Earlier in the month of June this year, it was quite the privilege of ours to have not one — but two Carrera Heuer-02Ts in the office — to basically hangout with. It was for us, extremely apt, because Wei Koh, Revolution’s founder and editorial director was just fresh off of having conducted a monumental three-part interview with TAG Heuer’s CEO — Mr. Jean Claude Biver. Watch the series of videos here: part 1, part 2 and part 3.
In part one of the interview, Mr. Biver and Wei start off taking about how, from the get go, at Basel this year — there has been a running theme in the industry, which also in turn happens to be a lesson that the industry is having to learn in its stride given its present economic climate. It is a theme that Mr. Biver himself has spoken about with the greatest of urgency since day one at Basel.
The word that best describes this theme that I speak of is: Value. In Mr. Bivers words, the challenge in 2016 is to continue to create great products, which bear “a perceived value that is twice its price.”
He continues, “this is a new mentality; this is the new way to think. People are looking now for — value, value, value.” In the time that Mr. Biver has been at the helm of TAG Heuer, there has perhaps been no greater demonstration of this philosophy of his than the Carrera Heuer-02T.
The Carrera Heuer-02T was first announced in 2015, at Basel, with one image for impression’s sake and a few words from TAG Heuer outlining its intention with the watch. Now, mind you these were days long before the present economic climate had hit. Then you consider the time prior to the announcement in 2015 that TAG Heuer must have spent in order to bring the Carrera Heuer-02T to fruition — and then we are able to comprehend what an immense man of foresight, Mr. Biver is.
Because the Carrera Heuer-02T, therefore, wasn’t created as a solution hoping to capitalize on the market in troubled times, but really with messianic purpose to bring to market a product that redefines what we understand to mean when the word “value” is uttered.
As you will discover in the video interview, Mr. Biver shares very candidly that when he charged the TAG Heuer development team to create a tourbillon watch — never mind a tourbillon chronograph — the team came back to him saying that there was simply no way they could create a tourbillon watch for under 45,000 CHF.
It was a very valid response because it is generally the norm in how much it takes to create a, basic, tourbillon timepiece. But on hindsight, we know now that Mr. Biver was challenging the team to think out of the norm and, therefore, create a tourbillon watch that, as a result of how they were producing it — would cost half of what its perceived value is.
Announced at Basel 2015 (that’s right, they announced the price first in 2015) the Carrera Heuer-02T, of course, bears the astounding starting price tag of 14,900 CHF. That’s not even half of 45,000 CHF — moreover, the Carrera Heuer-02T is not just a tourbillon watch but a COSC certified, tourbillon chronograph.
There’s a bit of math here, and it may be that it’s all sounding like I’m listing dumb facts. But the combination of all these facts will simply blow your mind when you have the watch on your wrist. Simply because — all of the emotions that one hopes to experience when donning a tourbillon watch — are all present here.
At this point you attain an odd sort of enlightenment, and suddenly realize that it doesn’t matter how much the watch does cost — but what matters is how much it doesn’t cost. How is it that TAG Heuer has managed to go against its own understanding of how much a tourbillon watch should cost?
It would appear, again as explained very animatedly by Mr. Biver in his chat with Wei, TAG Heuer’s not necessarily found some magical new tourbillon that’s easier and costs lesser to produce, but rather it is the process of producing the timepiece that was their point of innovation.
It seems that TAG Heuer’s created a process of producing the various parts necessary to assemble the Carrera Heuer-02T to such a point of precision that the overall cost of producing the watch has come down to an incredible position. And mind you that with all of that said — fitting, assembly and adjustment work on the watch is still, in the true spirit of Swiss watchmaking, performed by hand.
As you take time to wear the Carrera Heuer-02T, you will without doubt recognize that TAG Heuer has managed this feat with ZERO compromise made to the build quality of the watch, and to the point that the watch stood up to the challenge of the COSC certification. Inspect its finer aspects, for example the point of focus, the watch’s tourbillon and its carbon top section and titanium middle components, which all bear the quality and level of finish that is expected of the TAG Heuer name.
There in, I implore you, let’s stop speaking about how little the Carrera Heuer-02T does cost and instead focus on how much this incredible accomplishment of horology should cost — but does not.