Just a little under a year ago TAG Heuer were breathlessly announcing the Mikrotimer Flying 1000, capable of measuring time to 1/1000th of a second. But that was so last year.
Now in concept form, we have the TAG Heuer Mikrogirder 2000 chronograph. The TAG Heuer boffins have halved the timing capability to 1/2000th of a second or put another way 5/10,00th of a second.
This is fast enough to make the blink of an eye seem like a hopelessly long and drawn out affair.
But perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the new Mikrogirder is that it accomplishes this without the use of a balance wheel or the pendulum concept.
7,200,000 beats per hour
The movement developed for the Mikrogirder uses a vibrating linear oscillator (sounds a bit like quartz) to attain an incredible pace of 7,200,000 beats per hour. It vibrates isochronously at a very small angle, as opposed to a traditional watch, which vibrates at an angle of up to 320 degrees.
Whatever the angle, at this speed all you are likely to hear is a constant whirr of activity from the timepiece.
To get an understanding of how fast this is, bear in mind that the typical watch movement beats at 28,800 beats per hour.
High speed on demand
The watch works in such a way that there is no possibility of interference between normal speed and high speed, so there is better precision and accuracy.
The power reserve has been improved too, and TAG Heuer claim wear and tear has been dramatically reduced, because high speed is on demand rather than being constantly engaged.
The fractions of seconds passing by are marked out to their decimal places along the outer ring of the dial, making even the most minute timings easy to read.
Asymetric case design
The Mikrogirder 2000 does look quite a bit like last year's Mikrotimer, but distinguishes itself with a "bullhead" placement of the crown and chronograph pushers. The placement of the crown at 12 o’clock is inspired by the 1/100th of a second Heuer stopwatches of the 1920s.
The unconventional shape and wide opening makes for easier reading, while the dial cut out allows sight of the beam/girder regulator system at work.
Hopefully TAG Heuer will work on the looks a little before it reaches the market. The styling has definitely taken a back seat to high speed functionality.
And, as has been observed, while these undoubted technological advancements might impress other watchmakers, cool iconic design is ultimately what will impress the every day punter.