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Robust and Durable The role of the case is central to the watch. It provides a means of protecting the dial and movement from dust and moisture as well as harmful shocks. TAG Heuer makes many cases within its own facility, produced to exacting standards. A case starts life as a piece of metal. Lengths of flat metal are fed into a stamping machine. The rough case is punched from the metal sheet using colossal pressure, between 40 and 80 tonnes.
The metal is then tempered for 35 minutes at a temperature of 1080° C. Thereafter, the process is repeated with the case being stamped again, then tempered and so on, typically between 10 and 16 times. By adopting this approach, additional details can be introduced to the case with each successive stamping process.
Once the case has completed the stamping process, its shape must be refined. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines feature a series of tools which are programmed to engage with the case, honing its profile into the desired shape. The CNC machine is incredibly complex, able to mill two cases simultaneously, employing a robot to load and unload pieces. The machine is extremely difficult and time-consuming to program, incurring much expense.
Once the case conforms the finest standard, it is then polished. Consistent with many other aspects of TAG Heuer’s production, the company utilises automated methods of polishing. In some instances, an intricately shaped case has to be polished using manual techniques. Watchmakers place the case against a rotating buffer wheel, manipulating its position in order to achieve a blemish free result.