Master of Movements: Exclusive Interview with Carole Forestier-Kasapi of TAG Heuer

Carole Forestier-Kasapi, Movements Director at TAG Heuer and a legend in mechanical movements design, shares about the brand’s latest mechanical marvels

There’s a very good reason why Carole Forestier-Kasapi is often offered as the “Queen of Complications” complications. Among professionals in the watch industry, she is widely recognized for being a certified genius when it comes to mechanical movements and complications. This was particularly evident during tenure at Cartier, where she spearheaded the maison’s in-house movement development.

In 2020, Forestier-Kasapi joined TAG Heuer as the brand’s Movements Director. Unsurprisingly, there has been quite a few exciting developments in TAG Heuer’s movement portfolio since then, as demonstrated by last year’s TAG Heuer Only Watch Monaco. As for this year, amid the continuation of the Aquaracer’s design revival and the launch of disruptive new materials such as lab- grown diamonds for the TAG Heuer Carrera Plasma, a range of exciting new advances in movement creation were also presented.

And as luck would have it, this year, DA MAN had the opportunity to chat with Forestier-Kasapi to learn more about these updates…

DAMAN: Can you give us a short introduction to yourself and what you do as TAG Heuer’s Movement Director?
Carole Forestier-Kasapi: I was born in Paris, France, into a family of watchmakers. My mother and father as well as my brother are watchmakers; so. almost naturally, I came to Switzerland at the age of 16 to learn the craft and never left. I earned two watchmaking degrees from the CIFOM in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and specialized in movement development—first mechanical and then later in my career in complications and haute horlogerie. I first worked as an engineering consultant for various brands, then at Renaud et Papi (APRP SA) before joining the Richemont group in 2000 where I developed a wide range of movements for various maisons before leading movement creation in-house for Cartier from 2005 and finally I joined TAG Heuer in March 2020. Here, I’m in charge of the brand’s movement design and development efforts, working on exciting projects such as the TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco powered by the only Heuer 02 Isograph caliber and many of the novelties introduced this year.

DAMAN: TAG Heuer has released quite a few exciting novelties for 2022, from the new Aquaracer and the Connected Watch Calibre E4 to the new models rounding-up the Autavia’s 60th anniversary collection. Which new release would you say represents the biggest technical leap- forward for TAG Heuer?
Carole Forestier-Kasapi: In terms of movements, which is my area of expertise, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer collection presents two important innovations this year: Our first solar- powered movement on the Solargraph and the new Calibre TH30-00 on the Superdiver.
The first, called Calibre TH50-00 and developed exclusively with the Manufacture La Joux-Perret, now allows us to use the light of the sun, a limitless energy source, to power the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph whose movement integrates an innovative solar module. Our solar movement provides a host of guaranteed benefits. There’s no need to change the battery of the watch, it recharges with the sun or artificial light: the movement needs only two minutes in full sunlight to keep the watch running for a whole day; and when fully charged—after less than 20 hours under the sun—the watch can run for six months. If the timepiece stops working, you just need to expose it again to light for ten seconds to make it work again, thanks to its ultra-efficient recharge time.
For our most impressive model in the range, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 100 Superdiver, built for saturation diving, we also released a new movement, the Calibre TH30-00, which represents a significant milestone for our brand in terms of reliability and performance. It has a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, a movement chronometry with 6 sec/day—COSC’s standards is 10 sec/day—and the watch chronometry is at 10 sec/day. The second advantage is durability and robustness in the design, achieved through the crossing balance bridge, for instance. It’s the first TAG Heuer timepiece using this movement which was produced exclusively for TAG Heuer by Kenissi Manufacture, one of the most highly regarded movement manufacturers.

“As a creator I am always looking forward, never back. So, the biggest accomplishment is the one to come”

DAMAN: TAG Heuer is one of the very few brands that is actively developing both mechanical and connected watches. Has the continued development of the Connected Watches line in any way affected or influenced the way mechanical watches are developed? Or are there any other ways that the development of the two intersect or influence each other?
Carole Forestier-Kasapi: TAG Heuer is recognized for its constant innovation and 160 years of avant-garde. This is in our DNA and we will continue to push the limits in this field. Therefore, launching a connected watch was completely aligned with who we are.
Of course, mechanical watches still represent a major part of our business, but we have great ambitions for this connected segment of product. The strength of this category is that it brings new customers to the brand and to our mechanical watches. We are reaching new audiences who, once in our universe, are then also interested in traditional watches.
And our savoir-faire in traditional watchmaking plays a crucial part on the development of the connected as well especially on the design. So, it’s very beneficial for both sides of our activity.

TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Pro 200 Solargraph

DAMAN: We were also quite intrigued by the two TAG Heuer Autavia 60th Anniversary COSC Flyback Chronographs. Can you help explain what makes a flyback chronograph both special and challenging to create?
Carole Forestier-Kasapi: Indeed, the newly developed Calibre Heuer 02 COSC Flyback manufacture movement is a real technical innovation made by our in-house team. It is a rarely seen function in chronographs mainly due to the difficulty of implementing it. In short, the flyback function makes it possible to reset the chronograph hand and commence a new timing without the need to stop it first, saving valuable time in high-pressure situations, such as recording lap times at the racetrack.

DAMAN: Can you give us an example of how you once reinvented or otherwise re-imagined a watchmaking mechanism?

Carole Forestier-Kasapi: You may remember the beautiful TAG Heuer Only Watch Monaco we released for last year’s auction. The movement of this piece was a unique expression of the Calibre Heuer 02, created exclusively for the occasion. This movement was the first and only Heuer 02 caliber to feature our carbon hairspring. Until then, this revolutionary component had been reserved only for the TAG Heuer Carrera H02T Nanograph tourbillon model. The uniqueness also came from the decorative elements of the movement with entirely handmade details using a very special technique: a rare graté decoration. Applied by hand, this created the checkered-flag motif seen on the movement’s bridges and its surroundings, which carried further special engravings.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Pro 1000 Superdiver

The bezel and Caliber TH30- 00 movement of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Pro 1000 Superdiver

DAMAN: What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment in your career?
Carole Forestier-Kasapi: As a creator I am always looking forward, never back. So, the biggest accomplishment is the one to come, the one I am still finetuning and am excited to reveal next.
DAMAN: How about at TAG Heuer? What do you consider to be the highlight of your time as TAG Heuer’s Movement Director?
Carole Forestier-Kasapi: The aspect of my role I am most passionate about is without a doubt my work on strategy: Imagining and implementing a plan for movement development which is an integral part of the overall brand positioning strategy, creating movements which echo and enhance the desirability of TAG Heuer timepieces.