No more TAG Heuer timing equipment

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,527
16,740
1,063
Penticton, BC
TAG last week notified its timing equipment distribution partners that it has ceased production of all timing equipment in order to focus on its Connected Watch product system. Operations have been relocated from Switzerland to France and the existing distribution agreements will end Dec 31 this year. A third party organization will handle sales and support of existing inventory for five years.

TAG Heuer products are ubiquitous in the world of ski racing and most other sports where timing plays a major role. The world market for such hardware is tiny and so the product is more or less hand made, making it quite expensive. Tough pill to swallow for ski clubs and other sport non profits who saved hard to purchase pricey timing gear that will no longer be supported. Worse again in ski racing since timing devices must be homologated every 5 years by FIS regulation. All TAG devices run out in the period 2023-25 and cannot be legally used after that. You'll be able to use that $4000 time base as a fancy stopwatch for hand timing and that's about it.

Not sure yet what happens to their VOLA software package but it is likely on the shelf as well, no more updated releases or support.

Our club favours the Austrian made Alge equipment but I've used TAG lots of the years and like it. Lucky for us but there must be a lot of pissed off clubs out there this week.
 

currawong

Old but not so Crusty
Ski Pass
Sep 17, 2003
42,435
34,603
1,563
Kiewa Valley
that's a big blow to lots of people. I'm only very loosely involved in timing but I can understand the impact. even the mob i help use a little bit of TAG gear - and i think it's only to meet FIS requirements.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jonathan_P

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,527
16,740
1,063
Penticton, BC
The three key devices in the system are all homologated: start gate, finish photocell and timer. And the systems are duplicated, so you need two timers, two photocells and a start gate with twin contacts. If you purchased all TAG you're now looking at five devices that won't be legal to use in a few years.
Start gate 800
Photocells 2 @900
CP 545 timers 2@3000
Total 8600 plus tax and shipping. That's a big mouthful to chew for a club. At least most gear is compatible so they can replace whichever device runs out of homologation first, maybe it's the start gate, with an Alge or Microgate unit and run another season or two until the next item has to be replaced.
 

crackson

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Oct 20, 2006
12,358
12,403
813
I would be surprised if another player didn't take over.

Longines?
 

Red_switch

Old n' Crusty
Ski Pass
Jun 5, 2006
26,194
12,405
1,063
Dunedin, NZ
Alternatively, as is being seen in cycling (and many other sports) the technology is at a point now where new players can provide the right gear, in much more compact form factors, at a much reduced cost. UCI compliant timing systems can be had for at least one, and in some cases two, orders of magnitude less cash now than they could a few years ago.
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,527
16,740
1,063
Penticton, BC
Not completely sure of the business relationship there, Vola may or may not be co-owned or part owned by TAG. A no frills version of the software has been packaged with the timers for a fair number of years now. I've used Vola a few times, it does the job. WMSC chief of timing loves it. My main beef is their live timing is so expensive, and a bit clunky as well compared to the simple SST site.

Love the TAG photocells for shooting intervals right across a speed track. Even at LL where there is A net and slip skirt both sides of the track, they still somehow see through that whole mess. The big red light is easy to see from a long way back so they aim easily and have a big sweet spot. Fortunately there is no homologation for interval and speed trap timing eyes so that will become their primary use once they are no longer legal as finish eyes.
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,527
16,740
1,063
Penticton, BC
Alternatively, as is being seen in cycling (and many other sports) the technology is at a point now where new players can provide the right gear, in much more compact form factors, at a much reduced cost. UCI compliant timing systems can be had for at least one, and in some cases two, orders of magnitude less cash now than they could a few years ago.
Not for FIS though. They are ultra conservative and won't go wireless for many years, if ever. Most sports have embraced wireless but there is still a small reliability issue. FIS literally wrote the book of standards on elapsed timing for sport and won't easily back away from those. Hell, we still have that antiquated start wand that restricts us to .01 sec results when every other component in the system is capable of .0001 accuracy. (Mount a photocell directly below the wand and use that as the actual timing trigger and you could keep the look and tactics of the wand system but move to .001 sec reporting and virtually eliminate ties for medals).

We have increasing volume possible in transponder based systems so the price and accessibility factors are improving as you say, but FIS will stick to its gold standard of double-redundant wired systems. The components will continue to be more or less hand made in central Europe in relatively tiny quantities because they're only necessary in a niche sport. That and the need to make them tough enough to remain accurate in the harsh alpine environment will keep them expensive.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bigwhite-rameok

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,527
16,740
1,063
Penticton, BC
I would be surprised if another player didn't take over.

Longines?
Longines and Omega are still homologating hardware, but it's not available for over the counter sale. Those brands, along with Swatch, Hublot, Tissot etc are all labels used by the Swiss Timing group. Even when this year's branding for media is, say, Tissot, the devices they use on snow will be Longines or Omega. The Swiss watchmakers created the timing group years ago as a cost effective way of participating in sports timing/branding.

Really the only widely distributed brands now for ski racing are Alge and Microgate. Doubtful there's enough market to incent someone else to step up.
 
  • Like
Reactions: crackson

Seth

I am figure skating
Ski Pass
Jun 6, 2000
44,148
25,185
1,525
The Higher Ground
Not for FIS though. They are ultra conservative and won't go wireless for many years, if ever. Most sports have embraced wireless but there is still a small reliability issue. FIS literally wrote the book of standards on elapsed timing for sport and won't easily back away from those. Hell, we still have that antiquated start wand that restricts us to .01 sec results when every other component in the system is capable of .0001 accuracy. (Mount a photocell directly below the wand and use that as the actual timing trigger and you could keep the look and tactics of the wand system but move to .001 sec reporting and virtually eliminate ties for medals).

We have increasing volume possible in transponder based systems so the price and accessibility factors are improving as you say, but FIS will stick to its gold standard of double-redundant wired systems. The components will continue to be more or less hand made in central Europe in relatively tiny quantities because they're only necessary in a niche sport. That and the need to make them tough enough to remain accurate in the harsh alpine environment will keep them expensive.
They may not have a choice. You can have all the standards you want but if your market is so niche no one wants to build for it you might just have to give a little.
 
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,527
16,740
1,063
Penticton, BC
They may not have a choice. You can have all the standards you want but if your market is so niche no one wants to build for it you might just have to give a little.
Remember TAG was supplying timing equipment across many sports. They and the other two players all have a lineup of wireless hardware which is used in many sports and also in skiing for training and entry level events. But still precision sports timing is a comparatively small industry with little of the classic path to profitability: consumables. You'll never see sales of timers and peripherals in the millions of units annually, there's no mass consumer market and no demand for new devices every couple of years.
 

Seth

I am figure skating
Ski Pass
Jun 6, 2000
44,148
25,185
1,525
The Higher Ground
Remember TAG was supplying timing equipment across many sports. They and the other two players all have a lineup of wireless hardware which is used in many sports and also in skiing for training and entry level events. But still precision sports timing is a comparatively small industry with little of the classic path to profitability: consumables. You'll never see sales of timers and peripherals in the millions of units annually, there's no mass consumer market and no demand for new devices every couple of years.
That's my point.

FIS can have whatever standards they like however if it the niche becomes increasingly costly/irrelevant to the manufacturers then they will all stop making it and FIS will have to take whatever the market provides.
 

currawong

Old but not so Crusty
Ski Pass
Sep 17, 2003
42,435
34,603
1,563
Kiewa Valley
That's my point.

FIS can have whatever standards they like however if it the niche becomes increasingly costly/irrelevant to the manufacturers then they will all stop making it and FIS will have to take whatever the market provides.
would cause huge pain to smaller clubs and racers before it got to that point.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sly_karma

sly_karma

Green Bastard
Ski Pass
Dec 12, 2005
22,527
16,740
1,063
Penticton, BC
Is there a niche for people in the homologation team to set up as freelance homologators?
Interesting. Perhaps an employee group forms a small business that buys the stock of existing timers and then presents examples for renewal of homologation as the current certificates expire. That would keep all the units out in field legal for another five years, but where's the return for this investment group? TAG make lots of timing accessories that don't require homologation, such as display boards, start beepers, optical isolators etc, but they've walked away from all of it. Really if they had any decency and respect for their customers they would have announced continued support for their core hardware and one more round of certification. That would have given existing owners 7-10 years of use and plenty of time to save for purchase of new gear.
 

FREDERIC PATTON

First Runs
Mar 22, 2021
1
1
1
We welcome anyone who wants to keep their investment in TAG Heuer equipment going. We have a decent stock of gear and are aggressively trading in hardware if clubs and resorts wish to. We operate globally in cooperation with other distributors like Event Timing. We will NOT run away from this like everyone else in North America has. TAG Heuer Timing lives here at Phoenix Sports Technology and Pro Timing Solutions ! Just contact us info (at) phoenix-sports.com
 
  • Like
Reactions: sly_karma
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Log in

or Log in using
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass