The 12th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève was held recently, and TAG Heuer took home the grand prize. The top award at the competition is the “Aiguille d’Or” (“Golden Needle”), and the watch that won it for TAG Heuer might represent a new age in the world of watchmaking.
What makes the Mikrogirder so special? With this timepiece, TAG Heuer has almost completely reinvented the watch. Watches have evolved over the years, but for centuries every mechanical watch, no matter how simple or complex, at least needed a balance wheel and a hairspring. Instead, a new system of beams and girders powers a linear oscillator (instead of a spring) that makes far smaller oscillations than a hairspring does. As a result of this change, the frequency is increased, and by no small measure. Most watches that use a balance wheel have a frequency of about 28,800. The Mikrogirder oscillates exactly 250 times faster than that. This makes the watch far more precise than any other watch. It is accurate to 5/10,000 of a second!
Although this is easily the most exciting feature of the watch its other features are worth a look. First of all, the watch doesn’t always operate at such a high frequency. That would wear it out too much. Instead, it has two chains that allow it a dual frequency so that you only have to use the high frequency when you use the chronograph (or just when you want to see it action!). The chronograph has small indicator for sixty seconds at 12 o’clock, a larger one for hundredths of second, and a big blue hand mounted at the center that indicates thousandths and ten-thousandths of a second on a ring around the outside of the minute markers and spins around the dial 20 times per second. The dial is anthracite, and gives the watch a vintage look, which is almost ironic considering the technology inside.
With this whole new cutting-edge watch technology, the future of mechanical watches is looking good. As watchmakers improve upon this new movement, we will be seeing watches of incredible accuracy, approaching perfection. Considering this, it’s no wonder the judges at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève unanimously chose this the Mikrogirder as the best watch of 2012.