**Do not delete** An interview with the owner of the piece unique TAG Heuer V4 in STEEL

Mar 15, 2010,20:16 PM

Unveiled in 2004 but delivered only late last year, the TAG Heuer V4 has been the subject of fluctuating levels of interest and speculation. Many wondered if it would be made at all. Originally devised by Jean-François Ruchonnet, one of the people behind the Cabestan, with input by Philippe Dufour, the V4 is a reinvention of the driving train of a watch.



This watch is about rethinking the driving train and energy generation of a mechanical watch. The escapement remains the conventional Swiss lever escapement because changing that was not the intention of its creators.


Wheels and pinions have been replaced by belts made of polyether block amide 0.07 mm thick. According to TAG Heuer, this system of belts and gears is more efficient than traditional wheels because no intermediate wheels are required to transmit power from one point to another.


And instead of the oscillating rotor, the V4 has a pair of tungsten weights that travel on a linear track set on an incline. These weights are mounted on the smallest ball bearings ever made: 2.20 to 4.00 mm diameter and a thickness of 0.6 to 1 mm. 




Energy generated by the weights is stored in four barrels set on a platinum base plate. The barrels are angled and arranged in a 2 x 2 configuration like in an engine, hence the name ‘V4’.


Because of the unique nature of many of the parts in the V4, for instance the belts and the tiny ball bearings, TAG Heuer had to turn to suppliers outside the watch industry. 150 of these will be made in platinum, but one piece was been made in steel.


Here we speak with the owner of the only steel TAG Heuer Monaco V4 in the world. This gentleman is an accomplished watch collector with sophisticated taste. Amongst other things he owns an uncommon Vianney Halter Antiqua in platinum as well as the Urwerk 202. He tells us why he had to have a V4 and how he ended up with this piece unique.




Su JiaXian (SJX) : What drew you to the Monaco V4 in the first place?


Harry Potter (HP) : What drew me to the watch is the revolutionary concept of driving belts and ball-bearings instead of conventional wheels and pinions. The use of a weight resembling the piston of a car is also interesting and visually pleasing.




For centuries, mechanical watches were driven in the traditional method. I felt the concept watch was bold, daring and visionary. When I saw the concept watch, it was clear this had to be part of my collection.




I made several enquiries to merchants as well as LVMH [the owner and distributer of TAG Heuer], but there was no definitive answer as to when the watch would be launched. The anxiety of owning it at times shifted to uncertainty if the watch would be produced at all. 


What was pleasing was TAG’s commitment to this and then the production of a prototype, and finally the fine-tuning to make it a worthy watch.


SJX : Since you are a car enthusiast, did the automotive inspiration of the V4 make it extra appealing?


HP : The automotive inspiration of the V4 makes it more significant for TAG Heuer and brings its back closer to its roots as an auto sports watchmaker which has created iconic pieces like the Steve McQueen [Monaco].  I don’t think it is that important for TAG Heuer to be associated with motorsports today, but the concept just added more meaning.  Perhaps in the years ahead if one looks back, [the V4] could be one of TAG Heuer's moments in creating another iconic watch, though this was not what I was looking for [when I bought the watch].


I believe the appeal of V4 is not just confined to car enthusiasts.  The revolutionary concept and the breakthrough in production should also appeal to the horological world and anyone looking for something different. There are two elements here: the concept and then production. TAG Heuer managed to accomplish both. There are watch makers who come up with concepts, but never bring them to fruition.




SJX : And why steel? Can you also tell us how you managed to land the unique piece in steel?


HP : The reason for getting this in steel is its uniqueness – it is the only one in the world – and because also it is the original material [in which this watch was presented as a prototype].


How I got to buy this is largely luck. It was during another visit to the retailer, [after which I went to] LVMH.  LVMH told me the working watch was then on the wrist of its CEO [Jean-Christophe Babin], who had just left the LVMH store and was departing Singapore that very day.


I thought that meant no chance to see it. Then [the store manager of the retailer] called to say the CEO was still in his outlet. I quickly made my way back there. Mr. Babin probably sensed my enthusiasm and conviction that I had to have the watch. A little more persuasion and eventually Mr. Babin agreed to make this unique piece for me.


SJX : In your collection, where does this fit? Alongside the exotic independents or watches from established brands?


HP : The V4 fits more alongside the exotic independents like Urwerk, MB&F, [Vianney Halter] Antiqua and F. P. Journe.


SJX : The movement finish of the V4 is not up to traditional high horology standards, do you think that matters for this watch?


HP : I would look at this watch from the angle of its innovation and break-through after all the re-working and fine-tuning to make it time worthy.


SJX : Thank you.


More photos of thi piece unique below.























This message has been edited by SJX on 2010-03-15 20:22:42 This message has been edited by SJX on 2010-03-15 20:23:59 This message has been edited by SJX on 2010-03-24 08:30:27

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**Do not delete** An interview with the owner of the piece unique TAG Heuer V4 in STEEL

 By: SJX : March 15th, 2010-20:16
Unveiled in 2004 but delivered only late last year, the TAG Heuer V4 has been the subject of fluctuating levels of interest and speculation. Many wondered if it would be made at all. Originally devised by Jean-Fran├žois Ruchonnet, one of the people behind ...


 By: aldossari_faisal : March 16th, 2010-00:55
thanks for posting SJX and thanks for the watch's owner. Faisal

Thank you very much

 By: InHavenPro : March 16th, 2010-01:45
SJX for this report and for the great interview with the very lucky owner of this truly magnificent timepiece! Best Regards, Filip

Thank you. A watch I really like. [nt]

 By: VMM : March 16th, 2010-02:19
No message body

Thanks for sharing...

 By: Rob : March 16th, 2010-07:27
the nice story as to how the owner came across a piece he was searching for. To come across a piece unique at that is just one for the ages, truly a stroke of luck! Sometimes it is the search for dream pieces that makes one enjoy this hobby the most, at l...

The story how he managed to land it

 By: SJX : March 16th, 2010-07:33
is the best part of the story. Imagine chasing down the CEO of a watch company just to take a look at his watch. Well actually no need to imagine, I am sure many of us here have done something similar one way or another! - SJX

What a thrill to see this watch and read the story!

 By: Ginger : March 16th, 2010-08:18
Thank you for sharing. I confess that a lot of the very special and ultra complex watches presented on this forum inspire awe but not love in me. This one's clean lines and unique and revolutionary engineering are inspiring. I am so happy for this rare co...

Clean lines

 By: SJX : March 16th, 2010-19:15
I agree about its aesthetics. I especially like the bevelled crystal, it is unusual and attractive. - SJX

Thanks for the interview, SJX!

 By: dxboon : March 17th, 2010-22:48
It's an impressive "reach" piece for TAG Heuer. I commend them for putting it into production, even though it's not quite for me. That being said, I think this steel piece unique is an incredible addition to the anonymous owner's collection. Congrats to t...

Very interesting looking piece.

 By: Davo : March 21st, 2010-10:20
Thanks for sharing.