The iconic Carrera turns 55 this year and to mark this milestone, TAG Heuer has launched a new limited edition chronograph tourbillon with an exclusive new chronometric certification. The famous Besançon Observatory in France certifies the new Carrera “Tête de Vipère” Chronograph Tourbillon Chronometer.
What is the "Tête de Vipère" (French for viper’s head) stamp? The French Observatory – which was known for assessing and rating Swiss timepieces – first applied this exclusive stamp to a chronometer in 1897. Back in the 18th century, as marine navigation used mechanical timepieces to aid navigation, it was important for marine chronometers to be extremely accurate. Various astronomical observatories across Europe like the Neuchatel Observatory, Geneva Observatory, Besançon and Kew tested timepieces for accuracy.
The "Tête de Vipère" certification was abandoned in the 1970s during the Quartz Crisis but was revived in 2006. Unlike COSC certification, which applies only to the movement, the French observatory certifies the watch as a whole.
Since its return, the Viper’s Head stamp has only been seen only on 500 pieces. To obtain this certificate, each fully assembled watch undergoes a protocol involving 16 days of testing, in five different positions at three different temperatures.
This new chronograph uses a 45 mm wide blue ceramic case with a mix of polished, brushed and bead-blasted finishes. It is fitted with a ceramic bezel and a see-through caseback.
Like the COSC-certified TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T, which when launched two years ago was the most affordable Swiss tourbillon in the market ($15,000 approx), the "Tête de Vipère" version also has a skeleton dial. The black skeleton dial has two rhodium-plated chronograph counters, a minutes counter at 3 o'clock and an hour counter at 9. The blue tourbillon is visible at 6 o’ clock. The hour indexes and hands are rhodium plated with blue SuperLuminova and black SuperLuminova respectively.
Flip the watch over to see what the fuss is about. The "Tête de Vipère" stamp has been applied to the bridge of the in-house Heuer-02T Caliber, a 4 Hz movement with a power reserve of 6 days and a column wheel chronograph. The watch is paired with a black alligator strap, sewn onto rubber with blue stitching. It is limited to 155 pieces. The price? CHF19,900 ($21,015 or approx. AED77,170).