Revolutionizing the fundamental principles of mechanical watchmaking
The Monaco V4 replica watch is the world’s first watch with belt drives, linear mass and ball bearings. Industrialized and entirely hand manufactured in TAG Heuer workshops, this double patented timepiece is the next step forward in the evolution of TAG Heuer’s iconic squared-faced Monaco — the audacious chronograph first seen on Steve McQueen’s wrist in the 1970 race film classic, Le Mans. This breakthrough innovation redefines the accepted conventions of watch engineering and aesthetics.
The MONACO V4 is an incredible achievement which took the TAG Heuer R&D teams five years of relentless effort to turn into a commercial reality. The patented belt-driven transmission is a high-yield relay of five notched micro drivebelts whose tension is controlled by two turnbuckles. A second patent was granted for the innovative linear mass, replacing the classic oscillating mass. Mounted on the world’s smallest ball bearings, the 12g tungsten ingot moves up and down between two pairs of V-shaped barrels (hence the name V4). The barrels are angled at +/- 13 degrees, like the cylinders of a high-performance racing engine.With its square shape and automatic chronograph, the MONACO V4 recalls the original Monaco series. But its complex design, clearly visible through sapphire glass front and back, shows how truly evolved watchmaking can become. The case of latest V4 is made of Titanium Grade 5, a special alloy used in aircrafts, turbines and surgical implants. The MONACO V4 TITANIUM AND CERAMIC boasts completely revisited finishes, with a high-resistance black ruthenium coating on the main plate and Côtes de Genève decorated bridges. The beautiful black juxtaposes superbly with the white “V4” and “TAG Heuer” engravings on the dial.
Part of this think-tank was Jean-François Ruchonnet, an innovative designer and computer-imaging expert, who is also known for the equally amazing Cabestan vertical tourbillon. It is Ruchonnet who took his inspiration from cars and imagined a new type of replica watch movement that used belts instead of the traditional gears. Assisting him in these early stages was master watchmaker, Philippe Dufour. Together with the TAG Heuer team, they turned an interesting idea into a concept and then the hard part- into a movement that would work on the wrists of customers- the Calibre V.
Think of the Monaco V4 as a replica watch designed around a movement. The Calibre V is radically different to traditional movements, which typically rely on a system of gears powered by a rotating oscillating weight, with friction reduced by the use of synthetic rubies. The Calibre V takes a totally different approach on each of these.
The first thing that you notice sitting in the centre of the movement is a tungsten ingot that slides up and down on rails. A gear system on the side of the weight transmits this up-and-down movement into a rotating movement. The movement has four barrels set at a slight “V” angle (about 12 degrees), like the cylinders of a V6 or V8 engine and is the inspiration for the name of the watch.
The power is transmitted by a series of micro-thin belts, which were one of the most challenging parts to getting the movement to work. The first design had belts that were too thick and created too much friction. The belts are one of the few parts that TAG Heuer does not make in-house, being supplied by a company in the Defence sector. Each one of these 13 alloy belts can support a weight of more than 40 Kilos.