HEUER Collector Summit Report 3 - The Factories

Sep 26, 2016,09:28 AM
 


#HEUERCOLLECTORSUMMIT




TAG Heuer Chevenez site


Dear friends,

We have now reached the part where opinions diverge.
On one hand, the following photo-essay about the manufacturing sites of TAG Heuer will be fascinating to a group of you. You will be in an ecstatic haze of oil, grease and hot metal given a working by powerful machinery and sweaty workers in uniform (mmm...mmm).

The other half will be disinterested because watch collecting is not all about turning cogs and clicking pinions. It may be about art, design and the stories behind the brand. For those, I apologise as we are going to get a lot of oil, grease and hot metal!




TAG Heuer La Chaux-de-Fonds


La Chaux-de-Fonds

We start again at the La Chaux-de-Fonds site where Design, Prototyping and Testing are situated. More than 60 tests of precision, quality and reliability are done. In part 2 of this report, we have already seen the Design and Prototyping departments. Now, off to QC and Testing we go...




Final Assembly




Proofmaster


As a sportive brand, TAG Heuer places emphasis on reliability of form and function. They really hate watch returns because "Time means Money" (sic). "Do it Once, Do it Right" seems to be the mantra. To this end, they have even invented their own Case Air Pressure Resistance Test - Proofmaster. The idea behind this is a quick test of case resistance to air pressure. If the assembled watch cannot pass this test, no time is wasted going for the official water overpressure test.


Water Overpressure Test




Water Overpressure Test




Water Overpressure Test




Water Overpressure Test


They test under tropical climate conditions, shocks, resistance to extreme sports, sunlight and salt water resistance.

The pendulum weight whack test (my words) is still in use with the net to catch the hurtling watch!




Pendulum accelerometer


Shake, Rattle and Roll !




Testing


Cases and Bracelets are tested by these machines that simulate a year of stretch wear-and-tear in one day.

The bracelets are tested for many days....er...years.




Testing Bracelets




Testing Case Bracelets


Shake and Rattle, baby!






Tumbler

There is even a tumbler test that simulates a watch being thrown around in a ladies' handbag!



Cornol




TAG Heuer Cornol site




Aurelian Le Bigot

TAG Heuer's case making facilities are in Cornol. We met Aurelian Le Bigot, Director of Case & Movements Manufacture, who explained the processes to us.




Collectors


This factory was completely upgraded and modernised in 2015 so most of the machinery was bright and shiny. More importantly, the cases are now good enough to be supplied to other brands.

Cases are stamped repeatedly from steel or gold through precision dies. Computer controlled milling and drilling machines sculpt material to allow assembly of case, crown, caseback, crystal and bezel.




Stamping




Metal stamping




Cases Stamped




Case Die




Stock dies




Tools




Tools




Cleaning




Varnish Booth

The components are painted with coloured varnish to distinguish areas to be ground and polished with different finishes.






De-burring and Lapping




Lapping








Polishing




Polishing




Polishing




Finishing


You never know what to expect in Swiss factories.


This is one of the biggest watches that I have seen.






Big Watch


Cornol factory assembles water resistant, whole cases with pushers, crowns and crystal, which are supplied ready for final movement assembly.






Case Assembly




3rd party Customer casing




3rd party Customer Cases




Colllector




Vintage vs Modern




Quality is a Lonely Job





Chevenez




TAG Heuer Chevenez site


TAG Heuer movements are made in Chevenez in a new eco-friendly building.
Metal blanks, bridges and mainplates are manufactured in the facility. The milling machines are getting smaller in footprint and more precise.




CNC Milling





CNC Milling




Blanks and Mainplate




Mainplates




Bridges


Mundane tasks like jewel-setting and post-positioning are now automated; a machine never forgets a jewel or post.

The 320 components of Calibre 1887 and Heuer-01 movements are assembled on a semi-automated line.



Chevenez




Chevenez





Quality Control with 60 tests ensure low returns.





QC




QC




QC


Finally, I leave you with a teaser image of a special watch....




Teaser watch


Regards,

MTF


READ MORE in subsequent parts of this Report.... 


CLICK the following links for other parts of HEUER COLLECTOR SUMMIT Report:

HEUER Collector Summit Report 1 - Vintage Collectors and Jack Heuer

HEUER Collector Summit Report 2 - New Autavia Reveal 




More posts: Autavia

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Comments: view entire thread

 

Thanks a lot MTF! Very VERY interesting,

 
 By: MCG : September 26th, 2016-09:39
especially also the 3. party cases, that they manufacture, easy to see what 3. party gave the order... ;-)

I particularly love all the "torture" machines

 
 By: Alkiro1 : September 26th, 2016-09:41
Thank you for your report. Best wishes Alkiro

Look what the machines looked like 13 years ago

 
 By: MTF : September 26th, 2016-16:33
How technology has changed since 2003. Early robot movement assembly 2003 CNC Milling 2003 Machining 2003 CNC Milling 2003 Regards, MTF ...  

Great report!

 
 By: Adamska : September 26th, 2016-11:35
Thanks for the effort. Cheers, Filip

Regarding the date, why is the 8 sideways?

 
 By: cazalea : September 26th, 2016-12:08
Hi MTF, Is there only one prototype watch? It seems that with all that equipment they could have had a roomful of pieces to show that worked. I can\'t believe one guy said "we didn\'t have a date ring with the correct orientation" -- that doesn\'t make an... 

Yes there was only one prototype for show

 
 By: MTF : September 26th, 2016-12:16
The new design integrating the date window into the sub-dial requires a special sized date disc. The only date discs of that size available were from a different watch with orientation of date window at 3 o'clock position. The rotor was also missing becau... 

Thanks Melvyn

 
 By: 41northpole : September 26th, 2016-15:28
Looks like the whole thing was a blast. I love this machinery as much as the parts they make Cheers Tim

QC seems to play a pivotal role

 
 By: piccolochimico (aka dsgalaxy1) : September 27th, 2016-02:08
I'm still in love with the new and affordable turbo. has anybody checked its performances?

Great report, Melvyn!

 
 By: JToddH : September 27th, 2016-04:43
Thank you for taking us along. I was surprised to see them assembling Spirit of Big Bang cases. Good to see them working with their corporate cousins.