While watch collectors worldwide know of the COSC certification for Chronometers, less is known of COSC’s French cousin with a much cooler name- the Tête de Vipère, or Viper’s Head. TAG Heuer has upgraded the Carrera Heuer-02T tourbillon for 2018 to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Carrera with a special edition chronograph- the Carrera Tourbillon Tête de Vipère, a limited edition of 155 watches and the first TAG Heuer to earn the stamped Viper’s Head.
But rather than simply being a new certification, TAG Heuer has updated the new tourbillon with a new deep blue ceramic case with complementary blue detailing.
The “Tête de Vipère” Certification
Until a few years ago it appeared as though COSC (“Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres”) in Geneva had the market covered for certification of high-specification chronometers. Historically, there were three such bodies: COSC in Geneva, Wempe Glashütte in Germany and the Besançon Observatory in France, but with Wempe losing its independence and the Besançon Observatory ceasing its certifications in the 1970s, only COSC remained. Still, its effective monopoly has been eroded in recent years, with Omega opting to create its own standard with the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (
In 2006, the Besançon Observatory decided to rebuild its certification work, reviving the Tête de Vipère stamp that was applied to a chronometer for the first time by the Besançon Observatory in 1897. Over the last twelve years only 500 pieces have obtained the certification, which unlike the COCS process involves a fully assembled watch (COSC tests just the movement) undergoing a 16 day testing regime, testing in five different positions at three different temperatures.
TAG Heuer say that the Besançon Observatory, operating on behalf of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, is the only independent, public organisation able to inspect chronometers. The “Tête de Vipère” stamp has been applied to the bridge, visible through the sapphire crystal of the case back.
We understand that TAG Heuer will not be the only LVMH brand to certify it’s watches at the Besançon Observatory, with Zenith also investigating expanding its certification programme.
The 2018 Carrera Heuer-02 LE uses the same 45mm case as the standard Carrera tourbillon, but this time in a midnight blue ceramic case, with matching blue ceramic bezel and lugs. The blue colour scheme is also applied to the weight and movement barrel and on the dial, with blue SuperLuminova™ minute markers.
Finally, there is midnight blue stitching on the black strap, which consists of a matte black alligator sewn onto a rubber base, giving a nice balance between sports and luxury.
There had been rumours that the revised Tourbillon would feature a nanotube hairspring made of carbon, as developed by Zenith for its El Primero 21 movement launched last year, but as far as we can see the change in hairspring has yet to occur.
Price and Availability- Carrera Heuer-02 Tourbillon Tête de Vipère Ref. CAR5A93
The 2018 Carrera Heuer-02T Tête de Vipère will be launched in Q3 2018. And while the price has yet to be confirmed, we expect pricing to be around the US$25,000 mark.