TH_MANUFACTURE_CHEVENEZ

TAG Heuer: Chevenez & the Calibre 1969

Only a few months after the plans were first announced, construction has started at TAG Heuer’s new factory in Chevenez in the Jura Valley. The build for the 2,400 square- metre facility will last about 18 months and eventually employ more than 150 people.

The headline news that you may have read is that TAG Heuer will transfer production of the Calibre 1887 from Cornol to Chevenez– but that is only half the story.

The real news is that TAG Heuer will also manufacture a new in-house movement at Chevenez, the details of which have been kept under wraps until now. The movement was developed under the code-name “Calibre 1888”, but will be known as the Calibre 1969. So let’s take a closer look at Chevenez, the Calibre 1969…and find out exactly what TAG Heuer’s CEO is wearing on his wrist.

New Chevenez Factory

Chevenez is a small village about an hour north of TAG Heuer HQ in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In early May, the new site was commemorated by TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Christophe Babin in front of a range of dignitaries, including Jack Heuer, the President of the Swiss Watch Making Federation, the local Mayor and Government Minister.

A Calibre 1887 movement encased in perspex marks the entrance of the new site.

Transferring production of the Calibre 1887 to Chevenez will allow Cornol to focus on making cases in higher numbers and increase TAG Heuer’s independence in terms of cases and movements.

While the new facility is of great significance to TAG Heuer, the most exciting part of Chevenez for watch fans is not the slick new building, but what will be made there alongside the Calibre 1887- the Calibre 1969.

TAG Heuer Calibre 1969

Calibre 11 had the chance to speak exclusively to Jean-Christophe Babin about the Calibre 1969 and the latest developments in the fast-moving world of movement supply.

Calibre 11: Congratulations on the inauguration of the new site- can you tell us when construction starts? When do you expect the first movement to be produced?

Jean-Christophe Babin: We have a very stretched road-map also because the movement is 100% new, internally designed, developed, prototyped and patented. We want to present the first functional prototypes at Baselworld 2013 and start manufacturing the first finished timepieces towards the end of Q4 2013.

C11: What can you tell us about the Calibre 1969? Is the new movement based on the Mikrograph base (i.e. two barrels) or is it entirely new?

JCB: It’s entirely new, but obviously will benefit from the expertise and certain components developed with the Calibre 1887 and the Mikrograph, because we developed these two movements with a long-term vision in terms of re-usable components. Having said that, the  architecture and dimensions will be totally different.

C11: Collectors are very keen to understand the dial layout of the new movement. Is it 3-6-9 (tri-compax), 3- 6 (bi-compax) or something different?

JCB: With the 1887 we have a 6-9-12 basic layout, so with the 1969 we will have a 3-6-9 layout in order to cover 100% of the chronographs potential architectures and layout.

C11: What price points will the new movement be used? Between 1887 and Mikrograph?

JCB: No, not necessarily. Like the 1887 it’s a sophisticated integrated chronograph, but unlike the Mikrograph it’s a single frequency chronograph. Therefore, the primary purpose is not to cover different price points but rather propose all lay-outs possible within a €4,000-€8,000 price range.

For the €8,000 to €15,000 bracket, we have the Calibre 36 developed on the El Primero platform and above that price range, the Mikrograph 100 and Mikrotimer 1000.

So more than ever TAG Heuer will dominate the high-complication world of chronographs with no less than five”engines”, complemented obviously by the movements bought to partners such as Dubois-Depraz, Sellita and ETA. No other brand can offer up to seven or eight totally different mechanical movements.

C11: Have you seen reduction of supplies from Swatch/ ETA in other areas (i.e. other than Hairsprings?) Has supply of the 7750 reduced, and if so has this been replaced by Sellita SW500?

JCB: Of course. ETA say what they do and do what they say with the blessings of COMCO. So yes, this year we’ll receive 15% fewer mechanical movements than last year from ETA. Thanks to our Calibre 1887 fast ramp-up and the Sellita SW500 for which we are a major “launch customer” we have the chance to more than offset the decrease from ETA and fuel our growth consistently with our ambitious strategic targets.

Mikrotourbillon S 100 Update

Regular readers will remember the last-minute surprise TAG Heuer showed to a handful of journalists at Basel- a double Tourbillon Chronograph accurate to 1/ 100th of a second- the TAG Heuer Mikrotourbillon S 100. So, is this just a concept watch put together to grab a few headlines, or will the watch be made?

The answer can be found on Jean-Christophe’s wrist at Chevenez:

We asked Jean Christophe for an update on the development of the Mikrogirder and Mikrotourbillon:

“The Mikrotourbillon with its amazing dual semi-flying Tourbillons, including one protecting a 360,000 bph regulator and rotating six times every minute, is well under development and we’ll sell the first ones in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For the Mikrogirder we are still at a concept stage better analyzing chronometry and performance over time prior to take a “go/no-go” industrialisation decision, a process we systematically follow with all our concept watches.”

The news that the Mikrotourbillon will be made is great news for collectors, and a further endorsement of TAG Heuer’s “Mikro” dual-frequency platform. The next 12 months will be an exciting year for TAG Heuer fans, with MikrotourbillonS and the Calibre 1969 both due to be launched.

You can be sure that we’ll follow the development of the both movements closely here at Calibre 11, so stay tuned..

 

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  • Mark

    3-6-9 in the same basic case as the 1887 Carreras and work a little on getting the height of the case down, and they have a winner I think.

    The ubiquity of the Vj 7750 was never down to it being ergonomically the best layout for a chronograph, so it pains me to see other movements following suit.

    Use the new base movement to perm 3- and 2-register versions of each new model and you have ample differentiation, both in look and in price, with relatively little effort.

    Use restraint on the classic inspired watches, a bit more flamboyance on the ranges with a bit less heritage (F1, Aquaracer etc) and, with the Mikro watches sitting naturally at the top), you have a cohesive but still differentiated range.

  • Justin

    Great wrote-up as always DC.

    Tri-compax design; already keen on putting my name down for one without even hearing more regarding the movement.

    The most iconic chronographs that come to mind all feature the tri-compax layout: Breitling Navitimer, Zenith Striking 10th, Omega Speedmaster Pro Moonwatch – rocking one on my wrist now DC 😉

    TAG Heuer have recently become one of the over-achievers in the horological scene with several concept watches pushing the design envelop. TAG may soon not be the ridicule of many horological aficionados.

  • DC

    Agree with you both on the layout- its a small, (somewhat) superficial change, but an important one that gives the dial a much better balance.

    The question I forgot to ask is this: Will the crown be on the left-hand side of the case? I think this would be a wonderful touch that would really link the new movement back to the famous Chronomatic movement. Who agrees???

    Maybe we should start a petition!

    dc

  • Justin

    Amen to the left crown DC!

    To kick start it off, they should introduce the movement into the home of a Monaco case (no bias here ;)). In all seriousness, it'll probably go into a Carrera before it goes into a Monaco.

    Oddly enough, maybe they should introduce some simpler complications in different combinations:
    – GMT
    – 3~8 day power res + manual wind
    – moon phase
    – perpetual calendar

    My above suggestions may not appeal to the masses but to only a minority; but if TAG could successfully execute any of the above complications, their rightful place in the horological order will be reinstated by those whom have looked negatively upon the brand.

  • Kback

    Thank you DC!
    Wow, nice footage and very intersting as always. I am keen to see the fabric by my own when its done. Maybe on a next bike trip.

    I am really looking forward to the Mikrotourbillion next Year and especially the brand new Caliber 1888.

    It seems to me that TAG Heuer is pushing the bounderies of their innovations continuously to the next level – creating new and innovating watches for the future market and especially become more and more independent from ETA.

    Cheers
    Kback

  • Manuel de la torre

    Got my first Tag at a Golf Tournament at Walden Golf Club in Montgomery, Texas. I gave it to my son and absolutely loved it. I have had a Cartier Santos and had been wanting another Tag. Was in a cruise and my wife bought me one, now I hardly ever wear the Cartier

  • shauno

    Woohoo! The 3-6-9 is coming back :)

  • Updated with news on the final name- Calibre 1969!

  • Maciej Nejmantowicz

    Fantastic article! Keep up the great work!

  • Not long to go now….we should find out more about the Calibre 1969 in November

  • The Banker

    One more month away…before more Calibre 1969 info?

  • Even less… Keep checking back for live reports from the opening of Chevenez/ Calibre 1969 from 5-6 November