100 years of Audi. An exceptional anniversary is being celebrated with an exceptional timekeeper – the Tradition and innovation – the Audi centennial watch, the new Audi centennial watch. It embodies the incomparable spirit of the brand: tradition and innovation, design and precision, sophistication and perfection. A masterpiece of watchmakers’ artistry, this push-piece chronograph with tachometer function has a manufacture caliber and a unique design.
“The Tachoscope is a tribute to 100 years of Audi,” explains Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “This timekeeper is a masterpiece of the watchmaker’s craft, a product of passion for mechanical precision. And, it symbolizes the strong roots of our powerful brand.”
Audi Design was responsible for styling this exclusive timekeeper, in collaboration with Chronoswiss, its Munich-based development and production partner. Like Audi, Chronoswiss is dedicated to precision and the utmost quality. A further bond is their deeply rooted tradition and shared commitment to pursuing innovative approaches and visionary solutions.
The inimitable Audi Tachoscope features a combination of a regulator dial, chronograph function, single push-piece and tachymeter scale. Particularly noteworthy about its version of the classic regulator principle is the decentralized arrangement of the hour and second scales. Only the minute hand extends from the center of the dial; with the Tachoscope, the chronograph hand is also centrally positioned. This improves the unmistakable readability – even of a complex dial. Chronographic measurement is enhanced by the tachymeter scale on the Tachoscope’s bezel. This allows measurement of speed in kilometers and miles per hour. After all, the word “tachoscope” is Greek for speed display.
Equally as singular as the layout is the design of the genuine enamel dial face: Inspired by the instrumentation of the legendary Auto Union race cars, Audi Design developed its own, especially sharp numeric font for it. Prominently encircling the regulator dial are the large numerals of the second scale, reminiscent of the speedometer gauges of the Type C Grand Prix race cars of the 1930s. Audi Design also styled the crown to resemble a gear. The housing, delineated by clear-cut edges, projects distinctive elegance and proportional balance.
Engraved on the winding rotor of the mechanical movement, visible through the casement’s glass back, are the years signifying Audi’s anniversary.
“The aesthetics of the Tachoscope’s movement are incredible,” enthuses Wolfgang Egger, Audi Group Head of Design. “The centennial watch’s style is typical Audi; our design philosophy translated to classic watch design. The Tachoscope represents the state-of-the-art, as each of our products do in their own segment.”
Chronoswiss is responsible for the technology behind the dial. Hence, inside the Tachoscope is the exclusive manufacture caliber C. 125, for which Chronoswiss has just received a European Patent (No. 1243984). An intricate mechanism makes it possible to operate the chronograph with just one push-piece, which is integrated into the winding crown.
As a special limited edition, only 100 specimens of the Audi centennial watch will be made – in platinum (CH A 1520) and white gold (CH A 1521 W); one for each year of the company’s history. The 35 platinum and 65 white gold watches will be delivered in wooden jewelry boxes with a black piano finish. Included are also a watchmaker’s loupe and screwdriver. The recommended retail price for the platinum version is €24,900, for the white gold version €14,900.
The Tachoscope – the utmost in mechanical precision
Today, a high-quality mechanical watch is more than just a precision timekeeper, of course. Inevitably, it is a treasured item of jewelry – often, the only one – that expresses taste and lifestyle. The Audi Tachoscope sends a clear message: Its owner exhibits sporting elegance, values distinctive aesthetics and supreme quality, honors tradition yet is open for innovation. In return the Tachoscope provides its owner with the assurance of knowing that he is wearing a singularly exclusive possession: Exactly 100 specimens will be hand-crafted – one for each of Audi’s 100 years.
A new interpretation of the brand’s tradition
“The Tachoscope conveys 100 years of company history without imparting a retro feeling,” states Wolfgang Egger, Head of Design at the Audi Group. Egger ventures far into the future with his automotive projects; with the Tachoscope, however, Audi Design reinterpreted the brand’s tradition, giving it the look of a timeless classic. Audi Konzept Design, the external creative studio in Munich, developed the Tachoscope’s form.
“The Tachoscope projects the fascination of the mechanism; its movement has an incredible aesthetic,” sums up design chief Wolfgang Egger.
“The proportions of the manufacture caliber define the basic geometry of the housing. The style is typical Audi; our design philosophy translated to a watch design.”
In this manner the Tachoscope exemplifies the clear-cut precision that distinguishes Audi design. Its housing is characterized by the expansive convex crystal, in harmony with crisp edges that evoke precision. They delineate the shape of the housing, exhibiting a finely balanced tension – as does the interplay between the polished surfaces and the lightly brushed perimeter surfaces of the housing. The aura of precision is exuded by the winding crown in particular, which resembles a transmission gear. A further example of attention to detail are the screws fastened to the lugs – even they were individually styled by Audi Design.
Inspired by legendary race cars
The chronograph’s dial is its visage, of course, and it was also accorded the greatest attention. Inspired by the instrumentation of the legendary Auto Union race cars, Audi Design developed its own, especially sharp numeric font for it. Prominently encircling the regulator dial are the large numerals of the second scale, reminiscent of the speedometer gauges of the Type C Grand Prix race cars of the 1930s. The dial features a classic black on white color combination. Accents are provided by the red ring of the tachymeter scale (used for speed measurements), the red chronograph hand and the other hands crafted in blued steel. A special heating process imbues the material with this typical coloring.
Revealing details about the specially crafted construction can be discerned from the dial: The Tachoscope has a regulator dial; the hour, minute and second hands all turn on their own separate pivots. This apportionment is borne of a long tradition and eases the readability. The fourth hand – the centrally located chronographic seconds indicator – enables stopwatch measurements, performed with a single push-piece projecting from the winding crown. Speed measurements are made possible by the tachymeter scale: if the time is stopped that was required for traveling the distance of one kilometer, then the traveled speed can immediately be read from here. After all, the word “Tachoscope” is Greek for speed display.
A unique mechanism of supreme intricacy
Chronoswiss has furnished the Tachoscope with a unique movement – the manufacture caliber C.125. The regulator design and the push-piece operation are only two of its exceptional features. Incidentally, a small, heart-shaped disk is what enables instant resetting of the chronograph display to the zero position. In 1844 the Swiss watchmaker Adolphe Nicole invented this component, which was crucial to perfecting the art of timekeeping. And, in the noble tradition of classic chronographs, the Tachoscope still makes use of this invention today. Chronoswiss still mounts the complex mechanism directly on the front side of the plate of the automatic C.125 caliber – just like back then. Unlike commonplace modular designs, the Tachoscope plate is specially processed for this purpose, with milled slots and bore holes of painstaking precision that perfectly accommodate the mechanism’s intricate components. The ratchet wheel for controlling the chronographic seconds rotates around the pivot of the permanently active second hand. This makes use of a Chronoswiss innovation, the ball bearing-mounted chrono wheel.
The Tachoscope’s chronometric accuracy is derived from the quality of the Glucydur balance of the manufactory movement, which executes 21,600 oscillations per hour with its auto-compensating flat hairspring. Stopwatch accuracy, precise to 1/6 of a second, is the result.
Elaborate precision detailing of the tiniest parts
The inner beauty of the elaborate mechanism is visible through the casement’s glass back. Geneva stripes and a pearled finish adorn all the larger visible and hidden parts of the movement. The most minute components, such as screws and cogs, are polished, blued or gilded. Each of these refinements is performed by Chronoswiss with painstaking attention to detail. An exceptional part of the movement is the automatic winding mechanism’s rotor. It enables the movement to draw power from every movement of the hand. The rotor was also specially designed by Audi Design and enlarged to suit the overall proportions of the watch better. Both the founding year of the brand and the centennial anniversary year are engraved on it.
This extraordinary timekeeper will remain an exclusive masterpiece: As a special limited edition, only 100 specimens of the Audi centennial watch will be made – in platinum (CH A 1520) and white gold (CH A 1521 W); one for each year of the company’s history. The 35 platinum and 65 white gold watches will delivered in wooden jewelry boxes with a black piano finish. Included are also a watchmaker’s loupe and screwdriver. The recommended retail price for the platinum version is €24,900, for the white gold version €14,900.
The inspiration – Auto Union Grand Prix race cars
Clarity was crucial; displays had to be precise and readable at a glance. Drivers only had fractions of a second to scan their instruments when they were zooming along racecourses at speeds of up to 340 km/h (210 mph). Instruments of the legendary Auto Union Grand Prix race cars served Audi Design as an inspiration for the look of the Audi centennial watch.
Especially the speedometers played a key role for race drivers Bernd Rosemeyer, Tazio Nuvolari and Hans Stuck. Then as now, it is ultimately the right time to change gear that is one of the decisive factors of optimum race car control: shifting too early results in a loss of power; yet, if the revs are too high, then the power drops again or the high-performance engine’s well-being could even be seriously at risk. Audi Design developed its own typography from the very sharp and quickly readable graphic appearance of those instruments from the 1930s. It provides the basis of the special dial face of the Audi Tachoscope.
Auto Union race cars represent a very special milestone in Audi’s corporate history. They always stood out from the starting lineup at Grand Prix races. Not only because they usually started from right at the front, but rather because they had a strikingly new appearance: the Auto Union drivers no longer sat behind the engine, but in front of it.
The engines – usually powerful, 16-cylinder powerplants – were located at the middle of the car. This mid-engine layout improved weight distribution and traction. The advantages were compelling: Today, this layout has long since become standard. Even high-performance sports cars for the road, such as the Audi R8, benefit from the dynamic handling strengths of the mid-engine layout.
Already at its debut in 1934, Hans Stuck set a new world record with the Auto Union Type A. In 1936 the young driver Bernd Rosemeyer captured both the German and European championship titles with the Type C, powered by more than 500 hp. By the end of 1937, Auto Union had competed in 54 races and won 32 of them – setting 15 world records in the process. When Tazio Nuvolari jumped out of the car on September 3, 1939, after his victory in Belgrade, this marked the end of this incredible racer’s era.
The craftsmanship – Chronoswiss in Munich
Chronoswiss, a Munich-based watchmaker, is the development and production partner for the Tachoscope. Over 25 years ago, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang – founder of Chronoswiss – dedicated himself to his fascination for precision mechanics and is now considered to be a pioneer of the revival of the classic watchmaker’s craft. Today, Chronoswiss epitomizes unsurpassed quality and continual innovation.
Since their renaissance at the end of the 1980s, mechanical wristwatches have become first-class collectors’ objects. Thanks to the highly complex engineering, traditional craftsmanship and exquisite materials involved, these ticking objets d’art are again highly regarded. Chronoswiss, headquartered in the Bavarian town of Karlsfeld near Munich, played a key role in this development. As the most senior among the ‘youthful’ makers of mechanical watches, in 2008 they celebrated their 25th anniversary.
In 1983, a time when quartz watches from Asia were advancing in their triumphal worldwide conquest and mechanical watches no longer seemed to have a future, watchmaker Gerd-Rüdiger Lang laid the cornerstone of his company. He remained steadfast in his firm belief in precision mechanics; eventually, his conviction proved to be true. His extremely successful independent family enterprise continues to prevail to this date.
Chronoswiss set the standard early on by introducing wristwatch innovations, such as the glass casement. This glass casement, which has meanwhile become conventional, made the captivating mechanisms visible. Success proved him right, which is why this feature – made of durable sapphire glass – is an intrinsic part of every Chronoswiss. Further hallmarks are the screwed, characteristically milled bezel and often a solid turnip crown. The first wristwatch with a regulator dial face is credited to the seasoned watchmaker, just as are numerous other innovations with which Lang has progressively perfected the watchmaker’s artistry.
A further groundbreaking innovation was launched by Chronoswiss this year: The new Sauterelle watch is the first model to feature an in-house developed manufacture caliber “made in Germany”. Chronoswiss is thus making a clear distinction between the manufacture calibers used to date, which are all limited editions, and the Sauterelle, a completely new development that represents the first step on the brand’s path to becoming a manufacturer.
The creative minds – Audi Konzept Design Munich
“Conceptual design requires freedom,” is how Wolfgang Egger, Head of Design for the Audi Group, defines the mission of the external creative studio in Munich. Konzept Design Munich is Audi Design’s think tank; here, creative minds from a variety of fields work together to share imaginative future concepts for the brand design. Their work comprises the Transportation Design and Product Design areas of expertise. Designers also develop unique, non-automotive products – such as the Tachoscope, Audi’s centennial anniversary
Audi Design’s Munich site already has a certain tradition, dating back 25 years ago when the studio first opened in the Schwabing district. Right from the start, Munich proved itself to be a place where the designers could think far ahead, refining new vehicle concepts and infusing the Audi brand with fresh, new ideas. Spectacular, pioneering projects originated in this manner in the 1990s, such as the Avus quattro – a super sports car concept vehicle, the first Audi A2 show cars or the concept for the “Steppenwolf” compact SUV.
The Munich studio is a site in quest of new inspiration, where ideas flow freely. Discussions with creative minds from other fields, or with students from a worldwide network of universities who are involved in projects, provide new food for thought. In addition, Konzept Design Munich is closely intermeshed with Audi design studios in Ingolstadt and Santa Monica, as well as with the designers of SEAT in Martorell (near Barcelona) or Lamborghini’s Centro Stile in Sant’Agata, Italy.
The Transportation Design area of expertise is considered to be the conceptual pre-design incubator for efforts that are later integrated in series production models in Ingolstadt. Here, the status quo is constantly challenged, technological innovations are incorporated and applied in new ways. Wolfgang Egger explains his colleagues mission in Munich thus: “Here, we must continually push the envelope and innovate.” Working as a team, they originate exterior and interior designs – right up to models on a 1:1 scale.
Parallel to Transportation Design, the Product Design department conceives utilitarian items and particularly sophisticated objects – from a line of handbags to writing implements, from bicycles to watches. These products are not only designed for Audi but for external clients as well. Their branding must be compatible with that of Audi, of course. Sophisticatedly detailed concepts, which cleverly recombine style and substance, are required. The goal is to enable Audi’s design expertise to shine in new directions.
Wolfgang Egger describes their task as being very focused: “These products must embody the state-of-the-art. Not only do they have to have the best design in their area, they must also exemplify absolute top quality.” This was perfectly accomplished with the Tachoscope, the new Audi centennial anniversary watch – with typical Audi consistency. Ultimately, it was not just about designing the outer casing; a new font, scrupulously modeled on the Auto Union sports cars of the 1930s, was also developed for the dial.
Sales information for both timepieces can be obtained from Audi quattro GmbH by phone at +49 (0)841 89 46599 or by email at quattro @ audi-shop.de