Accurately measuring time is of course the very essence of high-end watchmaking. Even more challenging, however, is to precisely divide seconds into the smallest possible fractions by means of a chronograph function. From the beginning, TAG Heuer has pioneered utmost precision and ever pushed limits of accuracy beyond conventional frontiers, making it today the undisputed master of every tiny fraction of time, 1/10th, 1/100th, 1/1,000th and 1/10,000th of a second.With the Tag Heuer Carrera Mikrograph 1/100th replica watch, the only commercially available timepiece accurate to 1/100th of a second, TAG Heuer introduces the concept of the dual chain. This technology allows, in an integrated mechanical movement, the elimination of cross-interference between the replica watch and the chronograph, and paves the way for an authentic dual-certification timepiece. Launched in January 2011, it is the first integrated column wheel mechanical 1/100th of a second wrist chronograph with flying central hand display. This game-changing innovation combines two assortments beating at 28,800 and 360,000 beats/hour respectively. It offers unrivalled precision and chronometry thanks to the independence of its “normal speed” and “high speed” watchmaking chains.
The man behind the watch is the physicist Guy Sémon. Formerly employed in the aerospace industry, Sémon is currently vice president of Sciences & Engineering at TAG Heuer and the director of its research division in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Together with watchmaker Denis Badin and engineer Janick Chatelain, Sémon constructed an integrated chronograph. This new movement powers the Mikrograph 1/100. A major feature of this watch is its two different balance wheels, with separate escapements and transmission systems that allow you to run the chronograph without interfering with the watch movement. One balance, which oscillates at a speed of 4 hertz (28,800 vph), regulates the timekeeping movement, which has a 42-hour power reserve. The second balance, manufactured by Atokalpa, beats at a rate of 50 hertz (360,000 vph), and is responsible for the accuracy of the chronograph movement, which will run for a maximum of 90 minutes before needing additional energy. An arc-shaped scale, calibrated from 100 to 0 and positioned below 12 o’clock on the dial, shows the percentage of power remaining in the chronograph’s barrel. The movement has two separate barrels, assuring that both the time display and the chronograph have enough energy.
The timekeeping movement and the stopwatch are integrated into a single caliber, but they work independently of each other. Each draws its energy from its own barrel, and the power from each barrel is transferred along a separate pathway. The barrel that keeps the watch running is replenished through the conversion of kinetic energy from the blackened rotor of the self-winding movement. The chronograph’s barrel requires manual energy input, which is accomplished by turning the crown after it has been pulled out to its first position. The power-reserve display and a resistance that can be felt indicate that the device has been fully wound. The automatic movement can also be manually rewound by turning the crown counterclockwise. This means that the chronograph can continue to run after the watch has stopped and vice versa. This construction was necessary because even if the chronograph’s balance were designed to beat at a slower pace, coupling the stopwatch with the same energy flow that powers the watch would always cause the amplitude of the balance to decline abruptly and would detract from the accuracy of the watch.
Where the movement gets a bit quirky is with the winding system. While the time movement is automatically wound by the rotor, the chronograph movement must be hand-wound. I guess it just requires a lot more torque. Reading the dial is pretty simple, and even with all the numbers it does not feel cluttered.
An un-apologetically vintage style design with a very modern movement makes for a watch that is a few things to a few people. It makes me wonder if Tag Heuer is marketing to multiple groups with this watch. The gold case and style will appeal to fashion types wanting something "special" from the racing replica watch brand. The movement on the other hands will appeal to gear-head watch collectors who appreciate the high performance chronograph. I think it is interesting how Tag Heuer created something for both of these audiences.