Ultra-exclusive Chronograph by TAG Heuer and Mercedes-Benz
By Mike Hanlon
One of the most exclusive commemorative timepieces in the world has been created to celebrate the launch of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren super sports car. To be eligible to buy the as-yet unpriced TAG Heuer SLR Chronograph, you must OWN a US$400,000 McLaren SLR. Only 3500 McLarens will be made over the seven year production run.
The SLR Chronograph by TAG Heuer, like the high-performance, 200-mph, ultra-luxury sports car that inspired it, is an audacious creation, at the avant-garde of high technology and design, yet with the look and allure of a true classic.
The direct result of TAG Heuer's historic relationship with McLaren Mercedes, the SLR Chronograph reflects the values common to both the brand and the team: passion, performance and sporting prestige. Like the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, the SLR chronograph combines a unique mechanical movement together with a daring inspiring design.
TAG Heuer and Team McLaren Mercedes: A Successful Partnership
Since 1985, TAG Heuer has had a strong relationship with the Formula 1 team, creating not only one of the longest-running associations between a leading racing team and a luxury company in the history of Formula One, but also one of the most successful: six Constructors' World Championship titles, eight Drivers' titles (three with Alain Prost in 1985, 1986 and 1989, three with Ayrton Senna in 1988, 1990 and 1991 and two with Mika Häkkinen in 1998 and 1999).
The winning relationship goes back earlier still, to 1955, when Juan-Manual Fangio drove the original Mercedes-Benz SLR through the tight hairpin bends of one of the most gruelling road races in the history of motorsport: the 1000-mile Mille Miglia. During this race and all others, Fangio wore on his wrist, like every F1 World Champion since, a TAG Heuer, then named Heuer, timepiece.
Today, the TAG Heuer/McLaren Mercedes partnership is stronger than ever. All McLaren Mercedes cars carry TAG Heuer technology, not just in F1 but at all professional levels of the sport. McLaren Mercedes drivers and TAG Heuer Brand Ambassadors Kimi Räikkönen and David Coulthard, like their predecessors Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, and Mika Häkkinen, endorse TAG Heuer timepieces at every race or testing session. They also participate actively in the design and development of new TAG Heuer watches and functionalities.
In 2004 and to celebrate 20 years of partnership, TAG Heuer has renewed and extended its partnership with Team West McLaren Mercedes and its drivers, Kimi Raïkkönen and David Coulthard, becoming the team's Corporate Partner and Official Timekeeper. The idea for the chronograph was conceived in the F1 paddock during an encounter between TAG Heuer CEO and President Jean-Christophe Babin and the director of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Project, Klaus Nesser.
The SLR limited-edition Chronograph by TAG Heuer
Fluid lines, high end internally-developed architecture, unconventional styling, leading-edge ergonomic design: the SLR chronograph, like the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren to which it pays tribute, is at the forefront of design. Exclusively designed for Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren owners, the daring chronograph was designed and developed by TAG Heuer product development teams in Chaux-de- Fonds, together with the Geneva watchmaker, Jean-François Ruchonnet.
It draws on the unique design acumen of the world's most prestigious luxury-car manufacturer and the engineering and horological savoir-faire of the world's most prestigious maker of luxury sports watches. The two logos - the TAG Heuer shield and the star of Mercedes-Benz - grace the black dial, which looks like a sports car dashboard. The two SLR "gill" patterns stamped at 3 o'clock pay homage to the car's signature side-mounted exhausts, an echo of the 1950s SLRS.
Another unique touch is the off-centred date counter at 7:30. Under the hood lies the peerless Calibre 36 automatic movement. Like the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren's hand-built, supercharged 626-hp V8 engine, this is an exceptional source of power. The only 1/10 of a second automatic chronograph, beating 36,000 times a second, it is the standard-bearer of TAG Heuer's watchmaking tradition. Yet it also represents an exciting new innovation, unique to the SLR Chronograph: the Calibre 36 has been specially outfitted by TAG Heuer watchmakers with a regulator that provides the TAG Heuer SLR's dial the look and utility of a sports-car dashboard, with individual gauges for each function. All of which can be read simultaneously. Therefore it's name: Calibre 36 Regulator
For reading the time, the hour hand has been shifted to the counter at 12 o'clock, while the hand at the center of the dial displays minutes and the counter at 9 o'clock displays seconds. For chronograph functions, the 6 o'clock counter displays hours, the 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock displays minutes and seconds sweep by on the central hand.
Another inspiration drawn from the prestigious sports car is the unique placement of the timepiece's chronograph push buttons on the top of the fine-brushed stainless-steel case. This extraordinary ergonomic innovation - a first in the world of watchmaking - mirrors the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren's unique steering wheel gearshift. Water resistant to 50 meters, the polished crown is adorned with the Mercedes-Benz logo, while the caseback is engraved with a limited edition number.
The SLR Chronograph is 14mm thick, with a diameter of 40 mm from 3 to 9 o'clock. Both sides of the sapphire crystal are treated with an anti-reflective coating. The dial is black and the stylish strap is in crocodile leather, with a folding, push-button buckle. Luminous markers give added visibility to the hands.
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