscillation- varied with temperature, clearly a problem, as there’s not much point to a watch that only works in Summer.

th_pendulum_rear18 months ago- long after most people had dismissed the movement as a being impossible to commercialise-  we exclusively spoke with TAG Heuer CEO about the Pendulum movement. As Jean Christophe Babin told us:

When it comes to the Pendulum, the main challenge is getting the movement to perform reliably in a variety of temperatures, so right now we are still in the phase of assessing how to do this. It’s no longer a question of watch-making expertise, so we have outside scientists working to solve the issue. At stable temperature, we have developed the concept to be extremely accurate”.

This was the first news that the Pendulum project was still active, something of a surprise. As we noted:

“While the Grand Carrera Pendulum wasn’t a Chronograph, there is a good chance that any future versions of the movement will include a Chronograph function, because TAG Heuer have been testing the watch at a frequency of 50 Hertz (the original concept was 6hz/ 43,200 beats/ hour), the same frequency as the Mikrograph 100 (360,000 beats per hour- ten times faster that the Calibre 36/ El Primero). These tests show that the accuracy of the watch improves at the higher frequency.

So could we see a Mikrograph Pendulum? It’s certainly possible, even if only as a concept watch.”

And so three years after the first Grand Carrera Pendulum and 18 months after we found out that TAG Heuer was working on a high-frequency development of the Pendulum concept, we arrive at the 2013 Carrera Mikropendulum- a watch that adds the Pendulum to the Mikro platform to deliver 1/ 100th second precision.

Movement

TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum_WHITE_A3_300DPI - Version 3Like all movements built on the Mikro platform, the MikroPendulum is a dual chain architecture, with independent barrels for the watch and the Chronograph.

The new movement is 100% in-house TAG Heuer designed and built (once again from the genius of Guy Semon and his team) and has 371 components and 58 Jewels. Let’s look at each of the chains:

  • Watch: Powered by a traditional balance wheel and vibrates at 28,800 beats per hour- basically the same as a Calibre 16. The watch is COSC certified
  • Chronograph: The Pendulum system- a magnetic oscillator-  provides the regulation for the movement and vibrates at 360,000 beats per hour- 10 times the frequency of the Calibre 36 (El Primer0) and the same frequency as the Calibre 360, Mikrograph and Mikrotourbillon.

bridge fine black 11Above is a design sketch of the bridge that sits on the dial and holds the balance wheel in place. Its a beautifully crafted addition to the dial.

The MikroPendulum offers a power reserve of 42 hours for the watch and 90 minutes for the Chronograph.

It’s almost an after-though to add that the new movement records to a precision of 1/ 100th second. Such has been the progress that TAG Heuer has made in chronograph precision over the last two years (1/ 100th, 1/ 1000th and finally 5/ 10,000th) that we almost expect a haute horlogerie TAG Heuer to be capable of timing to at least 1/ 100th second.

Case

side fine black 12The MikroPendulum uses the traditional Carrera case, with the “girder” design on the side of the case and the lugs, a look that we first saw on the 2011 Mikrotimer.

The watch has a 45mm case made from Grade 5 Titanium, with a combination of sand-blasted, brushed and polished surfaces. Likewise, the two Chronograph pushers are also made from titanium, as is the crown that features an overmolded rubber section in the centre.

TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum_WHITE_A3_300DPI - Version 2The caseback- of which there are no photos yet- is clear sapphire and sure to offer a great view of the new movement.

Dial

front cad black 08Anthracite continues to be TAG Heuer’s favourite colour for dials, with the MikroPendulum featuring a two-part dial- one part with a brushed finish, and the stepping down to a Cotes de Geneve pattern.

TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum_A4_300DPIThe dial lay-out is as follows:

  • 12 o’clock: Chronograph power reserve
  • 3 o’clock: Chronograph minutes
  • 6 o’clock: Chronograph seconds

The central red hand flies around the dial once every second, with the 1/ 100th fraction being read from the scale on the inner bezel.

 The Babin Legacy

evolution front black 02If you evaluate a leaders legacy by examining whether they leave their company in a better state than when they first arrived, then Jean-Christophe Babin’s contribution to the 153-year history of TAG Heuer is profound.

Remember that when Babin arrived, TAG Heuer had not made a movement in 20 years and had lost its reputation as a true watchmaker.

When TAG Heuer launched the Monaco in V4 Concept in 2004, the critics dismissed the movement as a folly that would never work- after five years of further development, TAG Heuer delivered the production model in 2009.

The reaction to the Pendulum concept- a vanity project to create headlines, but one that would never make it to production. Again, TAG Heuer has delivered.

In fact, despite producing some of the most radical concept watches over the last 13 years, every one of them has made it into production in one form or another- V4, Mikrograph, Mikrotimer, Pendulum, MikrotourbillonS and now the Pendulum oscillator. Which other watch brand has pushed the boundaries of movement innovation further? Anyone?

Pricing and Availability

TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum_BLACK_A4_300DPIAt this stage, we don’t have confirmed pricing (although expect at least CHF35,000) or a release date. We’ll update you as soon as news comes to hand.

Lastly, it’s important to get the name of this watch right- Mikropendulum. In the next hour or so you’ll see why, because the Carrera MikroPendulum is not the only surprise that TAG Heuer has lined up for Basel 2013.

Live Photos

038Paul Boutros, a Senior Moderator over at Timezone.com took these great shots and kindly agreed to share them with us- thanks Paul!

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Video

Our friends at The Watch Gallery took this cool video of the MikroPendulum at Basel

50 Years of Carrera

The TAG Heuer Carrera MikroPendulum is part of the 50th anniversary range of TAG Heuer’s most famous model- the Carrera. Click on the image below to learn all about the history of the Carrera and see the entire 2013 Carrera range.

50 Years Carrera

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Check out all of the Baselworld 2013 releases from TAG Heuer at our dedicated page here 

 

  • Mark

    Was on the money with that guess. Could never afford one but hopefully will get my hands on one for a look. Hope this will become mainstream in the near future!

  • DM

    The more they work with the design language of these Mikro watches, the better they get at it, with this one being the best in my eyes of the lot.

    Some of that could be because of the more standard style of case as opposed to the bullhead configuration but and actual production nature of it but in general, the proportion of the dial elements work best here too.

    I'd have to see that new style rehaut with a chapter ring on the top surface and numerals on the angle in the metal to get a better idea of how it looks in reality. Right now, looking at renderings, I have to say that I think I would prefer more pronounced hour markers to make it as much a regular watch as it is a chronograph.

    One thing though which is so far, all of the new Haute Horology watches have been 43mm and larger. Being of small wrists myself, I would love for these to appear in more regular 41mm versions too.

  • I'm pleased that they did this one in a normal case rather than another Bullhead- I like the Bullhead, but it loses some of its uniqueness if there are too many models with that style.

    Yes, they are a little large for me too. I'd like to see a toned down version of this watch (in a more classical carrera style) in a 41mm case…maybe next time?

    dc

  • DM

    I know they are just rendering so may not be 100% reliable bit it does look like they've made the lugs/horns shorter than they have been on previous models.

    Guess we will have to wait to see the real watch to find out. It's only 2mm on the watch case but those 2mm makes the Mikrograph longer lug to lug than my wrist is wide. If it were 41mm, it could well be my "One Watch".

  • I reckon they are shorter. They look to be screwed onto the case as per the Mikrotimer rather than being a one-piece case.

    DM, check out the live photos…

    dc