Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tag Heuer Monaco V4

Having pushed quartz movement technology to the extreme edge of performance, TAG Heuer has turned its engineering and design prowess to the mechanical movement. Despite the many revolutions that have occurred at the heart of timekeeping, little has changed in the heart of the mechanical movement. The traditional contrivance of a kinetic chain of pinions still rules the day. What type of horological innovations will the 21st century bring? None of consequence, say most connoisseurs of the watchmaking scene; they have all been invented already. Wrong: TAG Heuer designers and developers have once again shaken the foundations of watch movement design and broken with tradition in several key areas. TAG Heuer’s best engineers and watchmakers, working with the inventor and designer Jean-François Ruchonnet, began delving into the fundamental concepts of mechanical watch movement two years ago, under the strictest terms of confidentiality. What began as an idea and a blank piece of paper is now the Monaco V4 Concept Watch, which can be admired for the first time at Basel Fair 2004. The components and bottomplate of the V4 were engineered and machined at the TAG Heuer workshop in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, then assembled and finished by a famous Swiss master watchmaker. The name V4 derives from the movement's four barrels, which are mounted on a V-shaped main plate angled at 15 degrees, like cylinders in a high-end motor racing engine. It also pays tribute to the movement's inspiration: while the V4 draws from the newest concepts in industrial technology, its true muse is the world of high-tech, high-performance racecar engines. Like a car engine, the fundamental mechanical dynamics operating upon a watch are: transmission, friction, torque and power. Working from this parallel, TAG Heuer's team of designers, watchmakers and engineers hit upon three paradigm-shifting responses to the traditional dictates of watchmaking. These traditions dictate, for example, that a movement’s power must be transmitted by wheels; that rotating axes need to have synthetic rubies as bearings; and that an oscillating weight rotating on its own axis provides a movement’s spring barrels with energy. None of these hold true in the new V4 watch movement. Transmission: 13 notched belts of 0.5 x 0.45 mm.39 ball races of 2.2 mm diameter and 0.5 thick. Energy: 4 barrels storing 375 g of energy each: 1.5 kg total strength. Automatic winding system:Linear oscillating weight: 4.25 g platinum ingot. Movement features: 18 000 vibrations per hour, Small second at 4’30. Stainless steel case. Beveled edge sapphire glass. Alligator strap with folding buckle.