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.

***