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S I M P LY A B U DH A B I
MONACOV4
Revolutionizing the
fundamental principles of
mechanical watchmaking
I
n 2004, TAGHeuer unveiled theMONACOV4 Concept Watch, the
world’s first watch with belt drives, linear mass and ball bearings. It
took the watchmaking world by storm: Best Design at the Grand Prix
d’Horlogerie de Genève, Wallpaper Magazine's "Watch of the Year",
Popular Science's "Best of What's New”. Five years later, TAG Heuer
achieved the unbelievable, unveiling to the world what many industry
insiders said would never see the light of day: the MONACO V4
commercially available to watch aficionados and collectors.
Until the MONACO V4, all modern mechanical movements, regardless
of their complications, were generally based on “classic” watchmaking
components, most of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The
principal components of this traditional system are: an energy reserve, by
means one or several springs; a transmission, using gears; and a regulatory
function, usually organized around a recoil escapement.
Transmission
Gear transmission and automatic rewinding: the V4 team set these aside
and started from scratch. The result is a complete paradigm-shift, two
worldwide patents, and a completely new generation of mechanical
movements.
In a world first, the TAG Heuer award-winning team of watch masters
and engineers replaced the pinions and wheels of the traditional
mechanical movement with a belt-driven transmission: a high-yield relay
of five notched micro drive-belts whose tension is controlled by two
turnbuckles. The transmission belts in polyether block amide have a
0.07
mm section, about the same size as a single human hair, and are 10
times smaller than any belt ever manufactured. Unlike a traditional calibre,
this modular synchronous drive belt system requires no extra gears to send
motion from one point to another. More efficient — less vibration,
optimising movement — and much easier to maintain, it allows power to
be transmitted wherever it is required, allowing for more complications,
with no obstacles.
Energy
The TAG Heuer team then garnered a second worldwide patent by
revolutionising the oscillating mass, which traditionally is superimposed
on the movement and moves in a rotational manner. The Monaco V4 is
the world’s first wristwatch with a linear mass, which is mounted on the
world’s smallest ball bearings (2.2 to 4 mm diameter and a thickness of
0.6
to 1 mm). The 12g tungsten ingot doesn’t move back and forth but
up and down on a track between the 2 pairs of v-shaped barrels in series,
set in parallel and inclined at +/- 13°. Each barrel series stores 450g of
energy for a total strength of 900g. A gear system on the long side of the
weight engages a cogwheel and converts the linear motion into a rotating
movement.
TAG Heuer’s Science & Engineering team has now developed a process
enabling the use of Titanium Grade 5, a special alloy used in aircrafts,
turbines and surgical implants, in the case construction of its most avant-
garde timepiece to date, the MONACO V4 TITANIUM AND
CERAMIC.
The case is 41mm and made of Titanium-Grade 5, with fine-brushed
silicon nitride “ceramic” inserts. The inserts visually lighten the squared
shape of the watch, and the newly angled planes of the beveled crystal give
the watch a more fluid and contemporary profile. Other distinctive
components are the hand-applied faceted indexes on the dial, the small
second hand at 4 o’clock, the thermo-lacquered crown at 3 o’clock, and
the strap’s folding buckle. The strap itself is in ultra-soft, large-scale
alligator, with anthracite hand stitching and a rubberised leather lining.
The V4 movement’s avant-garde architecture, visible through the
timepiece’s anti-reflective sapphire crystal front and back, remains
unchanged (tungsten ingot linear mass, two pairs of barrels in series, set
in parallel and linked by belts), but the finishes have been completely
revisited, with a high-resistance black ruthenium coating on the main plate
and the Côtes de Genève decorated bridges. The beautiful black juxtaposes
superbly with the white “V4” and “TAG Heuer” engravings on the dial.