Based on a classic model from 1970s, the TAG Heuer Silverstone Chronographs (refs. CAM2111.FC6259 & CAM2110.FC6258) not only look great. They also look different from myriads of standard sporty timepieces that -expensive or cheap, hand-crafted or mass-produced- have flooded the market during the recent decade or two. Although the movement that powers the 2010 collection is modern, it is the vintage aura that makes me want to own one of these.
It looks like the next year will be a time of resurrections of various sorts. First, Ulysse Nardin announced a Classico reincarnation of their enigmatic San Marko model, and now the LVMH-owned luxury brand is going to give another go to their almost iconic Siverstone model from the 1970s.
The original Heuer Silverstone chronograph was first introduced in 1974, the year yours truly was born. So, forgive me for having a certain bias towards this almost vintage model.
Its cushion-shaped 42 mm case and clear, highly legible dial with well-proportioned chronograph totalizers make it almost an ideal sports watch.
Just like the Swiss brand has initially promised, this new device is almost identical to the original model both inside and outside.
Well, there are some minor visual differences here and there, but they are not evident.
Well, perhaps, some people may be slightly disappointed that the chronograph’s functionality was changed: the new model now has a 30-min chronograph counter at 9 o’clock (therefore the scale on the sub-dial is different) and a small seconds indicator at 3 hours (this one remained the same.)
The re-issue is powered by an upgraded Calibre 11 automatic movement. Based on ETA 2892* blank caliber, it also features a Dubois-Depraz micro-rotor module, as well as a bi-compax chronograph module that not only increases the jewel count from 21 to 59, but also makes servicing the mechanism a lot more difficult and, well, more expensive in the long run. This kind of oscillating weight configuration, by the way, was first used by Heuer more than fifty years ago. The design allows for a much thinner case in comparison to a normal automatic watch, but also requires a more efficient winding system to compensate for the relatively low mass of the rotor.
The funny thing here is that in the 1970s the Caliber 11 was used to animate the Monaco model, another living classic from Heuer, and the Heuer Silverstone was powered by the Caliber 12, which now ticks inside the Monaco chronographs.
The new Silverstone’s only problem is its price. Limiting its total production run to only 1500 pieces, TAG Heuer plans to charge as high as $6500 for this beauty, which is, um, a bit too steep for yours truly. However, if you are not afraid to shell out such a big chunk of money for the gadget, I am sure that you won’t regret it.
* UPDATE ON MOVEMENT: Starting from the year 2011, TAG Heuer made a switch from ETA 2892 to Sellita SW300-1 as a base for its Calibre 11. Although there may be some differences in design and perceived quality, the base movements are basically the same with the latter often referred to as a “clone” of the former.
Photos: TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer Silverstone Chronograph (refs. CAM2111.FC6259 & CAM2110.FC6258) specification
Price range: $6500 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber 11, automatic, base ETA 2892 with Dubois-Depraz micro-rotor module, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Stainless steel with a transparent case back
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Sunburst Brown (ref. CAM2111.FC6259) or Sunburst Blue (ref. CAM2110.FC6258)
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Brown alligator leather
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective coating on both sides