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Amazing New Tag Heuer: Monaco V4

November 19, 2009

When we were at the Basel Watch Fair in Switzerland in 2004, Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Christophe Babin was excited to show us the latest “concept watch” from their laboratories. The watch he showed us, the Monaco V4, was revolutionary in its design.

Inspired by automotive engineering, the movement featured transmission belts in place of traditional wheels and pinions and micro ball bearings in place of rubies. The oscillating circular winding mechanism found in most automatic watches is replaced in the Monaco V4 with a linear winding system that moves up and down like a piston. Four barrels, visible from the back of the watch, provide the watch’s 52 hour power reserve.

Technically it was astonishing and visually it was arresting. Unlike any watch I had ever seen, it was a true reinvention of the mechanical timepiece. It was a fitting piece for Tag Heuer, a company deeply associated with motor racing and whose very name connotes the cutting edge. (TAG was originally an acronym that stood for Techniques d’Avant Garde).

It took five years of painstaking development, but the production watch has finally been released. I say it is now a “production” piece to differentiate it from the “concept” watch we saw five years before.

It will remain extraordinarily limited as only 150 examples of the watch will be made.

The revolutionary movement is housed in a platinum Monaco case and it will sell for 80,000 US dollars.

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