Luxury watch brand TAG Heuer is taking the wraps off what it calls a time-keeping breakthrough: The Carrera Mikrograph 1/100th Second Chronograph.
The Swiss watchmaker, owned by luxury powerhouse LVMH, claims to be the first to master chronographs with the precision of 1/10th, 1/100th and 1/1,000th of a second, and says the new special-edition watch is a tribute to the first sports stopwatch that displayed 1/50th and 1/100th of a second, patented by Heuer back in 1916.
What make this model innovative, it says in its launch release, are two distinct balance wheels, which "allow for the full engagement of the stopwatch without interfering with the watch function. This core technology ensures less wear and tear of the mechanisms, and protects the longevity of the movement."
The company will make 150 of the new watches to commemorate its 150th anniversary, scheduled to go on sale in October and priced at $50,000. No word yet on whether the company will advertise the new offering, but TAG Heuer maintains marketing relationships with the Monaco Grand Prix, the Le Mans 24 and the Indy 500 as well as such celebrity spokespeople as actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan, and tennis star Maria Sharapova. (As part of its anniversary, the company says it will tour a "150 Years of Mastering Speed" exhibition to major cities and racing capitals.)
Meanwhile, experts continue to predict big gains in sales of such high-end watches and other luxury items, as the rich -- particularly those in Asia, Europe and the U.S. -- return to discretionary spending. Back in October, its latest reporting period, LVMH says sales in its watches and jewelry division gained 29%, more than other categories.
And consulting company Bain & Co. has predicted the emergence of a new luxury era, and expects 2010 luxury sales to come in at $237 billion, up 10% from the prior year.