|Base Caliber||Seiko TC78|
|Movement Type||Automatic, self-winding mechanical|
|Power Reserve||50 hours (40hrs with chronograph running)|
|Vibrations Per Hour||28,800 bph, 4 Hz
|Functions||Central hours; central minutes; central chronograph seconds; small running seconds subdial at 9:00; 30 minutes chronograph counter at 12:00; 12 hours chrono counter at 6:00; date at 3:00 or 6:00|
|Country of Manufacture||Switzerland, Swiss made|
|Known Models||See below|
The TAG Heuer caliber 1887 is an automatic column wheel chronograph watch movement with 39 jewels and a beat rate of 28,800 vph. This caliber was announced in 2009, and officially released in Carrera 1887 Chronograph watches in 2010.
In TAG Heuer’s own words:
“The Calibre 1887 is an integrated column-wheel watch movement that vibrates 28,800 times per hour and has a 50-hour power reserve. Among its 320 components, is an audaciously re-engineered version of its inspiration, the brand’s 1887-patented oscillating pinion, along with a matching blue column wheel. The oscillating pinion, patented in 1887 by Edouard Heuer, works in tandem with the column wheel, in much the same way as an automobile transmission. The column wheel, which coordinates the start, stop and return-to-zero functions of the chronograph hand, functions like a gearbox. The oscillating pinion works like a clutch.” -source: http://baselworld.tagheuer.com/en/automatic-movement
Some of the topics covered in this caliber listing:
The TAG 1887 stirred up one of the most memorable caliber controversies ever. When it was launched at Baselworld in 2013, TAG was heavily marketing the Cal. 1887 as an in-house movement, only for the watch community to ultimately find out that it was based on an existing Seiko platform that was designed and patented in 1997. Caliber Corner, in its current format, did not exist at that time to present factual information or dispel misinformation.
“Inside ticks the famous CALIBRE 1887, TAG Heuer’s first movement built in-house. Manufactured after 4 years of intensive R&D; in 2011 to mark the brand’s 150th anniversary, the integrated column-wheel chronograph movement contains 320 parts. It is a radical re-engineering of one of Edouard Heuer’s greatest contributions to watchmaking: the oscillating pinion of 1887.” -source: http://baselworld.tagheuer.com/en/concept/tag-heuer-carrera-carbon-calibre-1887-concept-chronograph
The 1887 is actually based on a Seiko Instruments TC78 (TC 78) framework, which is basically a non-Seiko branded caliber 6S78 (introduced in 1999 and found in the Credor Phoenix). You may see it mentioned that the 1887 is based on the Seiko 6S37, but the 6S37 is different in that is has a power reserve indicator located on the dial between 2:00 and 3:00. BTW – This isn’t the first time a Seiko platform was used for a Swiss movement: see the Soprod caliber A10.
Here, allow the CEO of TAG Heuer (2009) to explain it:
“Hi, I’m J.C. Babin the CEO of TAG Heuer, and YES, the new Caliber 1887 is based on a SII TC78 platform developped [sic] and patented in 1997 (filing) and eversince [sic] produced in very limited quantities for Junghans and Seiko watches in Japan. The caliber we propose and announced last week in London is a major evolution of this platform as even if the overall construction may look similar at first glance, the TAG Heuer movement is much different in terms of components, size and eventually performances, not to mention it’s manufactured in Switzerland in TAG Heuer workshops of Cornol (Cortech – a company owned by TAG Heuer and already producing TAG Heuer and Zenith cases) and La Chaux-de-Fonds (where we have also the HQs and where we added 30.000 sq feet more last year for movements assembling and other manufacturig [sic] projects).
- Dimensions: it’s broader (29.3 mm vs 28 mm) and thinner (7.13 mm vs 7.27 mm)
- Therefore the plate, bridges and oscillating mass have been significantly modified to allow this evolution
- Its assortment is a swiss [sic] asortment [sic] specifically developped [sic] by Nivarox and allowing to improve further accuracy and shocks resistancy [sic]
- New assortment centring [sic] of the balance wheel also specifically developped [sic] by KIF, a leading swiss expert company in balance wheels centrings [sic]
- Change and development of a new swiss [sic] engineered canon pinion to increase time-setting overtime reliability
- Redesign of the fixing of ball bearings of the mass to contribute reducing the thickness
- Adjustements [sic] to pass the famous “60 TAG Heuer torture tests” in terms of accuracy, reliability, thermical and physical shocks resistancy [sic], chemical agressions [sic] etc….
We have today already 45 TAG Heuer people working full time on that project in Switzerland and work with 21 other suppliers for additional parts, most being swiss. Total investment is several tenth of mio [sic] USD.
I would therefore quality that movement as really in-house and manufactured by TAG Heuer even though the original IP has been acquired from SII. Please note that the original SII Caliber has always been praised by watches experts. …” –source
Where’s the controversy?
The issue many collectors had with the 1887 wasn’t the fact that it was a Seiko, it was more about the manner that TAG positioned the Calibre 1887 as being exclusively developed by TAG Heuer. If the brand would have been more transparent about the origins of the movement and basis for the design, then perhaps the watch community would have embraced it – but many felt mislead. Although, it’s important to remember that at time, Seiko was not as respected in many Western markets as it is today. If you are new to watches today, it maybe hard for you to believe that not long ago Seiko was a brand that other collectors scoffed at. Even when Grand Seiko made its way to the states, it took a lot of effort to show watch buyers the value the brand offered.
It’s also interesting to note that this was during a time in the watch industry when there was a scramble for brands to come up with their own in-house options, especially after scares that Swatch Group would eventually no longer be selling ETA movements to watch brands outside of their own conglomerate.
Instead of developing a 100% in-house movement from scratch, TAG Heuer searched for a movement that they could rework and call their own. Since the watch industry never really defined what is and isn’t an “in-house movement”, brands like TAG could get away with behavior like this, while spinning the backstory as much as possible to dizzy consumers to believe a manufacture movement or movement designed in another country by another brand, was in-house. Some brands still pull this trick off today, and some watch journalists still play into it… while consumers buy into it.
The fact that Seiko was utilized an oscillating pinion technology invented by Edouard Heuer in 18887 (patents would have been long expired), made the TC78 more desirable for TAG than other options available. Ah, the oscillating pinion! The part that made it possible for TAG to plaster bold claims (such as the one seen at the bottom of the screenshot below) all over their marketing material:
“The in-house movement that re-engineers one of Edouard Heuer’s greatest contributions to watchmaking: the oscillating pinion of 1887.”
TAG Heuer 1887 Marketing, Baselworld 2013:
So it is really an in-house movement?
No, not really. It’s more of an “out-house movement” with in-house elements, or a pseudo in-house movement. It’s not a manufacture movement because TAG Heuer produces it themselves, not Seiko for TAG. Perhaps it should more accurately be referred to as a clone movement, a clone evolution, or a collab. Either way, the TAG Heuer caliber 1887 is a movement produced by TAG Heuer, based off of the Seiko caliber TC78.
Does TAG still call it an in-house movement?
Yes, to this day, TAG Heuer does still label the Calibre 1887 movement as an in-house movement on their official site.
“In 2010, TAG Heuer released its first in-house chronograph movement, the Calibre 1887. The Calibre 1887 is an integrated movement, featuring a column wheel and the same style of oscillating pinion that Heuer had patented in 1887. The Calibre 1887 movement powered a new generation of TAG Heuer Carrera chronographs, and would serve as the basis for the Heuer 01 in-house movement.” –source
Did other watches use the TC78?
Aside from Seiko using the TC78 as the Seiko branded 6S78, brands such as Junghans (caliber J890) have also featured movements based on the 6S family.
TAG 1887 VS Seiko 6S78 (TC78):
Other than obvious elements such as the finishing and branding on the rotor, there are a few noteworthy differences between the two movements.
The anti-shock device is different: The TAG uses a Swiss made KIF shock system and the Seiko uses their own Diaflex system.
The diameter and thickness are different:
|TAG Heuer 1887||Seiko 6S78|
|Height||7.13mm thick||7.27mm thick|
The jewel count is different: TAG 1887 has 39 jewels, the Seiko has 34 jewels.
The TAG Heuer 1887 was discontinued. It is no longer found in any watches in the TH catalog. This movement has since been replaced by the Heuer 01 and Heuer 02.
Examples of watches with this movement:
The 1887 has been featured in at least this short list of watches:
- TAG Heuer Carrera Racing Chronograph (CAR2A80.FC6237)
- TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 41mm (CAR2115.BA0724)
- TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph 43mm (CAR2A10.BA0799)
- TAG Heuer Carrera Heritage Chronograph (CAR2114.BA0724)
The pictures below are of a TAG calibre 1887 found in a Carrera model CAR2012-0.
- Read more: TAG Heuer Shoots Itself In the Foot on TAG Heuer Caliber 1887 Launch
- Read more: Tag Heuer caliber 1887 info on tagheuer.com
- Tag Heuer Calibre 1887 with Japanese DNA Review