This fall, TAG Heuer will be offering something unique along with its Formula 1 S3 watch – a ticket to outer space. Well, a zero-gravity flight taking off from Switzerland, actually, but the experience that simulates the weightlessness of space is sure to be a thrill worthy of a special edition watch. The TAG Heuer Formula 1 S3 is really a modified version of TAG’s black Formula 1 chronograph watch, but the story that comes with getting one makes this piece truly a talking point to say the least. The watch on your wrist will be the only valid boarding pass that will grant you access to your out-of-this-world adventure. How cool is that?
Regardless of my middle-aged perception that lots of facets of life are changing for the worse, in fact there are numerous examples of improvements to our lives. This equally applies to the area of horology.Cutting-edge engineering and improvements in metallurgy are just two areas that have conferred advancement inside the watchmaking sector recently.A few years back, I remember seeing a Formula 1 watch from TAG Heuer at a merchant’s shop window. It featured a glowing red dial with a dark crenellated bezel. I have to admit that the watch did not appeal to my tastes. It felt like sacrilege to associate the model using a brand with a rich history of creating exceptional chronograph timepieces like the Carrera and Monaco. Nevertheless, compared I had to concede that it provided accessible pricing and a first-step on the rung of TAG Heuer ownership.The watch comprised a quartz movement that, whilst according accuracy and convenience, was a further facet that failed to excite me. I am a diehard lover of the balance wheel, pallet lever and escape wheel and, therefore, feel little psychological attraction to quartz movements.To my shame, I have never paid much attention to the Formula 1 models, favouring the mechanical timepieces up the TAG Heuer range.Recently, I discovered that the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 16 Automatic Chronograph 44mm. The model, launched earlier this year in Baselworld 2013, features generous proportions and a self-winding motion. My interest was piqued and I felt that the watch justified closer examination.The model is offered in four versions, three with an anthracite dial and one with an avant-garde combination of orange detail put against a black canvas. My favoured model is the grey dial version complemented with a ceramic and steel bracelet (reference: CAU2010.BA0873). A sunray motif features about the dial, dance with mild, granting areas of dark and color which exude a warm feeling and a sense of quality.
The TAG Heuer Formula 1 S3 is another space-themed venture for the brand. The third U.S. manned spaceflight of February 1962 was the first time astronaut and pilot John Glenn experienced the effects of zero gravity while aboard the spacecraft Friendship 7 as he orbited the Earth three times. On his wrist, Glenn wore a Heuer 2915A watch, a surprising hybrid of a pocket chronograph combined with the latest technology of the day. Heuer’s first chronograph appeared in 1882.
Swiss Space Systems (S3) was founded in 2012 with the idea of commercializing zero-gravity flights, the term used to describe the state induced by a lack of Earth’s gravitational attraction on bodies allowing them to float freely in space. In April this year, Swiss Space Systems announced the purchase of an Airbus 340-300 to get its commercial flights underway.
The objective of S3 is to offer the public at large an opportunity to experience a unique zero-gravity environment at earthly prices. The airplane is divided into three separate areas: VIP, Premium, or Party. The first two classes – VIP and Premium – are accessed only with a TAG Heuer Formula 1 S3 watch as a boarding pass.
As mentioned previously, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 S3 is a customized version of the black Chrono Formula 1 quartz watch with 1/10th of a second precision timings. The steel case of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 S3 is coated with titanium carbide and the area from 12 to 5 o’clock is painted in red because the zero gravity experience lasts 25 seconds.
The S3 logo is in the chronograph counter at 6 o’clock and the rubber strap will also be embossed with the S3 insignia, while the caseback is engraved with a diagram depicting the 45º angle of the plane’s flight path. Naturally, the TAG Heuer Formula 1 S3 watch is included in the price of the flight and will not be available in stores. Although the price of the VIP pass is only available on request, we do know that tickets for the Party area – which don’t include the watch – cost 2,950 Swiss francs (almost US$3,000), while Premium class costs 7,500 Swiss francs (US$7,600). Tickets for 2016 zero-gravity flights are sold out, so start booking now for next year’s experience of a lifetime. tagheuer.com