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The New TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph

TAG Heuer celebrates the 55th anniversary of its iconic watch with the release of the Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph, marking the return of the complication to measure two separate time intervals concurrently to the brand's catalogue.

| By Denis Peshkov | 5 min read |

The anticipation soared when TAG Heuer unveiled a one-of-a-kind Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph for Only Watch in 2023, sparking hopes for its integration into the permanent collection. While the brand had previously dabbled in split-seconds or rattrapante chronographs during the 1960s, primarily as stopwatches for sporting events, it wasn’t until quartz technology that this functionality found its way into wristwatches. Despite this legacy, the mechanical split-seconds chronograph eluded TAG Heuer’s repertoire until last year. With the introduction of the new calibre TH81-00, TAG Heuer has finally re-entered the realm of rattrapante, marking a significant milestone.

For its debut, the new TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph arrives in two versions, each distinguished by racing red or classic Monaco-blue accents and echoing the avant-garde design ethos of the Only Watch edition. Encased within a black DLC-coated titanium 41mm square-shaped, 15.2 mm thick case, which undergoes meticulous brushing, sandblasting, and polishing, the timepiece exudes a bold aesthetic. A polished sapphire bezel frames the bevelled, domed sapphire crystal, ensuring a clear view of the inner workings beneath the transparent dial. Turning to the caseback, another bevelled, polished, and screwed sapphire crystal opens a panorama of the newly introduced calibre. The construction of the case guarantees 30 metres of water-resistance.

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The one-of-a-kind Monaco Rattrapante for Only Watch 2023.

At the 3 o’clock position, a titanium crown adorned with the TAG Heuer shield logo in red or blue lacquer is flanked by finely brushed and polished titanium chronograph pushers, boasting a familiar design. On the opposite side, low push-button protectors, also crafted from titanium, safeguard the split-seconds function activator-pusher at 9 o’clock, featuring a red or blue aluminium tube, depending on the model. The red-accented Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph’s dial exudes a distinct energy that contrasts with the softer finesse of its blue counterpart. The interplay of red elements against the black and grey multi-level background creates a palpable tension.

At first glance, attention is drawn to the striking red-lacquered skeletonized central split-seconds hand, accompanied by smaller red-lacquered chronograph counter hands positioned at 3 o’clock for the minutes and 9 o’clock for the hours. These hands stand out against the square-based black opaline sub-dials, featuring subtly rounded corners and white markings. Adding to the visual interest, the round minutes track boasts crisp white printed markers and applied white and red hour indices, drawing the eye further into the dial.

Rhodium-plated skeletonized hour and minute hands are treated with white Super-LumiNova and feature vibrant red tips, enhancing legibility. The rhodium-plated, brushed central chronograph hand assumes a secondary role, almost resembling a shadow, while the petite rhodium-plated polished hand, delineating the running seconds, is subtly highlighted by its silver contour, preventing it from being lost amidst the intricate design.

The sapphire crystal dial unveils black DLC-coated, finely brushed, sandblasted, and polished titanium arches flanking both sides. The applied TAG Heuer logo, placed just above the midpoint, is positioned in the centre of the vertically brushed plate. A discreet engraving of “Monaco” adorns the dark grey surface above the polished logo. The chronograph sub-dials feature a white-printed “Rattrapante Chronograph” designation; additionally, the Swiss origin is declared adjacent to the 6 o’clock marker on the track.

The blue iteration of the Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph exudes a more refined demeanour, perhaps appealing to a broader audience by dialling down the “aggression” while retaining its inherent sporty allure. This variant maintains the white-red hour indices and the vibrant red tips on the handset, preserving its dynamic aesthetic. Distinctive in its presentation, the rattrapante hand, chronograph minutes and hours counter hands, and the polished titanium arches are coated in varying shades of blue, featuring a gradient effect on the arches and split-seconds hand. Complementing this colour scheme, the counters boast a sleek white opaline finish with contrasting black markings.

TAG Heuer approached the design of the new Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph with meticulous attention to detail, aiming to spotlight the standout feature: the rattrapante TH81-00 movement, developed in collaboration with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, renowned for their expertise in movement construction. The foundation of the TH81-00 movement lies in Vaucher’s integrated, high-frequency, column-wheel chronograph calibre Seed VMF 6710 showcased in its split-second evolution in timepieces like the 2017 Parmigiani Fleurier Chronor Anniversaire as PF 361 and the Tonda PF Split Seconds Chronograph, unveiled in 2021, as an upgraded PF361. It was also adapted for Richard Mille’s rattrapante chronograph RM 65-01.

Collaborating with Vaucher to develop TAG Heuer’s version of the movement, tailored to the brand’s specifications while building upon a proven foundation with versatility and reliability, is a commendable feat. Crafting a chronograph movement from scratch, especially one with a split-second function, is a rare achievement in the watchmaking industry. TAG Heuer’s partnership with Vaucher exemplifies a commitment to quality, a commendable approach, which TAG is rightfully proud to announce.

Visible through the sapphire caseback, the automatic calibre TH81-00 shares similar specifications with the VMF 6710, being a column-wheel-equipped high-frequency movement operating at 36,000 vibrations/hour. Yet, it is different, modified, with the split-seconds module and crafted with a fair share of titanium components. With a robust power reserve of 65 hours (55 hours when the chronograph is running), calibre TH81-00 is wound by an oscillating weight bearing the iconic TAG Heuer shield shape, featuring a brushed finish and a hand-painted red or blue stripe for added visual flair. The centre of the bridge showcases a distinctive checkerboard pattern, emphasizing TAG Heuer’s racing and timekeeping heritage. Additionally, with its meticulously polished bevels, the finely brushed balance wheel bridge is a testament to the brand’s attention to finishing of this new edition of the iconic Monaco.

The new TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph is worn on a hand-stitched red or blue calfskin strap embossed with a fabric pattern. It is closed with a fine-brushed titanium butterfly folding clasp with a black DLC pin buckle. The watch features safety pushers and a fine adjustment link. It is priced at EUR 135,000 and will be available in June this year.

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