Throughout the history of watchmaking, the search for innovation has always been never-ending. And it’s no different in modern horology. All about building a better timepiece that’s lighter, stronger, more resistant to shocks, vibrations, gravity, temperature fluctuations and magnetism, watchmakers are achieving new levels of precision never seen before through meaningful innovations aimed to make users’ lives easier or incorporating new creative complications meant to surprise and enchant us. Here are two brands introducing revolutionary technology and research, which are set to disrupt the status quo.
Tag Heuer Carrera Caliber Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph
A major development comes courtesy of Tag Heuer, which has invented and produced in-house a patented world-premiere technology that promises to drastically improve overall watch performance: a carbon-composite hairspring materialized from a gas atom by atom and fitted into the Heuer 02T chronometer-certified chronograph tourbillon manufacture movement. Replacing the more familiar Elinvar and silicon versions, the low-density, lightweight hairspring is entirely anti-magnetic and almost completely unaffected by gravity and shock. Tested up to 5G, it remained undamaged, whereas metal hairsprings bent and silicon ones broke. Its limitless possibilities in geometry design allow for perfect concentric oscillations, thereby increasing timekeeping precision. It makes life easier for the watchmaker as well since the hairspring is made with the collet already attached, meaning a quicker assembly process, as there is no need for a complicated operation to connect it to the balance wheel axis. Best of all, this hairspring technology isn’t a prototype but can be rolled out in large numbers, demonstrating Tag Heuer’s industrial independence, with the Tourbillon Nanograph being just the beginning. The nanoscopic (one million times smaller than a millimeter) hexagonal pattern of the hairspring’s carbon-composite material is reproduced in the watch design with hexagon decorations on the oscillating mass and the movement plate visible through an open-worked dial.
Hermès Arceau L’Heure de la Lune
Known for its unusual and poetic time indications, Hermès presents a double moonphase complication like nothing ever seen in watchmaking. Instead of the moon orbiting around the dial, the conventional display has been inversed as two mother-of-pearl moons remain stationary while being topped by a pair of floating lacquered discs that rotate around an aventurine or meteorite dial (each version is limited to 100 numbered pieces) once every 59 days. One disc shows the hours and minutes, and the other the date, concealing and revealing the moons in turn to display the current moonphase in both the southern and northern hemispheres at once. Counter-intuitively, the southern hemisphere moon is placed at 12 o’clock, and the northern hemisphere one at six o’clock. Housed in a 43-mm white gold case, the timepiece is powered by the Hermès H1837 manufacture caliber fitted with a 117-component, 38-mm module specially-developed by renowned movement constructor Jean-François Mojon, founder of Chronode, known for having worked with brands like MB&F and Harry Winston. The module controls the moonphase display via a patented planetary gear system that shifts the two discs around 1/59th of the dial daily, advancing at 2.30am so as not to place too much stress on the movement at midnight when the hour, minute and date hands all move simultaneously. Additionally, since the date and moonphase are synchronized, they can be adjusted at the same time – rarely seen in a moonphase complication.