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TAG Heuer Debuts In-House Calibre 1969 (CH 80) Automatic Chronograph Watch Movement

TAG Heuer Debuts In-House Calibre 1969 (CH 80) Automatic Chronograph Watch Movement Inside the Manufacture

It’s November in the Jura region of Switzerland in a small town none of us have heard of called Chevenez. It begins to snow outside as we tour the modern black and white colored grounds of TAG Heuer’s newest facility known as the d’Avant-Garde Manufacture. Recently completed, the new manufacturing site began recently in 2012. Now that it is done, the location will be the epicenter of TAG Heuer mechanical chronograph movement production including the just announced Calibre 1969, which later has been renamed to the TAG Heuer Calibre CH 80.

Stephane Linder sits in front of me and a small group of journalists comfortable in his new role as the global CEO of TAG Heuer. He was a top executive in the US with the brand prior to his promotion, and seems very comfortable back home in the Swiss countryside. Sharp and witty, Linder is an engineer and former product development guy who is intimately aware of the the ins-and-outs of movement and watch making. He replaces former TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Christophe Babin who has moved on to LVMH sister brand Bulgari. One a businessman and one an engineer, Babin and Linder share a friendly charisma and extroverted passion but are two very different men. Linder is now charged with taking TAG Heuer to the next level, which very much involves in-house made chronograph movements.

TAG Heuer Debuts In-House Calibre 1969 (CH 80) Automatic Chronograph Watch Movement Inside the Manufacture

TAG Heuer CEO Stephane Linder

TAG Heuer Debuts In-House Calibre 1969 (CH 80) Automatic Chronograph Watch Movement Inside the Manufacture

TAG Heuer d’Avant-Garde Manufacture in Chevenez, Switzerland

Linder speaks in a manner that places the company in his own perspective. Taking a serious level of personal ownership over the happenings of TAG Heuer he remarks on “what I can produce, what I can develop, and what I can sell.” When he says “I” he means “we.” It is a unique leadership and communication style only possible through someone who knows the brand and its capabilities very well. Linder certainly does. For now we get to talking about the future of the watch industry and how TAG Heuer will play a role in it. We begin with numbers.

By 2014 the Chevenez manufacture will be able to produce 50,000 movements per year. By 2016 that number will grow to 100,000 movements per year – which is Linder’s goal. As of now the facility will only produce two movements, the Calibre 1887 (released in 2009), and the brand new Calibre 1969. Together they represent the movements TAG Heuer produces itself in appreciable quantities. The specialty haute horlogerie movements in watches such as the Monaco V4 and MikroPendulumS are also in-house made but produced elsewhere and in much smaller quantities. A volume of 100,000 chronograph movements a year will push TAG Heuer past a particular threshold.

TAG Heuer Debuts In-House Calibre 1969 (CH 80) Automatic Chronograph Watch Movement Inside the Manufacture

TAG Heuer Debuts In-House Calibre 1969 (CH 80) Automatic Chronograph Watch Movement Inside the Manufacture

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  • Ulysses31

    Nice to see an engineer at the helm.  The 1969 movement looks like a great new option for people after chronographs.  Simpler, more efficient, unashamedly constructed by machines (perhaps with a little human finishing and assembly of course), sounds like a very Japanese approach.  It might bother some buyers, but I think it’s progress if it leads to better value and higher performance.  Robots are tools built by humans to extend their capabilities, and are constructed and programmed with the intent of a human mind driving them so I don’t have a problem with it.  What bugs me is when companies that mass produce most of their parts don’t reflect the lower cost of production in their retail prices; hopefully that won’t be the case here, but we’ll see.

  • The view of the back of the movement is almost German in appearance with the large (not quite 3/4) plate and exposed balance cock and assortment. At 6.5 mm, it is a bit thicker than an ETA 2894 (6.1) but thankfully thinner than ETA 7750 (7.9). No complaints about the thickness considering the 70 hours of power reserve. 
    And U-31, no one seems to mind the degree of automation at Rolex, I agree that having machines the tasks then can do it appropriate. Same with humans doing what they do best. 
    Don’t hold your breath waiting for lower prices 🙂

  • Markiemark85

    Absolutely wonderfully done movement. TAG Heuer are really proving their watchmaking worth this day and age and shaking off all the bad that came in the 90’s. Even though Stephane Linder is at the helm now, a lot of thanks has to go Jean-Christophe’s way. He set a plan from 1999 and brought the company to where it is today. I can’t wait to see the first watch that contains a Cal. 1969 with a case from Cortec and a dial from Articad. Well done in truly becoming a watch manufacturer TAG Heuer!

  • Ulysses31

    MarkCarson That’s basically what I was alluding to.  Rolex have a hefty markup.  The quality is undeniable but in general we expect mass-production and automation to drive prices down.  You’re probably right about the prices.  As opposed to something that materially and financially costs them less to produce, they’ll push the novelty factor and try to justify a higher price.  If you’re one of the Swiss big boys, watch-making is a very lucrative industry.

  • Oelholm

    Good on them to produce a slim chronograph – Omega, are you listening?
    Btw, picture three on page two should be titled “why skinny guys shouldn’t wear big watches”.

    Sincerely, a skinny guy.

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