Oct 29, 2009

Gears of Bore: The World’s First Belt-Driven Watch

belt driven watch monaco v4 tag heuer Gears of Bore: The Worlds First Belt Driven Watch

Love it or hate it, Tag Heuer’s Monaco V4, listed at $100,000 Swiss Francs ($97.5K usd), bucks all conventional wisdom; replacing the traditional time-honoured gears approach first pioneered in the 18th century for belt-driven technology most common in car engines. The Sifter explores this disruptive watch design:


HISTORY

– The original Tag Heuer Monaco featured an audacious, squared-off case that signalled a complete break with conventional watch making aesthetics. It was first seen on Steve McQueen’s wrist in the 1970 classic race film Le Mans

– The original Monaco was the world’s first automatic chronograph with a micro-rotor (launched in 1969 by Jack Heuer, today TAG Heuer’s Honorary Chairman). The powerful new movement housed in the Monaco V4 is a tribute to the high-tech, high-performance world of motor racing

– In 2004, TAG Heuer unveiled the Monaco V4 Concept Watch, the world’s first watch with belt drives, linear mass and ball bearings. It hass taken 5 long years, but on the eve of its 150th anniversary, TAG Heuer has unveiled to the world the double-patented Monaco V4

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REVOLUTIONARY DESIGN

– The watch movement uses a series of transmission belts instead of pinions. The belts are the smallest in the world and still have a thin steel wire in them for strength

– Instead of smaller gears connecting some of the larger gears, there are the belts that do it. The V4 uses a linear weight that moves up and down to power the watch’s movement, resembling a piston in an engine

– Power is stored in four barrels that are seen in the rear of the watch (hence the V4 name). The power reserve is 52 hours and the watch is very accurate at about plus or minus 4 seconds a day, well within the chronometer range.

– The watch also uses mini ball bearings instead of ‘rubies’ that are commonly used in watches for low friction between gears and palettes. Tag Heuer says that the ball bearings provide even less friction than the commonly used synthetic rubies

– The watch does not have much for functions though. Just the time with a subsidiary seconds dial

– 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)

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LABOUR OF LOVE

– According to Tag Heuer, the Monaco V4 watch took them 14,200 [combined] days of research and development to make. TAG Heuer’s best engineers and watchmakers worked with inventor Jean-François Ruchonnet to craft this revolutionary design

– The techniques used in the design, prototyping and production of the V4 are the same as those used to develop complex aerospace systems. Tools, techniques and expertise were drawn from an eclectic fusion of disciplines, such as the automobile and IT industries, applied mathematics, chemistry, climatology, computer engineering and micro-mechanical sciences (so they used computers?)

– New TAG Heuer-designed machines and methods were specially created, including proprietary software (TAG Heuer is a pioneer in 3D modeling and digital synthesis), automated micro-couplers and rheologically controlled high-pressure injectors

– Today, the Monaco V4 are hand-assembled at TAG Heuer by ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ watch master Denis Badin, thus bringing the timepiece full circle: from the most cutting-edge techniques of the present era to the most time-honoured traditions of artisanal craftsmanship

– Each watch movement takes 165 hours of labor to hand assemble, and represents something very special amongst the Tag Heuer line

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TAG HEUER MONACO V4 SPECIFICATIONS

Limited edition of only 150 pieces in 170 grams of platinum
Movement: Automatic Belt-driven transmission watch
Tungsten ingot linear mass
2 pairs of barrels in series, set in parallel and linked by belts
Dial: 7 silver fine-brushed bridges with “haute horlogerie” hand-finishings
Escapement and belt-driven transmission visible from the front
Hand-applied faceted indexes
Faceted polished Rhodium plated blue minute and hour hands with luminescent markers
Blue small second hand at 4 o’clock
Blue “V4” engraving
Monochrome blue engraved TAG Heuer logo
Case: Polished Platinum 950 case

Beveled sapphire crystal glass with double-sided anti-reflective treatment to ensure the best readability
Sapphire case back in 3 sections
Polished white gold crown at 3 o’clock
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Blue alligator strap with hand-sewn blue stitching
Folding buckle with safety push-buttons in Platinum 950

Availability
1st batch (75 pieces): November 2009
2nd batch (75 pieces): June 2010
Estimated MSRP: $100,00 Swiss Francs

This probably has the worst musical selection for a luxury brand product video, ever

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SOURCES

All information via two excellent Watch blogs. I highly recommend you visit both sites for extensive reviews, news, and information regarding watches:
http://watch-happening.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-watch-tag-heuer-monaco-v4-limited.html
http://ablogtoread.com/tag-heuer/tag-heuer-monaco-v4-limited-edition-watch/
– Don’t bother with the wretchedly designed Tag Heuer site



If you enjoyed this article, the Sifter highly recommends: The Bladeless Fan by Dyson

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