Tag Heuer Calibre 12

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Picture of Tag Heuer Calibre 12 Mechanism

Tag Heuer Calibre 12 is a complex and precise contemporary automatic modular chronograph movement manufactured by Tag Heuer. The Calibre 12 available these days with the brand’s bestselling designs is actually a reinterpretation of the iconic Heuer “Chronomatic” Calibre 12 created in 1969.

Back in the’ 60s every important watch company was determined to develop the world’s first automatic chronograph. This tight competition between successful watchmakers ended in 1969 when Heuer launched its “Calibre 12” movement which was developed in partnership with Breitling, Büren, Hamilton and movement producer Dubois-Depraz.  In 2009, the trend of vintage inspired sports watches determined Tag Heuer to recreate the vintage Calibre 12 by using modern novelties.

Even though the original Calibre 12 was advertised as a Tag Heuer in-house movement, this movement wasn’t an exclusive result of the brand’s watchmaking skills. The calibre had an ETA or Sellita ebauche with a Dubois-Depraz module. At that time, the mechanism had nothing to do with the original Chronomatic. Still, the brand used the launch of its Calibre 12 as a promotional advantage and the movement’s rotor is even marked with “Calibre 12” and the “Heuer” name.

The fact that the winding crown of the modern Calibre 12 is positioned on the right side of the case shows that the watch is not a Chronomatic. Similarly to the initial Calibre 12, the modern Calibre 12 is a modular movement and has a certified ebauche which sets in motion the chronograph module. The old Chronomatic Calibre 12 had a Buren 1281 with a Dubois-Depraz 8510 module. As none of these components was available after 2000, Tag Heuer decided to use on the contemporary Calibre 12 a common Sellita SW 300 or ETA 2892-A2 base with a redesigned Dubois-Depraz 2008 chronograph module. The components used on the new Calibre 12 make the movement very similar to ETA 2894-based TAG Heuer Calibre 17. Both of these calibres use a 2892 base.

The original Calibre 12 had the winding crown on the left side of the case, but the current version has it on the right side along with the chronograph buttons. Another significant difference between the initial Calibre 12 and the modern one is the balance frequency. The new movement operates at 28,800 A/h rather than the 21,600 A/h of the old one.

The dial layout represents a major change from the vintage Calibre 12 timepieces. On the classic version the chronograph hours were located on the left and the chronograph minutes on the right whereas the new one has just the chronograph minutes on the left and running seconds on the right.

The Swiss made Tag Heuer Calibre 12 is an exceptional automatic calibre which features modern and useful complications. With a 30 mm diameter, 59 rubies and a rapid date correction, this mechanism impresses its owner with superior precision.

Besides the 40 hours power reserve, the 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz) balance frequency sets the Calibre 12 as one of the most important movements offered by Tag Heuer. Among its most important functions are accurate time telling, a date window, a 30 minutes chronograph counter and a central 60 seconds chronograph.

The exquisite Tag Heuer Calibre 12 has its open-work oscillating mass decorated with “Côtes de Genève” patterns and features the defining engravings “TAG Heuer — Calibre 12 — Swiss Made”.

Tag Heuer’s success and luxury identity is closely connected with the development of the Calibre 12, an exceptional automatic movement that was launched in a time when the watches market was in need of functional innovations. Now, after almost half a century it still is one of the most famous mechanism in history.


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