Watches: Tag Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on May 19, 2014

With a brand like Tag Heuer that sells millions of excellent quality mid-price level products, it is easy to forget that it is also an extraordinary research platform in fine watchmaking. Nevertheless, the brand hit the headlines big in 2004 with the avant-garde Monaco V4 Concept that will remain in watchmaking history as the first timepiece ever to incorporate a linear mass, ball bearings and, most importantly of course, to be driven by belts!

Notice the very thin belt driving the Tourbillon cage on the left

After years of research to overcome the inherent difficulty of producing belts thin and strong enough to replace the usual gears, the Concept became a commercial product in 2009. Since then, many versions of the so-called Monaco V4 have been presented including a titanium or rose gold model.

At Baselworld this year, Tag Heuer wrote the next chapter of this fabulous technical adventure with the Monaco V4 Tourbillon which, as you may have guessed from its name, is nothing less than the world’s first watch with a belt-driven tourbillon!

The back of the watch, with the 4 barrels in V4 configuration, with belts here as well

Following in the footsteps of the Monaco V4, this new marvel of technology features a V-shaped main plate on which the movement’s four barrels form the characteristic shape of the cylinders in a Formula One motor racing engine, hence its name. It is housed in a beautiful 41 x 41 mm “Monaco” square case crafted in titanium with a black titanium carbide coating. This frame is paired with a black rubberized alligator strap secured by a black titanium folding buckle. But obviously, the huge achievements lie elsewhere: in the movement.

The amazing accomplishment of Tag Heuer’s watchmaking team is to use a micro-belt, thinner than a single human hair, to drive the rotating cage where the balance wheel and escapement are placed to counterbalance the effects of gravity. According to the brand, this transmission by belt eliminates backlash on the tourbillon and allows for a more fluid rotation of the cage, hence improving the regulation of speed at which the watch beats.

Another important feature of this exceptional model is the presence of an automatic linear winding system. Basically, instead of having the usual rotating mass, the cylindrical mass is guided by a linear railroad and helps storing up to 40 hours of power reserve.

According to what we have been told, and unlike its predecessor, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon is not presented while being at the concept stage: the brand plans on delivering the first models later this year for an estimated price of CHF 150,000. This watch is indeed the perfect reminder of Tag Heuer’s leading role in watchmaking breakthroughs…

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: