The Tag Heuer Monaco V4 is the ultimate time machine. And I don't mean that in a "it would let you open portals in the time-space continuum to discover a new dimension with an army of buxom ultra-vixens that will obey all your commands and conquer the galaxy for you" way (my idea of the ultimate time machine, anyway), but as in "it's one of the most amazing wonders of mechanical engineering in the world today".
The Monaco V4 changes completely the rules of watchmaking by, surprisingly, getting its inspiration from car engines. Like mechanical watches, engines use the same concepts: transmission, friction, torque and power. The Tag Heuer First applies them in a different way so first, instead of a rotating oscillating weight for automatic winding, it uses a 4.25-gram platinum ingot which acts as a sort of cylinder, in a linear movement. Then it changes the transmission of power from the traditional wheels to a drive-belt transmission: 13 belts with a gauge measure of 0.5 x 0.45mm, which is quite crazy and has never been done before. More amazing details and a pic of the front of the watch right after the jump.
The Monaco V4 also uses 2.2mm diameter bearings with 0.25mm balls rotating inside, rather than synthetic rubies to reduce friction, but the most impressive thing that our correspondent witnessed in Baselworld 2007 was the four barrels, as shown in the top pic. They act as energy generators with bridges made of transparent sapphire. According to TAG Heuer page,
"... four barrels aligned in a 2-by-2 series and linked by a differential with a V-shaped bridge. Each barrel gives a force of 375 grams for a total of 1.5 kilos. The barrels are mounted in a V (angles at 15° with respect to the dial) and two constant velocity joints, also borrowed from the automobile world, transmit their energy to the movement."
So, as you can see, no silicon was harmed in the creation of this watch, discounting the computers that were used to design and simulate its new principles during the 36 months of development after the concept was presented in 2004.
Unfortunately for watch and technology lovers, and fortunately for my credit card, there's not a single Monaco V4 available except the 20 beta versions they presented in Switzerland last week.
Technical specs Transmission: 13 notched belts of 0.5 x 0.45 mm 39 ball races of 2.2 mm diameter and 0.5 thick
4 barrels storing 375g of energy each: 1.5 kg total strength
Automatic winding system:
Linear oscillating weight: 4.25g platinum ingot.
18 000 vibrations per hour
Small second at 4'30
Stainless steel case
Beveled edge sapphire glass
Product Page [Tag Heuer - Thanks Fernando]