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Vintage Heuer Discussion Forum
The place for discussing 1930-1985 Heuer wristwatches, chronographs and dash-mounted timepieces. Online since May 2003.
A few thoughts of my own:
1. I agree that sadly, too many are snobbish towards Japanese movements and watch technology. I personally feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the state of Seiko technology, going all the way back to the late 60s; Magic-Lever, automatic chronograph, vertical clutch chronos, etc. Seiko technology is most definitely not a step down imho.
2. I think that TAG Heuer was wise from a business standpoint to choose available technology and use it legally and properly.
3. I am not convinced that it was necessarily competitors who brought the recent concerns to light. While they (competitors) may be enjoying it, it was likely the small but very keen mechanical watch community whose discovered it. I have no evidence, that's just my guess based on past history.
4. It appears to have been a calculated mistake to not properly or completely disclose the original source of the movement. While not perhaps technically a lie, it does seem to have been intentionally disingenuous or misleading.
5. There's also a good chance that 99% of people who buy a TAG Heuer will have no idea what movement is in there watch nor even care. I think we in the watch "community" sometimes forgot that we are little more than a blip on the radar screen compared to the vast majority of watch buyers. I concede that this becomes less the case as one goes further up the food chain toward brands like Patek, Lange, Breguet, and the independents.
6. All that said, I applaud you for coming here and laying the story out for us, much appreciated!!! :-)
: Hello everyone on onthedash.com ! I'm JC, the CEO of TAG Heuer and
: first and foremost wish you all a very happy new year thanking
: you for your passion for Heuer and TAG Heuer.
: As indeed there has been a controversy on our new Calibre 1887
: movement, I owe you some direct and personal explainations so
: that as Heuer specialists and passionate lovers you have a
: direct understanding of what's going on.
: Like in 1968 when Jack Heuer luanched the Cal11 project teaming
: with several partners, we decided more than 3 years ago, instead
: of re-inventing the wheel (which we did on the Monaco V4,
: currently being launched with already 85 units delivered out of
: the 150 from the 150 years limited edition, to acquire some IP
: rights from Seiko Instruments Inc. in Japan as they had
: developped a remarkable construction never industrialized nor
: really developped in large quantities, an named TC78. This IP
: was very interesting as allowing us to bridge the gap between
: our modular 28.800 alt Dubois-Depraz Cal 11 and 12 (Monaco,
: Silverstone) and our integrated 36.000 alt Calibre 36 done on a
: Zenith El Primero base. The TC78 IP was matching virtually all
: our requirements in terms of architecture (integrated, column
: wheel, oscillating pinion), versatility, evolutivity rather than
: performances, reliability and potential for important
: productions at reasonable costs. We obviously could have somehow
: gone around that IP as many Brands would have done, coming up
: with a slightly different construction but that would have been
: highly unethical. Therefore we contacted SII and had the chance
: to find highly competent people just eager to see their great IP
: becoming a real volumetric high end movement as until then SII
: had only produced few thousands only but never really
: industrialized it.
: And so the work started which basically was like developping a new
: movement from scratch as our swiss team in La Chaux-de-Fonds,
: redesigned entirely the blueprints filing them legally in
: Switzerland, re-developped several key components, decided to
: move to a swiss assortment and changed the dimensions slightly
: enlarging the diameter but reducing the thickness. All plans
: have been developped in Switzerland as well as all the
: prototyping. Initial prototypes were powered by a SII assortment
: until we decided to change for a Nivarox FAR specific
: development as Nivarox FAR had some capacity to do that unlike
: in 2007 when we first asked them (at this time remember the
: market was up 15% a year an no Company had any capacity). In
: parallel we invested more than 20 mio $ in state of the art dry
: automatized milling technology allowing to produce internally in
: La Chaux-de-Fonds the main plate and bridges at speeds, costs
: and micron-precision unheard before in the industry (and being
: oil-free it's also greener than any other watch factory in
: Switzerland), getting close to 100% of pieces accepted without
: corrections ! we also have developped with another swiss company
: the 1st ever fully automatized jewels setting automat, capable
: to sort and pick-up the right stones under a micron-camera
: video-computerized control and setting the jewels on the plate
: and bridges again at an incredible speed with utmost precision
: and again very limited fall-off. We work with 22 suppliers,
: including 21 from Switzerland and SII from Japan supplying some
: screws, pionions and cut parts.
: The controversy was born out of two factors probably - fuelled by
: "smart" competitors perhaps - which I would summarize
: as follows:
: - we wrongly did not mention the IP in our Press Release and surely
: were too bullish in our "100% home-made" statements as
: indeed many parts are made by other swiss partners and not
: entirely by us. Said that we already do internally more than
: many so-called Manufactures !
: - we acquired a japanese IP which apparently is a sacred cow in our
: Industry ! Indeed, in the recent past several other high end
: Brands have acquired IPs from competitors to develop their own
: movements but this created no big issue as these competitors
: were either swiss or german. I have underestimated the emotional
: dimension of Japan for most swiss companies. Probably an
: american IP too would have created a lot of controversy too as
: well as wrongly american watches are snobbed by many swiss
: companies like japanese - as if some countries were allowed to
: have good watchmaking ideas (Switzerland, Germany) and others
: not (Japan, US...)? In a global world one has to take the best
: where it exists. So was the TC78 IP. And this is what we did.
: This does not prevent our movement to by by all means SWISS MADE
: Said that TAG Heuer is perfectly capable to come up with its own IP
: and patents when it's not about doing something conventional but
: really revolutionary like a Caliber S or the Monaco V4 not to
: mention the Caliber 360. But even if the V4 IP is TAG Heuer's
: and 100% swiss, still its belts are french............is it a
: sin ? I should ask to our detractors.
: Since that controversy the Swatch Group has disclosed its intention
: to stop supplying the Industry of movements and parts such as
: the assortments. It has created a lot of buzz, at least in
: Switzerland. We read the newspapers like anyone and take good
: note, assessing scenarii and options should it materialize as
: Swatch Group claims they will do it. Today we are one of the
: major Clients of ETA in terms of mechanical movements but also
: hands and we are very happy with their quality, service and
: customer-focus. Now if they want to stop we'll find some other
: ideas but it would be a pity as we ever worked with them, at
: least since the early 1980's and are probably one of their
: oldest, largest and most loyal Customer over the last 25 years.
: We have gone thru 150 years of history and nothing will prevent
: us to write another 150 years anyhow. So let's wait and see.
: You'll be amazed by the Caliber 1887 and judge it by yourselves.
: Now, a bet ? In which series will TAG Heuer launch it in Basel
: 2010 ?
: Best regards and Happy new year - JC Babin