First Look: TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum

Having bought you the first images of the Pendulum movement, we can now share with you the very first photos of the TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum and its secret- this watch does not have a hairspring to regulate the movement- instead, it uses magnets.

This explains why TAG Heuer have joined forces with Tesla, because Telsa is not only the name of a car company, but also the name of the units of magnetic force- so a nice tie-in.

TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum - 1The Pendulum concept started about four years ago and is still in concept form- expect it to take a while for the technology to be ready for production, just as was the case with the Monaco V4 movement.

The case is PVD-coated and weighs in at an impressive 47mm- so much for watches getting smaller! The movement of the pendulum looks fantastic and there is a see-through window on the pendulum so that you can see the workings.

TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum - 3One of the key challenges with the design was ensuring the linear response from the regulator- this is relatively simple with a hair spring, but as you’d know when you put two magnets together, the magnetic pull does not increase in a linear fashion, but exponentially.

TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum - 11TAG Heuer have released a brief video to explain more about the movement:

Live Photos


The first-ever mechanical movement without hairspring

TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum - 1 TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum

Press release

TAG Heuer, the leading pioneer of Swiss watchmaking innovation since 1860, reinvents the heart of the mechanical movement

Developed and constructed in-house by TAG Heuer
A major watchmaking innovation!

During its 150 years at the forefront of the Swiss avant-garde, TAG Heuer has written some of the most important chapters in the history of mechanical watchmaking — from the oscillating pinion patented in 1887 to the groundbreaking 1/100th-of-a-second precision of the Calibre 360 chronograph in 2005.

Technological advancements like this point to one underlying truth: TAG Heuer does not innovate for innovation’s sake. The brand’s passion for the avant-garde is an essential element of its DNA and history, and the driving force of its R&D strategy.

TAG Heuer R&D objectives in the 3rd millennium: to progressively re-invent the three elementary principles of watchmaking — energy, transmission and regulation

Like most machines, a mechanical watch movement involves four basic operations: energy is generated, stored, transmitted and regulated. For centuries, these constants of mechanical watchmaking have been performed by three complementary blocks: a power storage system with cylindrical barrel, a transmission system with pinions and gears, and a regulation system with balance wheel, spiral hairspring and escapement.

With the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Concept Watch, TAG Heuer substituted the traditional pinion and gear transmission with a belt-driven mechanical transmission. An award-winning BaselWorld concept watch in 2004, the Monaco V4 became a commercial reality at the end of 2009, when it was successfully launched in limited edition of 150 “Haute Horlogerie” pieces.

Now, to mark its 150th anniversary, TAG Heuer proudly introduces the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept, the first-ever mechanical movement without hairspring.

TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept: a radical “out of the box” rethink of mechanical time regulation design and performance

Since the creation of the Galileo-inspired hairspring by Christiaan Huygens in 1675, the regulating organ of all mechanical watches has been based on a balance wheel and spiral-shaped torsion hairspring system. A coiled strip of fine metal alloy, the hairspring provides the torque necessary for the balance wheel to oscillate and regulate its frequency. Over the centuries, it has been significantly modified and improved. Charles-Edouard Guillaume (1861-1938), the son of a Swiss watchmaker, discovered new alloys (Invar and Elinvar) that significantly reduced the metal spring’s thermal sensitivity. Guillaume won the Nobel Prize for Physics for this invention in 1920.

With the challenge of temperature diminished by Guillaume’s alloys, the spiral hairspring regulation system came to dominate mechanical movement design. However, the mechanical hairspring has three serious design limitations: a mass that makes it sensitive to gravity and deforms its geometry; a material that makes it sensitive to thermal expansion; and a divergence between its geometric centre and its centre of mass. These may cause isochronal issues that can be technically and physically improved but never completely eliminated.

Overcoming the design limitations inherent in the traditional regulation system by eliminating the need for a spiral hairspring was the first challenge TAG Heuer set for itself. The second was keeping the movement 100% mechanical: conventional watchmaking wisdom has always held that a mechanical watch without spiral hairspring would necessarily require another energy source for its regulation.

In the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept, the traditional hairspring is replaced by an “invisible” or virtual spring derived from magnets. The complete device forms a harmonic oscillator. The magnetic field, generated by means of 4 high-performance magnets and controlled in 3D through complex geometric calculations, provides the linear restoring torque necessary for the alternative oscillations of the balance wheel. The oscillating period of the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept is resistant to changes from perturbing forces, which is what makes it an exceptionally good timekeeping device. The movement built with this revolutionary oscillator is fully mechanical and does not contain any electronics or driven actuators. The magnets generate a constant field over decades.

TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept, the world’s first oscillator in a mechanical movement without hairspring, beats at 43,200/hour (6 Hertz) — making it a superlative representative of TAG Heuer’s unique mastery of high frequencies and ultimate precision. It requires no additional components and is based on physical magnetic properties. It gets its name from an earlier Huygens creation — the pendulum clock of 1657.

TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept: A potent new technical milestone in mechanical movements

The TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept not only overturns 3 centuries of conventional watchmaking tradition, it also represents in and of itself an enormous technological leap forward. In a classical spiral hairspring system, the effect of gravity due to mass is a dominant issue. With the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept, the problem no longer even exists. There is no loss of amplitude and the movement’s frequency can be modulated on a very large spectrum of frequency without overburdening the power supply. The result is a significant increase in precision (division of time) and performance (frequency accuracy and stability).

The TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept is the first-ever magnetic oscillator without hairspring capable of providing a restoring torque comparable to that of a hairspring: the basic principle of the Swiss anchor escapement is therefore unchanged, but the absence of mass and therefore inertia allows for much larger frequencies. Theoretical precision is significantly higher as it is possible to oscillate at small angles (the elementary principle of oscillator accuracy) without altering the return torque and, especially important, without causing geometric deformations.

TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept Project: 5 years of R&D effort

The TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept project involved in-house TAG Heuer R&D engineers and watchmakers working in an extensive research partnership with microsystems research experts at the Integrated Actuators Laboratory (LAI), part of the Microtechnics Institute of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

Starting from scratch has required advanced digital simulation coupled with physical analysis (mechanics, magnetism and thermal behaviour). It took TAG Heuer’s R&D team 3 years of intensive digital 3D simulation research to precisely orient the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept’s virtual magnetic spring.

An old adversary still remains: the magnets are sensitive to temperature. The challenge facing TAG Heuer now is to discover the magnetic equivalent of invar-elinvar: to, in a sense, add Charles Edouard Guillaume’s accomplishments to those of Christiaan Huygens. Once addressed, the TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept will no longer be a concept but a new milestone in mechanical regulator technology. As with the V4, this may take years, but TAG Heuer is committed to taking on the challenge and pursuing the epic Pendulum adventure.

TAG Heuer does not claim that the Pendulum Concept will take the place of traditional, high-quality Swiss hairsprings in mainstream mechanical movements, but rather offer a “Haute Horlogerie” alternative, which could lead to high-end limited editions in the future, as was the case with the Monaco V4’s movement transmission innovations.

TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum Concept: a breakthrough movement housed inside a motor sports-inspired icon of premium luxury

The Grand Carrera is the utmost prestigious incarnation of TAG Heuer’s unrivalled motor racing heritage and passion for avant-garde design and technology. Launched in 2007 and inspired by modern GT cars, the series was an instant success, widely acclaimed by watch and motor-sports enthusiasts for its effortless, at-a-glance readability and superlative aesthetics.

The design of the TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum Concept is faithful to the exclusive luxury codes of the Grand Carrera: polished and angled edges, curved and facetted horns on both sides of black titanium covered steel case. The special dial aperture at 9 o’clock allows to admire the beating heart of TAG Heuer Pendulum Concept’s avant-garde movement.

Inside and out, this is a superlative timepiece, a noble extension of the Grand Carrera collection and a worthy showcase of a breakthrough advancement in watchmaking technology.

The TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum Concept opens a promising new era in watchmaking, with potentially powerful new movements precise to ever-smaller fractions of time. The effect on future watches and chronographs design and function may be huge — and TAG Heuer once again leads the way even though it will take years before it will become a commercial realty. Patents have been filed and are pending.

  • Johan

    Excellent reports as always, David! I follow your adventures in Switzerland with much interest. Cheers!

  • It'll be interesting to see how TAG manages to protect the movement from magnetic interference, it looks like the accuracy is based on very tight tolerances of the magnets. Maybe the case itself is a Faraday cage?

    Really interesting design!

  • DC

    Thanks Johan- its been a great trip so far…still a couple of watches that I want to grab some photos of..

    Not sure how the magnets are insulated within the case…a faraday cage? Sounds like you know a lot more about this than I do!!


  • Dave

    They give no quantative indication of its performance advantage.

    Since it only replaces the balance-wheel the only advantage can be precision.

    OK, so they are still developing it, but unless they target an improved accuracy (say better than 1s per day as a nice round number) it is just so much mechanical jewelery and not a contribution to mechanical-watch performance. A sort of magnetic tourbillon.

  • DC

    Good question Dave. I'm not sure whether this is about making a better movement, or whether its an exercise in research and showcasing TAG Heuer's skills as an innovator/ watch maker.

    I am meeting Jean Christophe Babin tomorrow, so I will ask him.


  • locke

    i am very curious to learn what is the price of this masterpiece…

    does anyone can help me..?

  • DC

    Hi Locke,

    I don't think that TAG Heuer have even decided whether this will make it to production yet, let alone thought of a price. My guess is that any production version is at least 3-4 years away, as the technology needs to be proved up- just like what happened with the Monaco V4.

    Hopefully if it does make it to production its a little cheaper than the V4!


  • Crazy Larry

    Thanks for the education & enlightenment – GREAT article!

    BTW, perhaps I'm just confused, but don't 36,000 BPH watches (Zenith, etc.) have a 10-sec Hz; i.e., 36,000 beats/hour x (1 hour/3600 sec.) = 10 beats/sec = 10 Hz?

    … just like 28,800 watches (ETA 2824, etc.) have an 8-Hz motion (that increments the seconds hand 8 times per second!)

    Therefore, wouldn't the 43,200 beats/hour on the TAG "Pendulum" result in a 12-Hz rate rather than the 6-Hz mentioned in your article? IMHO, 12 'steps' per second should be imperceptible to the average 'user', but 6 is worse than a 2824 and would certainly be noticeable.

    Intuitively, I feel that TAG's 43,200 should "beat" anything with a lower rate – er, pun intended!

    • DC

      Larry, sorry for the tardy response- I missed this one.

      The 6-Hz figure came from TAG Heuer itself- but you ask a good question…and one that I can't answer!


  • Marco

    How much?

    • DC

      From what I understand, TAG Heuer are a long way from working out whether they can make this work as a production model, so a price is a long way off…


  • george

    where can buy

  • DC

    See the answers in the comments above yours George- no firm date for production (if ever) and no view on price.

    I wouldn't expect to see this on sale for at least a couple of years


  • flávio

    where can I find?

    what is the price?

    • DC

      Nowhere yet Flavio- it's still being developed/ commercialised. I would have thought it's a minimum of 12-24 months away, if it ever makes it to production.


  • Brad

    Is the pendulum a manual wind or is it automatic; and, what is the accuracy stated?

  • SAMI

    What is the cost of this masterpiece?

  • DC

    Sami- see the response from 14 December


  • AK

    DC – wont it need a tourbillon? will it have the accuracy of a tourbillon?

  • DC


    No, a Tourbillon is a different type of movement- one that primarily negates the effect on gravity on the accuracy of the movement. It still has a Mainspring.

    I imagine the number one issue of the Pendulum at the moment is accuracy in a variety of temperatures…so until that gets fixed, no, it won't have the same accuracy.


  • fazl

    hey i gotta tag heuer as gift, grand carrera pendulum, calibre with rubber with steel strap…can anyone help me to know its price n other details…please…

  • DC

    There seem to be quite a few fake Pendulums finding their way onto the market at the moment.

    The Grand Carrera Pendulum has not been released and is still in the testing and R&D phase. If you have a Pendulum on your wrist today I'm afraid that it is a fake- there are no real GC Pendulums on the market.


  • Cuba

    My sister bought me one from dubai… and when i opened the box i was shocked that it was fake !! containing a pendulum and everything but with some slight differences :S !! i can't throw it away cuz it's a gift afterall lol !! keep us updated when it's released i'm holding on my next paycheck to afford it 🙂

    hasan cuba

  • ankur

    wht is the cost of pendulum watch i want to buy this.

  • DC

    Hi Ankur- see the comments above. Its not in production yet- maybe we'll get an update at Basel next March


  • sam sylvester.A

    Hi i need to know whether the Grand Carrera Calibre 17 series of watch with a pendulum of my friends is original or not…. i'll send u the pictures….but how…

  • DC

    Hi Sam,

    Unless your friend is the CEO of TAG Heuer, then the watch is a watch with the Pendulum movement has ever been made for sale.


  • Dom

    43,200 beats or vibrations per hour = 6Hz

    Hertz is a measure of frequency, like a sine wave on an oscilloscope. So, it measures oscillations … a complete cycle. In a watch vibrations are measured at the impact point where the balance wheel is not going forward or backward, basically just at the point where it's reversing direction.

    Translation, one cycle of the balance wheel produces two vibrations.

    Sorry if this is a repeat post, but now I have a couple of questions. If the energy for the pendulum comes from magnets and there's no hairspring, does this mean Tag has created a near perpetual operating movement? I understand the comment that temperature has a significant effect on the magnets, but what about other sources magnetism or electrical fields? How do you get it restarted if it should stop for some reason?

  • DC

    Hi Dom,

    Yes, correct on the frequency of the Pendulum. See an update that we wrote late last year where Jean Christophe Babin tells us about developments on the Pendulum:

    I understand that the Pendulum is inside a type of Faraday Cage to block out external electrical fields.


  • shahid khan

    Please let me know the price for this watch,aprox

  • vanessa

    necesito urgente saber el precio de este reloj porfavor

  • vanessa

    quiero saber el precio de este reloj gran carrera pendulum calibre 11

  • nipun

    i got a pendulum watch plzz some help me to konw is this real or not???

  • chandrashekara

    what is the cost of this watch? in india & will we get it in bangalore of karnataka in india?

  • The watch is only a prototype- a production model has never been made and never will!