This year’s SIHH 2011 trade show is in the final stage of preparations with elite exhibitors polishing-off their stands, while visitors and bloggers having nightmares about losing their tickets and invitations. Who seems to be cool about the upcoming event is TAG Heuer. In about three days, the brand will officially present its long-awaited Carrera Mikrograph (ref. CAR5040.FC8177) limited-edition automatic chronograph.
The chronograph is going to be limited to only 150 numbered pieces. It not only looks cool (unlike some of their competitors, the company has apparently invested a healthy pile of cash into re-imagining their design language,) but also features a unique complication that comes as part of their “Mikrograph” caliber. After about five years of tinkering with “conceptual” movements that tried to bring about the 1/100th of a second chronograph complication efficiently and reliably, the Swiss manufacturer has finally delivered a mechanism that does just that. Or so it seems.
The chronograph’s case will possibly be either of the same size as the Grand Carrera Chronograph model, or just a trifle larger. So, the best bet will be around 41 or 43 millimeters (UPDATE: it will indeed be delivered in a case measuring 43 millimeters in diameter).
Judging by the photos, the Carrera Mikrograph will be presented in a rose gold case roughly of the same shape as the aforementioned Grand Carrera.
TAG Heuer still doesn’t want to go into details regarding the movement.
However, it is known that the automatic caliber will feature two independent balance wheels with separate transmissions and escapements.
One will be beating at standard 28,800 vph and will be used to count hours and minutes, and the other will race at a mind-numbing speed of 360,000 vibrations per hour and will power the 1/100th-second chronograph sub-system.
The Mikrograph function gets so much attention that chronograph’s blue central second hand will even receive its own chapter ring that resembles that of traditional stopwatches used before the onslaught of ultra-precise digital timers.
As one may guess, Mikrograph’s hand takes just one second to complete a full rotation. Although, frankly, I find the function useless for, maybe, 99.99 percent of future customers, I must admit that the way the chronograph’s central seconds hand rotates around the dial looks breathtaking! As, of course, is breathtaking its MSRP of $50,000, which is about twice more expensive than a normal chronograph in a rose gold body.
While not outrageous for a wristwatch that is delivered in an oversized solid rose gold case and features a complication that currently is unique for TAG Heuer, it will still be out of reach for (a rough estimate) 99 percent of the brand’s faithful fans who simply won’t be able to upgrade from their “normal” Carreras to this wrist-monster. On the other hand, when you have such an interesting caliber in your portfolio, you can command pretty much any price you want as long as production is limited and quality is properly controlled.
I can’t wait to see one in person for a proper hands-on review.
Build quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer Carrera Mikrograph (ref. CAR5040.FC8177) specification
Price: $50,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, TAG Heuer caliber 360, in-house, 35.8 mm x 7.95 mm, COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 28,800 vph / 360,000 vph (hybrid design)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, 1/100th second “Mikrograph” chronograph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case and Bezel: Rose gold, 18-karat
Size: 43.00 mm
Dial: Chocolate brown and white
Hands: 18-karat rose gold, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Dark brown leather, hand-sewn, solid 18-karat rose gold pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides