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Why do all the current 3-subdial auto chronographs have a 6-9-12 configuration instead of 3-6-9?

  1. calibre11user

    calibre11user Jan 5, 2016

    Looking through the current model ranges from Tag Heuer (including the Carrera, Aquaracer, Formula 1, and Link), I see that all the automatic chronographs with 3 subdials have a 6-9-12 subdial configuration instead of 3-6-9. (One well-known automatic chronograph with a 3-6-9 configuration would be the Rolex Daytona.)

    Why is this so? When did this trend start? I'm asking because I've seen photos of vintage Carreras from the 1970s with a 3-6-9 layout.

    Is it a coincidence that the Calibre 1887 chronographs have this same configuration to match the Calibre 16 (Valjoux 7750, which from my limited understanding is always 6-9-12), or was it by design?
  2. dsio

    dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Jan 5, 2016

    The number of different chronograph movements out there isn't all that high, the 7750 happens to be very reliable and accurate, easy to service and dependable so it became kind of ubiquitous.

    I've always thought that part of what contributes to its popularity is that its identifiable as an automatic. While TAG Heuer does make 3-6-9 Carreras in quartz the 7750 dial arrangement is sort of identifiable from a distance as an automatic across brands, and the 1887 is as well, while as good as he El Primero (Calibre 36) is, its small compressed 3-6-9 layout does look similar to many quartz chronographs.
  3. Calibre11

    Calibre11 Editor of Staff Member Jan 9, 2016

    Hi @calibre11user good question. Generally, the layout is determined by the movement available rather than choosing a movement because of the layout.

    The reason that most TAG Heuer's from ~1990-2010 have the 12-6-9 layout is because almost all of the automatic chronograph models use the ETA/ Valjoux 7750 which has this layout. From memory, the 7750 and the Lemania 5100 were the first automatic chronographs to use this layout, so I suppose that it's a 1970s thing! You can read more about the 7750 here

    Very few Carreras used the 12-6-9 layout- only the last Lemania 5100 series from the 1980s. No Carrera used the 7750/ Calibre 16 until 2005.

    The 1887 is based on the Seiko TC78 movement, which by design uses 12-6-9
    The original intention was to phase out all 7750 models with a straight swap for the 1887, but that was before Sellita scaled up and became an alternative supplier of the 7750 (its SW500 is a clone of the 7750).

    Personally, I like either a 2-reg 3-9 or a 3-reg 3-6-9...but that's just personal taste.

  4. calibre11user

    calibre11user Jan 10, 2016

    Thank you for the explanation. From the Biver interview on this website, it appears he is willing to commercialize the CH80 movement that was developed a few years ago, and that movement has the 3-6-9 configuration. I'm looking forward to it.
  5. OttoWilliam

    OttoWilliam Oct 19, 2016

    I am might be wrong on this. But i used to own breitling with 3-6-9 configuration and guess what ? It has no quick set date feature ! Now i certainly didn't do my homework when buying it. The 6-9-12 configuration has the quick set date. Which makes me feel a bit...sad...