The start of the mandate of Stéphane Linder, TAG Heuer’s new CEO, has seen a major milestone: creation of the brand’s first manufactured caliber. To be sure, initial work on this commenced two years ago, but implementation really marks a step forward, securing the firm’s watchmaking future.
Ultimately, the new Calibre 1969 will become one of TAG Heuer’s two pillars, along with the 1887. Together, by 2016 they will account for 20% of the chronographs produced by the brand. And that proportion is set to rise rapidly: TAG Heuer is aiming for total integration. As a result, it is set to become the leading Swiss manufacturer of chronographs in the not-too-distant future.
The Calibre 1969 will bear a huge responsibility in terms of what lies ahead for the brand. With this in mind, it has already been designed and modelled so as to be as flexible as possible. Technically, its add-on module design will enable it to change its aspect depending on the complications used. From an aesthetic point of view, its compact size and thinness (6.5mm) will allow it to blend into collections other than the men’s chronographs that have forged the brand’s reputation. Practically speaking, with almost 80 hours’ power reserve, it will be comfortably positioned right up there with the best timepieces in terms of autonomy. Even today, the vast majority of contemporary chronographs barely manage half that!
A new caliber in a new setting
Although the La Chaux-de-Fonds site has a workforce of around 450, most of whom are in production, it has become too small for TAG Heuer’s ambitions. A few weeks ago, the brand opened a new unit in Chevenez. This will be fully dedicated to production.
At the same time, TAG Heuer will continue to call on the services of its long-standing partners, some of whom are closely related, belonging to the same group. One such firm is Artecad, which will be producing a large share of the dials for the future timepieces based on the Calibre 1969. While it is part of the group, Artecad also remains free to work for outside entities: for TAG Heuer, this ensures that it has open-minded partners, constantly gaining fresh experience and new expertise.
The watch dials designed for the 1969 base are an essential component of TAG Heuer’s strategy for the future. Whereas the Calibre 1887 had a ‘12/3/6’ counter layout (with the counter dials positioned at 12, 3 and 6 o’clock), the 1969 features a tricompax 3/6/9 arrangement.
More knowledgeable connoisseurs will catch the explicit reference to the brand’s historical chronographs. The name of the new timepiece is quite simply a reference to this history: 1969 was the year that saw the arrival of TAG Heuer’s original founding caliber, the legendary Calibre 11 – the launchpad for its Monaco watches. Today, the Calibre 1969 marks a return to the style that has shaped the legend of the brand. In terms of design, it also offers an excellent alternative to the Calibre 1887.
A colourful year
For TAG Heuer, 2013 is likely to be just as important in its history as 1969. Only time will tell. That said, the brand is already heralding another colourful year, as can be seen from the visual identity chosen for the festive season. This features a movement assembling itself amid bright light and the clearly displayed tagline: “The art of manufacturing”.
More than ever before, TAG Heuer is modelling itself as an integrated, forward-looking firm that also cherishes its past. It will be continuing to explore the future thanks to its R&D, which has led to some of the most breath-taking timekeeping developments of the past century.