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BASELNEWS 2011TAG Heuer MIKROTIMER Flying 1000 - The 1/1,000th of a second!

At 1/1,000th of a second, a Formula One racecar at full throttle travels about ten centimeters. Over a 305 km race, this might not seem much — the length of a finger — but it can mean the difference between second place and a World Championship. The TAG Heuer Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept Chronograph is the only mechanical timepiece that can precisely gauge this phenomenon.

TAG Heuer’s newest, fastest, most revolutionary timepiece creation to date, its measuring and mesmerizing powers are unprecedented. More than ever, it makes TAG Heuer the unrivalled master of high and ultra-high frequencies in mechanical watchmaking.

TAG Heuer: Mastering Speed for 150 Years

Founded in 1860, TAG Heuer has pioneered, mastered and dominated high-frequency timing and chronographs since 1916, the year Charles-August Heuer introduced the 1/100th Mikrograph stopwatch. With the Calibre 360 in 2005, TAG Heuer introduced the first-ever wrist mechanical chronograph measuring and displaying 1/100th of a second. In January 2011, TAG Heuer went one step further with the Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph, the first-ever wrist mechanical chronograph with a foudroyante central hand displaying 1/100th of a second.

Of all major houses in the Swiss watchmaking industry, TAG Heuer is more than ever the unrivalled master of accurate time measurement to the tiniest fraction, thanks to 95 years of accumulated know-how in high and ultra-high mechanical frequencies. The list of its patented world firsts is without equal:

 The Mikrograph (1916); the first-ever 1/100th of a second mechanical stopwatch. Introduced by Charles-August Heuer, the Mikrograph 1/50th and 1/100th, two patented stopwatches beating respectively at 180,000 and 360,000 beats per hour, revolutionized sports forever and led TAG Heuer to become the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games as early as 1920.

 The Microtimer (1966); the first-ever 1/1,000th miniaturized timekeeping system.
 Launched by Jack Heuer, the Microtimer 1/1,000th became the norm in contemporary timing and opened the gate to Formula 1 and Scuderia Ferrari for TAG Heuer.

 The Microtimer (2002); the first Swiss digital wrist chronograph accurate to the1/1000th of a second. Winner of the Best Design Award at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix 2002.

 For Indy 500 (2004), the first timing system accurate to the 1/10,000th of a second.
 On November 4, 2006, TAG Heuer set a new world record when it precisely clocked an astonishing 2/10,000ths of a second difference between first-place Mattias Ekström of Sweden and second-place Heikki Kovalainen of Finland in the semi-final of The Race of Champions in Paris. This astounding level of accuracy – the two drivers were averaging 120 km/h, which means they were separated by only 6.6 centimeters at the finish line — is unprecedented in the history of sports timekeeping.

 The TAG Heuer Calibre 360 (2005); the first modular mechanical wrist chronograph measuring and displaying 1/100th of a second thanks to an oscillator beating at 360,000 beats per hour. Commercialization started at the end of 2005 with the “Vanquish” limited edition, and was followed in 2006 by the Carrera Calibre 360. It won the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in 2006

 The TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Calibre 36 Caliper (2008); the first-ever integrated mechanical wrist chronograph measuring and displaying 1/10th of a second, thanks to an oscillator beating at 36,000 beats per hour coupled with a rotating caliper scale. It won the Ultimate Sports Inspired Timepiece of the Year Award at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix the same year.

 The TAG Heuer Pendulum (2010); the first mechanical watch regulated by a 6Hz magnetic field equivalent to 43,200 beats per hour. One of the few true technological revolutions of the last three centuries in terms of regulation, as for the first time a mechanical movement beats at high speed without a hairspring but thanks to a magnetic field.

 The Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph (2011), the first-ever integrated column wheel mechanical 1/100th of a second wrist chronograph with foudroyante central hand display. This game-changing innovation combined two assortments beating at 28,800 and 360,000 beats per hour respectively. It offers unrivalled precision and chronometry thanks to the independence of the “normal speed” and “high speed” watchmaking chains. COSC-certified, even in chronograph mode, this masterpiece redefines modern chronograph manufacture in terms of ultimate precision and readability. Commercialization will start in mid 2011 with a 150 limited edition encased in a beautiful rose gold case.

Today, TAG Heuer goes even further — an incredible 10 times further. The TAG Heuer Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept Chronograph, the world’s first mechanical wrist chronograph to measure and display 1/1,000th of a second sets a new milestone in mechanical precision. It is 125 times more accurate than the most famous mechanical chronographs on the market — thanks to a heart beating at the unbelievable speed of 3,600,000 beats-per-hour!

If the Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph is to watchmaking what walking on the moon is to space history, then the TAG Heuer Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept Chronograph is the equivalent of the first manned landing on Mars.

In 1/1000th of a second…

- Usain Bolt ran 1.2 centimeters while establishing his new 100 m world record of 9.58 seconds
- a cheetah at top speed travels 3 centimeters
- the Maglev train between Pudong International Airport and Shanghai travels 14 centimeters
- an Airbus 380 between Zurich and Singapore flies 24 centimeters
- a supersonic airplane breaking Mach 1 flies 33 centimeters
- a M16 bullet flies 97 centimeters
- Apollo 10 traveled 10 meters while establishing the fastest-ever speed for a manned craft in 1969
- the Earth rotates 29.8 meters around the Sun
- a fast neutron travels 10 kilometers
- light travels 300 kilometers

TAG Heuer: Challenging the Fundamental Principles of Watchmaking

In recent years, TAG Heuer watchmasters and engineers have taken on a bold challenge: to completely rethink the way a mechanical watch generates, stores, transmits and regulates energy and displays time. In 2004, it introduced the Monaco V4 Concept watch, the first belt-driven mechanical movement. In 2010, it unveiled the TAG Heuer Pendulum, the first mechanical watch regulated by magnetic fields instead of a hairspring and beating at 6Hz, the equivalent of 43,200 beats per hour, an exceptionally high frequency for mechanical watchmaking.

Now, taking the next step, TAG Heuer has broadened it research into spiral-based regulating systems. The result, an escapement developed together with Atokalpa and vibrating at the mind-blowing speed of  3,600,000 beats-per-hour — more than 3 times faster than the pistons of an F1 engine cranked to maximum speed — opens a new chapter in the glorious history of Swiss watchmaking, and reinforces TAG Heuer’s status as the absolute master of “Grande Complications” chronograph manufacturing.

The fastest mechanical regulating organ ever designed, developed and engineered!

As in racecar construction, the principal concern in chronograph engineering is precision, speed and readability. This is determined by the chronograph’s oscillating power and construction. Traditionally, oscillators used in chronograph manufacturing beat at 3, 4 or 5Hz, which is the equivalent of 21,600, 28,800, 36,000 beats per hour respectively.

Both the TAG Heuer Calibre 360 launched in 2005 and The Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph launched in January 2011 are equipped with 50Hz oscillators – ten times faster than the fastest conventional ones. They are to this day the 1st and only ever and have been commercialized since late 2005 for the former and mid 2011 for the later.

The Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept Chronograph pushes the concept even further, beyond what anyone dreamed possible — and past what everyone said was impossible. Using complex differential kinematics, TAG Heuer watchmasters and engineers have designed an ultra-high-frequency 500Hz spring oscillating system that vibrates a phenomenal 3,600,000 beats per hour, 125 times faster than most existing mechanical chronographs ever created and 10 times quicker than the former world-record holders TAG Heuer Calibre 360 and Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph.

The 100% TAG Heuer-built Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept Chronograph capitalizes on the construction of the integrated Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph and is equipped with two escapements:

 Regular time: 4Hz, 28,800 beats per hour, 42-hour power reserve.

 Ultra fast time: 500 Hz, 3,600,000 beats per hour.

It relies on an unprecedented 11 patents pending. The chronograph movement’s most remarkable innovations are:

1) There is no balance wheel system (patent pending). Its absence de facto eliminates all forms of isochronous errors normally caused by this conventional watch movement component, such as dilatation and inertial imperfection.

2) The mechanical regulating body, a high frequency 500Hz spiral (patent pending), developed together with Swiss watch component high-end manufacturer Atokalpa, is conceptually based on existing spirals but with an optimized rigidity and a reduced length. This gives static stability and extremely high dynamism with limited dilation. It also reduces gravity effects and shocks, while its low amplitude increases the isochronous precision of the pulse.

3) A dynamic lever/wheel transmission (patent pending) generates a hyper-velocity impulse unencumbered by pallet/teeth slippage: the lever literally rebounds on the wheel instead of sliding.

4) Unlike the self-starting balance wheel-spiral systems usually found watches, the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept Chronograph uses a Launcher-Hub-Brake system (patent pending) controlled by a column wheel and made possible because of the increased rigidity of the spiral. “START” activates the launcher by putting it in solid contact with the radial escapement. "STOP" radially pushes the launcher onto the hub, instantly stopping the movement of the spring.

Unique 2-Chain Architecture

Since 1969, the year TAG Heuer launched the world’s first automatic chronograph movement, coupling watch movement with chronograph function has become standard operation procedure. There is a serious “hitch”, however, with this isochronous system: its wheel chain gear system increases energy loss. This is one of the greatest quandaries of chronograph design — how to keep chronograph operation from disrupting watch operation.

Then came the TAG Heuer Calibre 360 in March 2005 and the TAG Heuer Mikrograph 1/100th of a second Chronograph in January 2011, which combined two independent kinematic chains — one for the watch and one for the chronograph — in an integrated movement for the Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph, thereby eliminating the need for a clutch. The system displays 1/100ths of a second on the central hand and beats at a very high frequency of 360,000 vibrations per hour. Separating the watch chain from the chronograph chain eliminates the risks of the chronograph influencing the watch and vice-versa; but most importantly, it reduces energy loss and optimizes the precision of the chronograph’s regulating organ. It allows the Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph to be COSC across the board — i.e. with the chronograph function running, a feat virtually impossible to achieve by conventional mono-frequency chronographs.

The Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept is an integrated chronograph using this same patent-pending two-chain architecture. The changes to the regulating body, however, make it 10 times more accurate than the Heuer CARRERA MIKROGRAPH 1/100th Second Chronograph — and 125 times more accurate than the fastest “high-end” oscillators found in most existing mechanical chronographs.

Displaying 1,000th of a second effortlessly and at a glance

Creating a mechanical chronograph that measures 1/1,000th of a second requires serious engineering. Making it easy to read — 10ths, 100ths, 1,000ths and minutes at a glance — requires even more. The flying central hand of the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 makes an astounding 10 rotations per second, indicating 1/1000th of a second and 1/100th of a second on a scale on the external part of the dial, which has 100 graduations over 360°. A second, smaller central hand indicates minutes (TAG Heuer Patent pending) and 1/12th of a minute on a 150-second scale. A counter at 6 o'clock displays 1/10th of a second, calibrated to 5 seconds.

This unique dial-scale display system allows direct, instantaneous reading of minutes, seconds and 1/1,000th , making this the only mechanical chronograph for sporting events like the Formula 1, where 1,000-of-a-second accuracy is essential. Above and beyond everything, it is one of the most stunning “Grande Complication” ever developed in mechanical watchmaking. Stunningly beautiful, with its black Titanium Carbide coated case with titanium horns and the black ruthenium-treated movement inside, the Mikrotimer Flying 1000 is still in the Concept Stage. As was the case of the Monaco V4, further development will be needed to ensure the same over-time reliability and precision that have characterized every TAG Heuer masterpiece commercialized over the last 151 years.

Once again, TAG Heuer demonstrates in style its innovation leadership and unrivalled mastery of mechanical watchmaking at high, very-high and ultra-high frequencies. Now, this 95-year epic domination and the brand’s accumulated know-how have, for the first time ever, made possible the measuring and reading of the 1/1000th of a second ….with a mechanical chronograph.

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