September 25, 2009
by Ariel Adams
I love that Tag Heuer made this watch. I don’t love that I can’t afford it, but at least a few people can. Tag Heuer is hoping that 150 people bite. The first of 150 pieces of this new Tag Heuer Monaco V4 watch will be auctioned off at the Only Watch 2009 charity watch auction. The other 149 of them are up for grabs. Tag Heuer has been known to make interesting watch concepts that that are eye catching, but I don’t know how often they ever actually made the watches. With the average price of a Tag Heuer watch retailing at probably $2,000 this is a major step up. I wonder watch is going on at LVMH (parent company) that made this possible.
You of course get that the “V4” name is meant to remind you of a car engine. So is the look of the movement as seen through the rear of the watch. The four turbine looking cylinders as the four corners of the movement are each the mainspring barrels. Together they hold 52 hours of power reserve for the watch. You’ll notice that on the front and year of the watch there are a number of belts, just like in an engine. These transmission belts are cool to look at and replace many of the smaller gears that connect the larger gears. These are called pinions. The transmission belts are constructed in the same way as those in engines, just miniaturized. Meaning they still have a metal wire going through them for strength. And like those on engines, likely need to be replaced every… few 100,000 miles, or hours of operation in this instance (guessing on when they will need to be replaced, but you know they will be at some point).
Other than the use of transmission belts in the movement, the big thing is the use of micro ball bearings instead of synthetic rubies between the gears and the movement plate. Tag Heuer claims that the ball bearings have less friction that the rubies. You also have the linear weight that serves as to winder the automatic movement. Basically, as you move your hand the weight moves up and down (as opposed to oscillating in circles). It does not have a lot of travel room as you can see, but Tag Heuer says the system works quite well. What is also impressive is just how accurate the movement is. Tag Heuer says that the movement deviates by just plus or minus 4 seconds a day. Well within Chronometer range.
Each watch movement takes 165 hours of labor to hand assemble, and represent something special among the Tag Heuer line. From sub $1000 quartz watches up to this Tag Heuer Monaco v4 limited edition watch that retails for $80,000 (I have also seen indications that Tag Heuer my have raised the price to 100,000 Swiss Francs, at least in Europe).
Above image via Time Tapesty, with courtesy from Raphael Too.
Technical Specs of the watch straight from Tag Heuer:
5 NOTCHED BELTS INCLUDING 2 WITH INTERNAL STEEL REINFORCEMENT WIRE
3 DIFFERENT TRANSMISSION BELTS, OF 0.25 X 0.07 mm, WITH A LOAD TO 130g
2 IDENTICAL BARREL BELTS, OF 0.5 X 0.15 mm, WITH A LOAD TO 1’300g
11 MICRO BALL-BEARINGS OF 2.2 TO 4 mm DIAMETER AND 0.6 TO 1 mm THICK
6 NOTCHED PULLEYS INCLUDING THE ESCAPEMENT PINION REPLACING THE TRADITIONAL PINIONS AND WHEELS
2 PAIRS OF BARRELS IN SERIES, SET IN PARALLEL AND INCLINED AT 13°, STORING 450g OF ENERGY EACH: 900g TOTAL STRENGTH
AUTOMATIC WINDING SYSTEM
LINEAR MASS WITH DOUBLE RACK RAIL: 12g TUNGSTEN INGOT
28’800 VIBRATIONS PER HOUR
STRENGTH COLLECTING SYSTEM SET ON A MICRO BEARING AT 12 O’CLOCK
2 DISCHARGE RATCHETS WITH GEAR CUT AT 13°
ANNULAR BALANCE WITH 3 ARMS MADE OF GLUCYDUR
« TOP » QUALITY SWISS BALANCE-SPRING WITH MICRO BLAZED FINISHING
« RAQUETTERIE » WITH FINE ADJUSTMENT BY ECCENTRIC SCREW
52-HOUR POWER RESERVE
AVERAGE ACCURACY PER 24H: +/- 4 SEC
RANGE max 310°, min 210°
SMALL SECOND AT 4
PLATINUM 950 CASE
BEVELED EDGE AND CURVED SAPPHIRE GLASS
HAND-SEWN BLUE ALLIGATOR STRAP
FOLDING BUCKLE WITH DOUBLE SAFETY PUSH-BUTTONS IN PLATINUM 950