TAG Heuer continues to use its chronograph tourbillon watch to showcase groundbreaking moves, this time with lab-grown diamonds.
The TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma offers a new answer to an old question in watchmaking: what are diamonds good for, and are they relevant for anything other than decorative arts? At Watches & Wonders 2022 in Geneva, TAG Heuer proposed radical and functional uses for diamonds that remind us that the making of watches and jewellery go hand-in-hand. We thought this so important that we included it in our daily highlights reel.
While plenty of watchmakers suggest diamond-set crowns, only TAG Heuer proposes an entire crown in diamond. As noted in our earlier story, TAG Heuer is using lab-grown diamonds here so there is no question of challenging traditional jewellery techniques and sensibilities. That is not really the message behind the Carrera Plasma Tourbillon Nanograph Diamant d’Avant-garde, to use its full name. To sum it up briefly, this is the same chronograph and tourbillon that has been in the collection for a few years. So nothing new in the movement, although there is a twist there.
We think the Carrera Plasma 44mm (limited to an unspecified number) edition in anodised aluminium with steel pushers is a demonstration of TAG Heuer’s material science capabilities, in a way that is clearly different to what’s going on at Hublot, Bulgari and Zenith. Proposing a crown in diamond is very brave indeed, considering that the crown is subject to all kinds of pressures and dangers. Similarly, the diamond bed that serves as the dial is also a courageous demonstration, given that such a structure has to be grown, much like other diamond and carbon structures. Here we also find an intriguing conflict because some sources (Hodinkee) say this is synthetic diamond dust applied to a brass base while others (Monochrome and WatchesbySJX) agree with our description. Let the sparks fly, we suppose.
Back to business, the LVMH brands do have a certain yen for material experimentation, and TAG Heuer has demonstrated certain ambitions in carbon, which of course is directly linked with diamond. This brings us to the aforementioned twist as the hairspring here is made of a carbon composite — those of you who recall the isograph will know the story there. Basically it has been improved and made more reliable, and is currently only in use in the Heuer02T calibres. The Carrera Plasma introduces another carbon touch — the tourbillon cage — and this keeps the entire mechanism light.
- READ MORE: Watches and Wonders 2022 Day 1 Highlights
The combination of form and function in the Carrera Plasma as it relates to diamonds is far from lightweight. We expect to hear more about this development, which involved a number of third party specialists, in the years to come. Oh yes, and while the Heur02T debuted as the most accessibly priced super complication in the world, the Carrera Plasma takes the movement back to the stratosphere. We have the price as CHF350,000 (US$375,000), and a few other prominent sites (listed above) agree.