by Christopher Scapelliti
TAG Heuer CEO and president Jean Christophe Babin is calling it “watchmaking’s equivalent of man going to Mars.” “It” is TAG’s new Mikrotimer Flying 1000 Concept Chronograph, the first mechanical wrist chronograph to count and display time in 1/1,000th of a second.
Presented last week at Baselworld 2011, the Mikrotimer is the latest innovation to come from TAG in recent months. In January, the watchmaker set a new record in Geneva with its Mikrograph, the first mechanical chronograph to display 1/100th of a second. The Mikrograph accomplished that feat through a high-frequency balance wheel that oscillates at 50Hz, more than 10 times faster than most mechanical chronographs.
All of which makes the Mikrotimer’s 500Hz frequency even more astounding. Clocking in at a rate of 3.6 million beats per hour, the Mikrotimer’s mechanism turns the central chrono hand at 10 laps per second to provide 1/1,000th of second accuracy. The mechanism features no balance wheel, and it beats at two frequencies: 500Hz for the chronograph and 4Hz for the standard watch operations.
And then there is the Mikrotimer’s design, a sporty composition featuring black titanium carbide and lime-colored chronograph hands and legends. The watch has two larger central chrono hands: the green hand counts 1/100ths and 1/000ths of a second, while the smaller chrono hand displays elapsed minutes and 1/12s of a minute. A five-second subdial at 6 o’clock features a chronograph that measures 1/10th of a second.
While the Mikrotimer is unquestionably the most accurate wrist chronograph, TAG has no word on when it will arrival. According to Babin, development could take anywhere from three to 10 years.