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Latest Monaco V4 watch takes the belt to the tourbillon


March 31, 2014

The Monaco V4 Tourbillon on display at Baselworld 2014

The Monaco V4 Tourbillon on display at Baselworld 2014

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Ten years ago, TAG Heuer unveiled its Monaco V4 Concept Watch, which was the world's first watch to incorporate belt drives, linear mass and ball bearings. In 2009, the watchmaker released the production version, simply called the Monaco V4. At Baselworld 2014, we recently spied the latest incarnation, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon. It's reportedly the first watch to ever feature a belt-drive tourbillon complication.

Like its predecessors, this watch features a V-shaped main plate on which the movement's four barrels are mounted at an angle to one another, looking "like the cylinders in a Formula One motor-racing engine." It also still has the form factor of the iconic TAG Heuer Monaco watch worn by Steve McQueen, in the 1971 movie Le Mans.

What's different this time around is the fact that its transmission belts, which are no thicker than a human hair, have been incorporated into a tourbillon complication.

As explained by TAG Heuer, "a tourbillon is a mechanical system for regulating the speed at which a watch beats." While this is usually done by placing the balance wheel and escapement within a rotating cage, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon's unique arrangement apparently eliminates backlash on the tourbillon, resulting in "the absolute fluidity of its rotation."

Other stand-out features include a black titanium and sapphire case, an automatic linear rewinding system, a mass that's guided by a linear railroad as opposed to the traditional rotating system, and barrels that are held and rotated on ball bearings.

You can see the inner workings of the Monaco V4 Tourbillon in the video below. The watch should be available later this year, priced at 150,000 Swiss francs (about US$169,600).

Source: TAG Heuer

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Surely devices such as this are more for impressing others than actually telling people what the time is.

I have an eight pound (sterling, not avoirdupois!) watch which has a very clear dial that is extremely easy to read. Furthermore, it keeps excellent time compared to my clock that monitors radio time signals delivered courtesy of an atomic clock. I need nothing more from a watch. If it breaks, then I will pop round to where I bought it and buy another one.

If anyone thinks the less of me for owning such a device, then I would count that as a plus because I really cannot stand those sort of people anyway.

When I used to dine out el fresco in Spain, one of the drawbacks was being pestered by the 'looky, looky' men, who go from table to table selling cheap watches and the like. One of them used to advertise his wares with the cry: "Genuine Rolex copies!" Whenever I see someone wearing an expensive looking watch today, such as the one in this article, I wonder how much the Looky, Looky man charged them for it. So much for creating an impression!

Mel Tisdale

Watches like this fall into that group of consumer items sometimes called "positional possessions". That is, they do exactly what you suggest in your opening line, Mel: They establish your position within groups where money (how much you have) is important. Anyone who can spend nearly $170K on a device that merely tells time has a lot of money. Looks aren't the issue as this is, in my opinion, an ugly watch. Accuracy isn't the issue as one can buy watches that synch up to the atomic clock in the USA for $25. This is not to say that the design, engineering, and craftsmanship of the watch aren't outstanding. But the important thing is that the super--rich need super-expensive versions of regular consumer items to differentiate themselves from those with less money.

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