The History of the Valjoux 7750 (ETA7750) and TAG Heuer

TAG Heuer Caliber 16 Movement

The History of the ETA7750 and TAG Heuer

The ETA 7750 movement, also known as TAG Heuer's Calibre 16, is probably the most successful automatic chronograph movement ever made.

The ETA7750 movement has been adopted by various brands and has become widely used.

Because these calibers meet the chronometer standards set by COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Committee), they are used in a wide range of luxury brand products, including IWC, Tudor, Panerai, Hublot, and TAG Heuer.
However, the era of the ETA 7750 was coming to an end as the watch industry celebrated the movement's 40th anniversary in 2014.

TAG Heuer Link Tachymeter

The ETA7750 is a product of the history of the Swiss watch industry.

During the quartz revolution of the early and mid-1970s, the Swiss watch industry faced an industrial crisis.
Production of ETA7750 will be discontinued.

Once the crisis had subsided in the mid-1980s, production of the ETA 7750 began again.
By the late 1990s, the ETA 7750 was the most popular watch in the world.
It is an automatic chronograph movement.

This is welcome news for a caliber that was discontinued in 1975.

Development of the 7750

The ETA7750 was developed by Valjoux, a legendary movement manufacturer under the umbrella of ASUAG (an association established with the support of the Confederation, the Banks, the Swiss Watchmaking Chamber, the UBAH and the FH).

Founded in 1931, ASUAG brings together many independent Swiss movement manufacturers.

By the early 1970s, ASUAG had merged with Certina, Edox, Eterna and Longines.

The origins of the ETA7750 date back to 1966, when the company became part of Valjoux.
It is based on a Venus product.

Many of the world's most famous automatic chronograph movements were developed during the arms race of the late 1960s, followed by a golden age of innovation between 1969 and 1974.

Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton Chronomatic (1969), Seiko 6139 (1969), Zenith El Primero (1969) and Lemania 5100 (1973) were released in rapid succession.

Valjoux, an industry leader in manual chronographs, appointed watchmaker Edmond to head the development of new movements in the early 1970s.

A development trend has finally emerged in the automatic watch industry.

Based on the hand-wound Valjoux 7733 (successor to the Venus 188), the 7750 hit the market in 1973-1974 as the world's first computer-designed watch.

Movement structure

A reliable and cost-effective caliber, the 7750 is relatively thick and large compared to its contemporary rivals.
The 7750 emits the sound of the rotor spinning, known as the sonic signature.

The watch has a unidirectional winding mechanism, and since the rotor is relatively large and heavy, it automatically winds the mainspring efficiently no matter which way the rotor turns.

When you wear a watch, you can feel the vibrations as the rotor turns in one direction and winds the watch when you move it.

Early versions of the Valjoux 7750 had 17 jewels and beat frequencies of 21,600bph and 28,800bph.

Quartz Crisis

Seiko Quartz

Despite a promising start (approximately 100,000 units in the first year), production of the Valjoux 7750 had all but ceased by 1975.

The development of low-cost quartz movements in Japan dealt a blow to luxury Swiss watches.
(The world's first commercially available quartz wristwatch was the "Astron" sold by Seiko in 1969.)

Despite declining demand and production being discontinued in 1975, the Valjoux 7750 remained on sale until the early 1980s.
As happened with the Zenith El Primero, local manufacturers were trying to dispose of the dies and equipment used to make the 7750 and were not taking orders.

They hid the equipment from the ordering company.

Heuer and the Valjoux 7750

Heuer Movement
In the 1960s, as a major customer for Valjoux manual winding movements, Heuer had their own Caliber 11 engine, but also made watches with the 7750 movement.
The first 7750 models were made in 1977, when Heuer released two new models: the Kentucky (below) and the Pasadena.
The Kentucky was sold for a relatively short period (1977-1978), while the Pasadena was sold until 1982, when the Heuer family's ownership came to an end.
Heuer Kentucky
In 1981, Heuer released the second-generation Heuer Montreal (below), which had a similar design to the Pasadena.

Heuer Montreal

Why did Heuer stop using the Valjoux 7750 in 1982?

This was not due to a decline in demand, but rather the direction of Heuer's new partner, Lemania.

When Valjoux joined ASUAG, Lemania was at rival company SSIH.

When ASUAG and SSIH merged in the early 1980s to form Swatch, organizational changes were necessary.

Since Swatch already owned the movement makers ETA and Valjoux, Lemania formed SSIH into a new independent company called Nouvelle Lemania.
Lemania has since returned to the Swatch Group.

Breguet claims that their in-house movements are made by Lemania.

Nouvelle Lemania merged with Piaget in 1982 to acquire Heuer.

This is to ensure that Heuer can use Lemania automatic movements (Lemania 5100 and LWO283).
In the early 1980s, with no new 7750 models having been released in over seven years, it looked as though Heuer's use of the Valjoux 7750 would be a relatively short-lived period in the brand's history.

1985 7750 Playback

Various movements

After the founding of the Swatch Group, the economy began to stabilize and production of the Valjoux 7750 began again in 1985.
Valjoux tried to expand the 7750 line with other complications such as moon phases.
Why is the 7750 making a comeback?

As former Heuer and Chronoswiss founder Gerd-Rüdiger Lang told Watch Time in 2008:
The Valjoux 7750 is characterised by its automatic winding mechanism, which is exceptionally robust and fault-resistant .

It has a good cost-benefit ratio.

This is easy to repair as it does not require any work on the function that measures elapsed time, which is considered difficult to repair in any chronograph .

Since the 7750 was designed, it has undergone several improvements.

For example, in the early 1980s, Chronoswiss was the first company in the world to manufacture and install metal blocking levers.
ETA subsequently adopted the changes and incorporated them into their own movements .

One might commonly assume that this caliber is a very new device.

Of course, I have no objection since there are no other models equipped with a chronograph.

I would also like to see a model that is thinner overall and features a large date display and power reserve indicator.

However, our hope is that they will continue to produce the 7750 model for a long time to come.

- Gerd-Rüdiger Lange , Founder and CEO of Chronoswiss Uhren GmbH
Production of the 7750 picked up to around 200,000 units by the 1990s, and the movement became the default movement for many watch brands, with the Swatch Group dominating the supply chain.

There are also few benefits for other watch manufacturers to develop their own movements.

The 1990s: TAG Heuer and the 7750

In 1997, TAG Heuer relaunched the S/el Chronograph (below) and the 2000 Chronograph with the 7750. This marked the start of TAG Heuer's reintroduction of mechanical movements into various watches.

TAG Heuer S/el Chronograph

However, most of TAG Heuer's chronograph products were quartz.

A change of ownership in 1982 marked the end of Heuer's use of the 7750.
In 2001, LVMH was appointed as the operator of TAG Heuer.

LVMH has pursued a strategy that focuses on mechanical chronographs.

2000s TAG Heuer Calibre 16

TAG Heuer Calibre 16

The 7750 was sold under the Valjoux brand in the 2000s and later became known as the ETA7750, and was used as a TAG Heuer movement in various TAG Heuer products such as the 2001 Linkrise.

Since then, the movement has been used by TAG Heuer since it was installed in the new Carrera model in 2005.
It has become increasingly used.

In 1996, TAG Heuer released a reissue of the Carrera as a retro novelty (not mass-produced).
It is now on sale.

TAG Heuer used the original design for over 20 years, but in 2005 the design was changed.

TAG Heuer Carrera

In addition to the new design, TAG Heuer entrusted the fate of its company to the 7750, resulting in the creation of the Calibre 16.
The Calibre 16 is found in many TAG Heuer watches, including the Carrera, Link (below), and Aquaracer.
Tag Heuer Link

2010: The Arrival of Caliber 1887

TAG Heuer Calibre 16

You may know that the Swatch Group has been in a long-running feud with Swiss antitrust regulators for stopping the supply of movements to rivals like TAG Heuer.

With the ETA7750 unavailable, TAG Heuer acquired the rights to use the Seiko 6S78.

The Seiko 6S78 was reassembled and manufactured in Switzerland as the TAG Heuer Caliber 1887.

Movement structure
The Caliber 1887 uses the same dial layout as the 7750, making it easy to swap out the ETA movement.

TAG Heuer learned that the industrialization process is crucial for any new movement.

In the 2010s, TAG Heuer watches were so popular that supply of the Caliber 1887 could not keep up with demand.

Proof that there is still a need for the Caliber 16.

Amid growing demand, demand for the ETA7750 decreased.

As with much of the Swiss watch industry, TAG Heuer began to look to other Swiss companies.

The company in question was Stella, which had been assembling the ETA 7750 as a subcontractor for ETA for many years.

Stella SW500-2012

Stella SW500-2012

As the patent protection for ETA's old movements expired, Stella produced movements that looked exactly like ETA movements to fill the product shortage on the market.

The Stella SW500, which went on sale in 2012, is an ETA7750 manufactured by Stella, which originally manufactured the 7750 for ETA.
Today, TAG Heuer equips several models with the Calibre 16.

If you trace it back to its origins, Caliber 16 is both the ETA7750 and the Stella SW500.

Production of the Caliber 1887 is increasing and the new Caliber 1969 is scheduled to appear in 2014.

The End of Caliber 16?

TAG Heuer Calibre 1887

Credibility for the TAG Heuer ETA 7750 is falling fast.

This decline in confidence may not be a bad thing, given that the Swatch Group may be able to credibly stop supplying TAG Heuer with the ETA 7750 without violating antitrust laws.

If there is demand for the Caliber 16 for a few more years, the era of the Stella SW500 will be over.

Despite its plastic components, I often see collectors recounting and celebrating the history of the Lemania 5100, but the ETA 7750 is less commonly seen, although it has a fascinating story.
Perhaps it's because the particular 12-6-9 arrangement is less interesting than the 3-6-9 tricompax, and also because of the thicker style of the ETA 7500 movement.
The success of the 7750 is that the movement can be disassembled, making it versatile.

Any watch brand looking for low cost, durability, and precision will choose the 7750.
For those who appreciate high-end, one-of-a-kind watches, the advantages of the ETA 7500 may seem unappealing.