TAG Heuer has brought out the definitive version of its remarkable Monaco V4 watch in 2009, the timepiece that marked a revolution in timekeeping engineering. The launch of this model is crucial, because 2010 marks the 150th anniversary of the company and the comeback to the introduction of innovation that had aided to build up the brand name in its early years, and especially 1916 when Heuer introduced the first 1 /100 second chronograph to the world.
When Jean-Christophe Babin, President and CEO of TAG Heuer, was asked regarding the purpose of the Monaco collection in the TAG Heuer universe, he said “We have enjoyed a privileged position in the avant-garde sports watch market since 1860, mainly because we innovate more that any other watch brand. Technology design and innovation are the three major components of our brand’s DNA and it is through these that we push Swiss watchmaking ever forward. “The inspiration for the Monaco V4 is the high-end super sportscar-a territory that TAG Heuer has historically occupied since 1911, when it created the ‘Time of Trip’, the world’s first dashboard chronograph. The principle of a notched micro-transmission belt transmission has its roots in automotive design.”
Mr. Babin is rightly proud of the company’s accomplishment in working the V4 Concept Watch into reality. He explains, “The design of the V4 has nothing to do with existing principles of watchmaking. We started with a blank slate and had to invent a new architecture, overcome the problems of 13° angles, and discover a way of winding four barrels using a linear mass… We also had to develop manufacturing processes for belts, some containing metal strands.
“Making the V4 required conceptual data models based on complex physics and mathematical models. The design and implementation of the V4 involved a variety of fields related to engineering and metallurgy in particular, as well as mechanics, digital and formal programming constraints…” The V4 Concept Watch was first exhibited at BaselWorld in 2004, where it probably brought forth more press coverage and interest than any other watch could have done ever. Most individuals were amazed by the bold concept, but several people doubted that it was practical to utilize drive belts instead of wheels and pinions. Renowned Swiss watchmaker Philippe Dufour made the first prototype. It employed a few drive belts but demonstrated to be quite undependable – so much so that the decision to exhibit it in Basel was only finally admitted the night prior to its unveiling. A standby press pack had been produced regarding another product just in case a decision was taken at the last minute to not show the V4.
Stephane Linder, Vice President Marketing and Product Design, who has been included on the project from the beginning, says “The Concept Watch generated massive publicity. As a result, we decided that we had to produce it. The publicity was so successful that it helped us to raise the money to finance the project. We knew it would be expensive to produce, but we didn’t know how expensive and we didn’t know how to produce it.”