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First Look: TAG Heuer Mikrogirder 2000

Meet the TAG Heuer Mikrogirder 2000 Concept watch- a dual-assortment, ultra high-beat watch with a Chronograph beating at 7.2 million times every hour, meaning that the watch can time events to 5/ 10,000th of a second. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the new TAG Heuer Mikrogirder is not that TAG Heuer have put out a watch twice as fast as the Mikrotimer- it’s the fact that they’ve done it with a movement that- again- reinvents mechanical movements. The 2011 Mikrotimer had no balance wheel. The 2009 Pendulum had no hairspring. The 2012 Mikrogirder has neither.

As you’d expect, the party trick of the Mikrogirder is the flying central chronograph hand, which rotates 20 times per second- twice as fast as the Mirkotimer.

TAG Heuer talk about the movement in terms of being accurate to 5/10,000th of a second, rather than 1/ 2,000th of a second. Same thing you might say, but the claim is that for the first time it is possible to break apart the 1/ 10,000th fraction of time. Having said that, there is a large “2000” at the top of the dial and in the name, so you can see it however you prefer.

Reading the Mikrogirder

The Mikrogirder has a different dial layout to the Mikrotimer, so let’s step through the sub-dials that you see above:

  • 12 o’clock Sub-Dial: This measures Seconds. Each marker represents 3 seconds, so the hand rotates once every 90 seconds
  • 3 o’clock sub-dial: This shows seconds plus 1/10th of a second – one complete revolution of this hand is equal to three seconds
  • The Flying central hand shows time in 1/100th, 1/ 1000th and 5/10,000th of  a second

To get the timed event you have to add together the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock readings (giving you x.x seconds) and then add the reading from the flying hand. While its hard to see from the photo above, the flying hand in the photo shows 285 1/10,000th of a second…meaning that the dial above shows 0.0285 seconds (a theoretical example of course, given normal human reaction times).

Design

While the Mikrogirder at first looks similar to the 2011 Mikrotimer, look a little closer and you see a couple of distinguishing features. The first is that the watch is a “Bullhead” Chronograph, with the crown and chronograph pushers located on top of the case.

The second aspect you notice is that the case is not symmetrical, with the top part of the case rising at an angle.

I spoke with designer Christoph Behling who said that he was looking for a way to combine the look of the traditional Carrera case with the look of the vintage Heuer stop-watches. And that is why the Mikrogirder looks like a stop-watch sitting on top of a Carrera base case.

The dial has an attractive anthracite finish, with the case matched to a rubber strap similar to the one used for the Mikrotimer.

Mikrogirder Movement

The magic to this watch is the movement, and in particular the regulating system. Look at the watch from the back and it looks the same as the Mikrograph and the Mikrotimer- and indeed it uses the same layout- two barrels/ assortments: one for the Chronograph and one for the Watch.

The Chronograph beats 7.2 million times per hour- or 1,000hz.

The magic of the new regulator are three small metal beams, which you see below.

TAG Heuer explain the role of these These beams- or girders as:

“working with a linear oscillator (as against the spiral shape of the classical movement) that vibrates isochronously at a very small angle, as opposed to a traditional watch, which vibrates at an angle of up to 320 degrees.”

This two-line description hardly does justice to the new regulator, but Calibre 11 has a “physics lesson” booked tomorrow with TAG Heuer’s Head of R&D Guy Semon, so hopefully we can bring you more detail soon.

The really exciting part of the new regulator is the future possibilities that it opens. TAG Heuer believe that the Mikrotimer 1000 hits the barriers of the traditional regulation systems and that to go beyond, a totally new approach was needed. How far could the new regulator take timing? The Mikrogirder has been tested in the lab to 3,000 hertz, so it seems as though anything is possible.

What this means for power reserve and wear-and-tear of parts is not yet clear, but something we’ll explore with Mr. Semon.

The Mikrogirder in Action

Price and Availability

While the TAG Heuer Mikrogirder is still a concept watch, it seems as there are good prospects that this too will come to market. There is of course more testing to be done, but there is a good level of confidence that the basic infrastructure is sound and workable. Price? Well, the Mikrotimer is EUR65,000, so you can expect the Mikrogirder to be north of this…

In Summary

At the moment, details on the new regulator are scant, so we look forward to exploring this new innovation in more detail. What is clear is that- again- TAG Heuer have shown an amazing ability to think about fractions of time in a totally new way. We shouldn’t forget that at Basel 2008 TAG Heuer proudly showed off the Grand Carrera Calibre 36, which was the World’s first mechanical chronograph able to display accuracy to 1/10th of a second (i.e. 5 hertz). To now be talking about 1,000 hertz only four years later shows the incredible pace of development.

To read the inside story  on the TAG Heuer Mikrogirder 2000, click here.

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  • Jason

    Incredible.

  • AM

    amazing , i was lucky enough to try the Mikrotimer 1000 on for myself but the new Mikrogirder i cant wait to see when it is produced

  • Justin

    Thats just scary… Both the watch & how quickly you completed the article DC!

    The bullhead configuration reminds me of Bovet watches. Overall, another interesting piece that reinvents watch making traditional concepts.

  • Stephen

    These guys are just not stopping They are showing the competitors the way forward in timepiece technical advancement and will ultimately create even more brand demand even for the models from the lodger end of the range

  • Mark

    I like it for its mechanical achievement. I like the styling – stopwatch emerging from a Carrera case is an interesting choice and I bet it makes it comfortable to wear.

    Not easy to read, but then it was never going to be compared to a digital timer and it's more of a "to prove we can"-type watch.

    But the name?! Oh dear. Girders say solidity, substance. Micro ones not so much. I can see what they're getting at but I wish they'd found a different name. Not that one occurs to me at the moment either!

  • Not an easy thing to read, but you're unlikely to use it for any real purpose, maybe the kids sports day! More like a coversation piece down the pub. Still a marvalous piece of engineering. Still have doubts ref, wear of parts.

  • Monroe

    I wish Tag would quit playing around with these watches that will NEVER make it to production! Its annoying as a Tag fan to know that they're wasting R & D time and effort making this junk. Theyre not paving the way into any new technological advancements because noones trying to do this. It's not feasible on a production-type scale. Just make something that means something. Get back to the roots and make something for everyone like the Heritage was.

  • BIG CHRONO

    I see this gimmickry, along the lines of tourbillons & such, pandering to select wealthy patrons. Average slobs need not apply.

  • Stevie John

    I get that this is a concept watch and that Tag Heuer can use it as a fabulous marketing tool. The problem that I have with it is that it is impossible, and therefore ridiculous, to time anything accurately to 5/10,000ths (or even the 1/1000th of the Microtimer) when human reaction time is around 0.1 seconds.

  • Yaj

    I agree with stevie john. The accuracy of this watch would greately depend on the operator.

  • Peter

    The precision and accuracy of the device and the effect of human error on it is irrelevant. A 200mph car isn’t useless/rubbish because speed limits are 70mph. An engine that can rev to 9000rpm isn’t pointless because one that only revs to 4000rpm does the same job. DOHC isn’t pointless because pushrods work. A camera that records 16 bit (ok… 12 bit) images isn’t pointless because the eye can’t differentiate beyond 8 bit.

    The point of this is, unlike other companies’ workings with tourbillons, to do something new. When’s the last time any of the manufacturers invented new horological technology? As TAG Heuer rightly say, for the past 150 years, there has been no advancement in watch movements and 100% of watches still use balance wheel and hairspring as the oscillating part. If you like, this is the Veyron, Corcord or Space Shuttle of the watch world except it’s more profound than that. Those three examples used the existing technology to go further and faster. This is using brand new technology to change how things are done. It is combustion engine to steam, jet engine to propellor, digital camera to traditional film, cd to tape, lcd to crt.

    Don’t forget that this is showcasing new technology in a way that relates to TAG Heuer’s company strategy. They have previously been focussing on their chronographs as their continued use of the Carrera model for their concepts show. Their work so far has been on achieving greater precision in the time keeping first with the Mikrograph, then Mikrotimer and now Mikrogirder.

    Except the thing is this: unlike the previous two that were fundamentally chronograph developments, the Mikrogirder is a new regulator; it is not exclusive to chronograph applications.

    As JC Babin says in the presentation, the amplitude of the oscillations is so small, there is a benefit to power reserve compared to the regular balance wheel/hairspring system. Of course, the frequency at which it oscillates for the concept’s application probably negates any benefit. However, note that he also mentions that the Mikrogirder is happy to run at 50z. Ok that is still 10x what the El Primero runs at but at this more normal speed, I would like to see what kid of power reserve it has if used in a regular 3 hand watch and not for a chronograph.

    As someone else said in some other blog:
    If JLC/Omega/Rolex/AP/PP/IWC made this, there’d be a communal orgasm over it.

  • DC

    I found it interesting that on the same weekend as TAG Heuer showed the new entry-level series (Formula 1) it also showed a new ultra-high end watch…the bookends of the range.

    I love that TH and others as SIHH continue to invest in pushing the boundaries of mechanical movements. Given that so many watches today use movements that are more than 30 years old, its good to see money finally being put back into movements.

    I don’t agree that this is a waste of time, or that the practical limits of the user make the technology not worth pursuing. Most of us never use the basic functionality of a Chronograph, yet the Chronograph remains the key across the TAG Heuer range.

    Peter, agree with your perspective on the movement. I’ll be putting up some additional information on the Mikrogirder in the next few days- but in short, the power reserve is the same as the Mikrotimer, despite moving twice as fast.

    Mark, how about “Mikroblade”?

    David

  • Sven

    Hello

    Can me please someone give the E-mail adress from this Company??

    Thanks

    • DC

      Sven, best bet is to contact them via Facebook

      dc