TAG Heuer Unveils MikrotourbillonS

TAG Heuer have taken the wraps off their most ambitious watch to date – a Chronograph with two tourbillons and capable of recording time to a precision of 1/100th second called the MikrotourbillonS. As well as being one of the few mechanical watches on the planet capable of recording time to 1/100th second, the MikrotourbillonS also has the world’s fastest tourbillon – it rotates once every 5 seconds, or 12-times per minute.

Mechanical watches have a regulating mechanism that controls the speed and regularity of the oscillations, commonly called the “beats”. More beats per second allows that second to be broken into smaller fractions and therefore measured. The MikrotourbillonS beats 360,000 times per hour, or 100 times a second, meaning that it can divide a single second into 100 parts and accurately measure 1/100th of a second.

TAG Heuer have two watches that beat at 360,000 beats per hour, but the MikrotourbillonS is the only one to be regulated by a Tourbillon. So, what is a tourbillon and what makes it special? A tourbillon is considered the ultimate in watch making – a highly complex system that typically places the balance wheel and escapement in a small cage that rotates, therefore eliminating the effect of gravity on a watch. The Tourbillon was invented in the 1800’s when it wasn’t easy to accurately regulate a pocket watch to counter the effect of gravity and while this is no longer a problem today, the Tourbillon remains the most challenging mechanical watch complication.

What makes TAG Heuer‘s system unique is that it uses two tourbillons – one to regulate the time-keeping function and the other to regulate the Chronograph. The benefit of having two escapements with their own tourbillon is that it allows the watch and the Chronograph to be independently powered and so using one doesn’t impact on the power reserve of the other.

Enough about the watch mechanics – let’s take a look at the watch itself. The MikrotourbillonS uses a 45mm Rose Gold Carrera case with contrasting black Tantalum (an exotic metal that is highly resistant to corrosion that is used in electronics) bezel. The dial is Anthracite (a sort of gun-metal Grey colour) with two distinct halves: the first half housing the various sub-dials and the second half dedicated to the two tourbillons. After all, what is the point of having a watch with two tourbillons if you hide them away behind a dial? Overall, the watch has a suitably modern, “high-tech” feel and looks good with its Rose Gold/ Black/ Anthracite colour scheme.

The TAG Heuer Mikrotourbillon is a piece of horological art and is priced accordingly at more than CHF 200,000 Swiss Francs (around £135,000), a fairly typical price for a tourbillon watch. So, well and truly out of reach for most of us, but a watch that everyone should be glad exists. It was only five years ago that the idea of TAG Heuer making any of its own movements would have been met with surprise and indignation in Swiss watchmaking circles. Now, in 2012, no one is surprised to see the newly resurgent company offer its first tourbillon and a highly complex one at that. The Mikrotourbillon is clear proof from TAG Heuer that its watchmaking ability is as good and as innovative as any of its competitors.