TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph
The TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph is the latest collaboration between the avant-garde watch brand and the Japanese designer and pioneer of streetwear, Hiroshi Fujiwara. This is not the first time the two parties have joined forces. In 2018, the founder of Fragment reimagined the iconic TAG Heuer Carrera culminating in a breathtaking limited-edition chronograph.
In many ways, a designer is like an artist. They possess a well-developed sensitivity to colour, shape, texture, light and even mood. In my native Lancashire, the esteemed artist, L.S. Lowry depicted the cobbled streets, soot-filled air and legions of mill workers with the deft use of oils and brushes. Lowry was very aware of his surroundings and his observations fuelled his creativity.
In my professional role, I have met many designers and they often share similar traits, most notably, they view the world with their eyes wide open. Indeed, they believe that inspiration is all around, potentially nourishing their creative souls. Often design studios are littered with numerous pieces of cloth and leather, interesting packaging materials, photographs and many other sources of inspiration. The psyche of a designer is complex, but their genius is often clear to see.
Over the years, TAG Heuer has collaborated with designers from various fields. This is not because of any failure on the part of its in-house Design Department. Instead, the Swiss brand has sought to inject a particular model with a dose of Japanese creativity, seeking the benefits of using a fresh set of eyes. In 2018, Hiroshi Fujiwara, the acclaimed Japanese designer and pioneer of streetwear, infused the legendary Carrera with his own vision of a chronograph. The results of this collaboration proved spectacular.
Hiroshi Fujiwara was born in the coastal city of Ise, Japan. He is a multi-talented individual, famed for his streetwear designs, music and being the founder of Fragment Design. When Fujiwara turned 18, he moved to Tokyo and became a prominent figure in the Harajuku street fashion scene. In the 1980s, he travelled to New York and discovered hip hop. Returning to Tokyo, weighed down with numerous records, he became a hip hop DJ. Indeed, he is said to be the person who brought this genre of music to Japan. Fujiwara is known as the ‘godfather of the Ura-Harajuku fashion scene’ and he has achieved global recognition for his work as a streetwear designer.
Now, Hiroshi Fujiwara has, once again, joined forces with TAG Heuer, creating another interesting chronograph. The Japanese designer has drawn on his vast experience, embraced an eclectic mix of hip hop, streetwear and Tokyo life and conceived the new TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph. While the case of this watch bears a strong likeness to the popular Formula 1 chronograph, it has been infused with a discernible amount of Fujiwara’s DNA and is unequivocally new and unique.
The TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph features a bicompax layout. While I like several TAG Heuer timepieces equipped with a three register dial layout, the symmetry of this two register design proves most becoming.
At first glance, it is easy to overlook the date indication. Its appears stealthy and quietly resides at 6 o’clock. White numerals are presented on a black date disc which seemingly melts into the black dialscape.
The hour and minute hands look similar to the Monaco’s hands and like this legendary watch, the hour and minute hands are faceted, lined with SuperLumiNova and encompass red accents. They have always looked spectacular on Monaco and, likewise, they look fabulous on TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph. There are no applied indexes on this creation, merely crisp, red squares denoting the hours with double red squares, positioned at noon.
The registers are recessed, supremely smooth and incorporate a sharp, concise white track. The hands on each register are white and of uniform width. A minute track encircles the dial and features both ¼-second and 1-second markings. The dial is embellished with the brand’s logo and makes reference to its Calibre Heuer 02 movement, however, it eschews the customary ‘Swiss Made’ text.
Fujiwara has signed his artistic canvas, adding the Fragment Design logo below noon and the word ‘FRAGMENT’ in white block capitals, between 4 and 5 o’clock. A red central chronograph seconds hand records the elapsed time. Its vibrant tone arrests attention, however, it doesn’t unduly detract from the hour and minute hands.
When looking at the dial of the TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph I could discern there was something missing but I struggled to identify what the omission was. While the Calibre Heuer 02 allows for a small seconds indication above the date aperture, Fujiwara has chosen to set aside this indication. Indeed, it is clear that Fujiwara has repeatedly pared back many of the regular design elements, culminating in an eminently simple dial.
Measuring 44mm in diameter, the TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph is housed in a barrel-shaped case and paired with a gorgeous 5-rows stainless steel bracelet which I have not seen on other TAG Heuer creations. The appearance of both the case and bracelet is enriched with a blend of polished and finely-brushed surfaces.
The bezel is fixed, incorporates a ceramic inlay and is marked with a tachymeter scale. The Japanese designer has conceived a comparatively restrained dial and case ensemble. However, turn the watch over and any notion of understatement soon evaporates. The exhibition case back is presented with a vivid red-hued sapphire crystal adorned with the Fragment Design logo.
The TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph incorporates the watch brand’s finest chronograph movement, the Calibre Heuer 02. This movement is technically superior to most of its counterparts. It is fully integrated and features a column wheel and vertical coupling, providing an array of benefits.
Many chronograph movements suffer from ‘drag’, especially modular movements. When the chronograph is actuated, the amplitude of the balance drops, adversely affecting precision. One benefit of the Calibre Heuer 02 configuration is that the effects of drag are minimal.
With most chronographs, when the stopwatch function is actuated, there is a slight hesitation before the central chronograph seconds hand commences its journey. No such problems afflict the Calibre Heuer 02.
Another benefit of a column wheel and vertical coupling arrangement is that there is less wear than with other types of chronograph movements.
Pressing the pushpiece at 2 o’clock bestows an exquisite creamy smooth action, free of any unwanted jerkiness. Again, this can be attributed to the performing duo, the column wheel and vertical coupling.
The movement features a black, openworked oscillating weight and the bridges are embellished with Côtes de Genève motif. While the watch features an exhibition case back, the aforementioned red tint, despite looking fabulous, does make it difficult to view the movement. I feel a tad conflicted by this. On one hand, I have viewed an uncased Calibre Heuer 02 and adore its appearance. On the other hand, I do like the vibrant character of the red glazing and find it hard to reject its seductive advances.
The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement contains 33 jewels. Assuming the watch is fully wound, the Calibre Heuer 02 will run autonomously for a spectacular 80 hours.
Extraordinary readability is an attribute common to all TAG Heuer watches. It harks back to a time when Jack Heuer was in charge of the business on a day-to-day basis. Heuer would always obsess over the issue of dial legibility, appraising each element of a dial’s composition. Hiroshi Fujiwara has clearly shown he understands the importance of designing a dial which proves effortless to read. Quite simply, the dial of the TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph imparts information in a simple to interpret form.
This brings me to another consideration. When viewing coverage of a major fashion show, the garments often look imaginative and groundbreaking, however, I often question their validity in the ‘real world’. Fujiwara has clearly shown that he understands the importance of designing a practical, wearable watch, something which is evident with this latest avant-garde model.
This collaboration between the avant-garde watch company and the Japanese designer renounces the strategy of some fashion brands which adopt a style over substance philosophy. Indeed, the dial and case are supremely refined and are enriched with an array of delightful details, demonstrating both parties have expended vast amounts of time on the minutiae. Furthermore, this gorgeous chronograph is endowed with a sublime movement, a testament to TAG Heuer’s incredible expertise. It is this exceptional style and notable substance which makes this timepiece one of my favourite TAG Heuer chronographs to date.
- Model: TAG Heuer x Fragment Design Heuer 02 Chronograph
- Reference: CAZ201A.BA06
Case: Stainless steel; diameter 44 mm; water resistance 10ATM (100m); sapphire crystal to the front and exhibition case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; date; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre Heuer 02 Manufacture; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve = 80 hours
- Bracelet: Stainless-steel five-rows bracelet with steel butterfly folding clasp with safety push buttons
- Limited Edition: 500 pieces