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
The 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.
The 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.
While 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.
18 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:
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
Anthracite 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.
- 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
If 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
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.
Paul Boutros, a Senior Moderator over at Timezone.com took these great shots and kindly agreed to share them with us- thanks Paul!
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.