TAG Heuer Carrera “Tête de Vipère” Chronograph has been pre-selected in the chronometry category of the 18th GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) awards which will be declared in November. Guy Semon, CEO, TAG Heuer Institute in a brief exchange with Hiren Kumar Bose dwells on the importance of Besancon Observatory certification that the brand has acquired—a validation chronometric apparatus can only aspire for
I am told very few have received the stamp of excellence awarded by the Besançon Observatory and TAG Heuer Carrera “Tête de Vipère” Chronograph Tourbillon Chronometer is one of them. That too for a chronometer for the first time. What is the protocol involved in becoming a recipient of the stamp?
At the outset let me correct you that TAG Heuer is the only brand in the world able to receive the famous “Tête de Vipère” stamp for mass-produced tourbillons. Watch, stopwatch, chronograph and tourbillon — all “Tête de Vipère”! The Besancon Observatory is the only public institution authorised to issue a quality certificate for a chronometric device in the name of a State — in this case, France but also on behalf of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). The Besancon Observatory “Tête de Vipère” stamp is the highest form of certification that a chronometric apparatus can receive. It’s not surprising that so few brands dare to submit their watches to the observatory’s tests. And no brand has ever dared to take on the viper’s head with a mass-produced watch. For the moment only 80 pieces of the “Heuer-02 Tête de Vipère” have received the precious stamp. It testifies to the mastery by TAG Heuer, the art of the tourbillon and its privileged position at the very top of the timekeeping. TAG Heuer does not make any compromises whatsoever between the movement and the watch head (the encasing of the movement inside the case).
The big difference between the “Tête de Vipère” and a “standard” chronometer test is that the ISO-3159 test is on the watch head. There is no compromise, especially with temperature variations. The watch case represents an anisotropic volume; the expansion of the metals generates constraints on the movement. Everything moves and expands too. To go face-to-face with the ‘viper’s head’ and stay at the top of watchmaking game, you must master everything. Everyone talks about it, but nobody knows how to do it. If you plan a trip to La Chaux-de-Fonds, do visit us and we’ll show you what we’re up to. There is no secret, everything is explainable.
Do take us through the watch’s architecture?
The performance achieved by the “Heuer-02 Tourbillon Tête de Vipère” watch does not result from any architecture but from a few key factors. Everything starts at the moment of conception. We built the watch by taking machine capabilities into account. At TAG Heuer, there is no “guru” who claims to know everything. We practice engineering science as a team. Everyone works together: the engineers in charge of design, the watchmakers in charge of assembly and adjustment, and the industrial production teams.