Generally in conversation when I tell people I am a watch writer they normally mention Tag Heuer more than any other brand. Essentially the reason for that is because the company has such an interesting history. Edouard Heuer established the business over 150 years ago in St-Imier, Switzerland. Amongst his many achievements he patented an ‘oscillating pinion’ for mechanical chronographs and many clocks for automobile dashboards. Originally the company was called Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG and later in 1985 changed its name to Tag Heuer. Subsequently Tag Heuer was taken over by French luxury goods giant LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) in 1999.
Prior to Baselworld I had never had any direct communication with Tag Heuer. This wasn’t a conscious decision because I absolutely love their watches. On this visit I decided it was time to try and rectify this. As I have mentioned in previous articles most meetings are conducted strictly on an appointment basis especially with the very large groups (located in Hall 1) as normally senior personnel have scheduled their diaries months in advance. Fortunately I am on good terms with the Public Relations Director Marine Lemonnier-Brennan so I was able to get access to some of their exquisite timepieces. Previously Marine worked for Hublot and was appointed by new CEO Jean-Claude Biver to assist in reshaping Tag Heuer.
Even though I tried on a few stylish timepieces my personal favourite was the Monaco V4 Black Phantom. Amazingly this watch looks even better in real life and the images definitely do not do it justice. Dimensionally the watch is smaller than many others I tested at Baselworld and measures a discreet 41mm x 41mm. These more subtle proportions suit the style of watch and should appeal to a wide variety of buyers. Generally the timepiece sat very comfortably on my wrist and felt exceptionally lightweight. Principally this is down to the elegant case design and choice of high performance CMC (Carbon Matrix Composite) material used in production. Personally I feel this watch would be suitable for both formal and casual occasions.
Visually the Monaco V4 Black Phantom has a really cool and contemporary industrial appearance. The term V4 refers to the V-shaped main plate (which carries the four barrels) and is inspired by the cylinders of a Formula 1 car. However this modern design still captures the spirit of the Monaco worn by the legendary Steve McQueen in the classic 1971 film Le Mans. I absolutely love the aesthetic of this 2015 version especially the carbon case and matt black/dark grey open worked dial with 7 CMC bridges. The use of this cutting edge material is new for Tag Heuer and illustrates the positive influence Jean-Claude Biver has already had on the brand. Overall the composition is refined and the finishing is absolutely first rate.
Beneath the contemporary façade lies a highly sophisticated self-winding movement. This caliber comprises 48-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz). Each of the 268 components has been meticulously decorated, assembled and finished by hand at TAG Heuer’s production facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. This spectacular mechanism is visibly showcased through two sapphire crystal windows. Functionally the Monaco V4 Black Phantom features hours, minutes and small seconds. The timepiece also has a power reserve of 42-hours.
The Monaco V4 Black Phantom is limited to 50 pieces and has a matt black alligator strap with matching titanium carbide coated deployant buckle. Priced at: $45,000.
For more information about Tag Heuer visit the company’s website: http://www.tagheuer.com