There’s no denying that the new TAG Heuer Monaco Purple Dial is bold and polarising. It creates strong and partial emotions. It’s far from making unanimity, it’s far from the classic codes of sports watches. It is pretty special, period. We introduced the watch about a week ago, and when our editor Erik wrote his article, he remained pretty neutral. It is indeed hard to judge a watch of this kind only on press images and 3D renderings. But now, we had the chance to get our hands on an example of the Purple Monaco… and it’s time to answer the question; has TAG Heuer gone too far this time, or has it created a super-cool watch for a niche audience? Let’s find out.
First of all, rest assured. If you are on the market for something more classic, less polarising, and more in line with the usual style you expect from such a watch, the Monaco is still available as part of the permanent collection in dark blue and in black. There’s even a very appealing, and now toned-down Gulf edition made for motorsport enthusiasts. So do not worry, the emblematic Monaco as you’ve come to love it since the late 1960s is still very much alive and there are less controversial editions to pick up from your local TAG Heuer boutique or retailer.
However, TAG Heuer has also been playing a lot with the model recently, adding special or limited editions to the collection, and in approximately every possible colour available. Think about the much anticipated Green Edition. Or the red-and-silver Monaco GP Historique version. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen the monochromatic Titan version, with its all-grey scheme, or recently the black-and-gold model in DLC-coated titanium. All were pretty cool, and whether you like them or not (no judgement, it remains something personal), they were objectively quite appealing.
And last week came this; a purple dial version of TAG Heuer’s square-shaped, motorsport-infused chronograph…? At first, it may seem like the apple has fallen far from the tree. Historically speaking, it won’t really make sense for hardcore enthusiasts. This watch certainly created strong emotions and, even internally at MONOCHROME, reactions were rather opinionated. Guess what? This is a good thing. While there are several classic, highly-expected editions of the Monaco in the permanent collection to please a wider audience, why not playing with new styles and colours? Watches these days are, after all, a rather unnecessary luxury that we mostly wear for pleasure and fun.
What to think of the watch in the metal? Is too far gone? Does it work? Well, I’m going to speak personally here, as I (surprisingly) do think the watch is really cool. Is it something I’d wear on a daily basis? Certainly not. Is it a watch I would advise to a newcomer, as his/her first luxury watch purchase? Definitely not. When I say it is cool, it really came as a surprise, since I’m usually all about minimalistic, monochromatic and instrumental watches – think Moonwatch, Rolex Explorer or anything pilot’s chronograph. Yet, having now a fairly consistent collection of classic watches, and having been working in this industry for almost a decade now, I see myself looking at original watches differently. The recent Nomos Campus Pink and Purple watches should have been immediately relegated to the very bottom of my wishlist… Until I had them on the wrist and somehow had a crush on the pink version. Weird, isn’t it? Maybe not so much.
What’s somehow very well managed with this new TAG Heuer Monaco Purple Dial Limited Edition is the saturation of the colour, and the way it plays with the ambient light. In a darker room, under neutral light, this Monaco will appear almost black – and in fact, entirely black from a certain distance. It is more discreet in the real world than one would expect. It’s not screaming purple at the face of others. Add to that the gradient effect of the dial, which tones things down a bit more. But, under direct sunlight, thanks to the sunray brushed pattern, the dial suddenly pops and lives. Again, it’s not “in your face” that much. The purple colour is there, but quite well dosed.
In fact, I do think TAG Heuer has been too shy with this watch when it comes to the strap… Why a black, almost old-school alligator leather strap? My suggestion; a custom-made tone-on-tone dark purple strap in grained leather will only do justice to the dial and will actually push the concept to the max, where this watch should be. It’s not meant to be neutral and to fly under the radar. For that, the classic blue edition of the Monaco is a perfect watch.
Who’s the target…? I think it’s wise to say that TAG Heuer has created a watch here for seasoned collectors who have a long list of watches already. I can hardly imagine this watch being a daily-beater since I’m sure at a certain point, you’ll get bored and will want to move to something else. However, when worn on more special occasions, it can really generate emotions… And that’s actually what luxury watchmaking these days is also about.
I certainly don’t ask you to agree with me on this personal take. I know that many fans of the Monaco will find this watch simply irrelevant, or out-of-place in the context of this 1970s racing-inspired chronograph. I, however, think it’s cool to see this watch released by a large brand. It’s different, polarising and controversial, but in a good way.