The 50th-anniversary celebrations of the iconic Monaco watch and its early automatic chronograph movement aren’t over yet – it’s still 2019 after all. Yet, after a series of super-limited editions, one for each decade, it is time to come back to regular production watches. On the occasion of this commemorative year, TAG makes an important move on its classic blue dial, 3 o’clock-crown Monaco – the modern one, not the Steve McQueen-inspired model. Say goodbye to the Monaco Calibre 12 and its outsourced movement; say hello to the new TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02, with the brand’s own chronograph movement.
We’re not going to review the full history of the Monaco here, but we’re going to focus on the TAG Heuer era. If you want the full story of the Heuer Monaco (understand the 1969 model), we’ve recently produced an in-depth video that will tell you all about this iconic chronograph watch.
As most of you might know, the early Heuer Monaco wasn’t really successful back in the days, which led Heuer to stop the production by the mid-1970s (around 1974-75). But that’s only the first half of the Monaco’s history. By 1985, TAG Group (Techniques d’Avant-Garde) acquired a majority stake in Heuer, forming TAG Heuer. Aware of the beauty of the vintage Heuer watches and the love surrounding these models, by 1998 TAG Heuer reissued some of its most glorious models.
The TAG Heuer Monaco came back on the market with the reference CS2110, a watch with “Heuer-only” flat black dial, produced in a limited edition of 5,000 pieces and powered by an automatic outsourced movement (ETA 2894, with Dubois-Depraz module). This watch would set the tone for the following 20 years and introduce a case that was later used in most classic Monaco watches. This was also the start of the Monaco’s modern chapter, which also shows that an automatic movement and a crown at 3 o’clock used to be the norm for these contemporary watches.
This first re-execution of the Monaco was a commercial success, leading TAG Heuer, in 1999, to introduce the reference CS2111, an evolution of the previous watch, with a more sculpted black dial featuring a tri-compax layout, recessed sub-dials, faceted applied indexes and elongated markers.
But when it comes to THE classic model, the real deal is the reference CW2113, a watch launched in 2003 and the first Monaco under the LVMH guidance. This watch comes with several noticeable features: it was the first true square-shaped model, with a 39mm x 39mm case (the 2 models above are 40mm x 38mm); it was also the first with a TAG Heuer logo; and it reintroduced a blue dial, so iconic to this model. Inside, once again, was a modular movement, an ETA 2894-2. It evolved in 2009 to become the reference CAW2111, with calibre 12 inside, small visual updates, sapphire caseback, 100m water-resistance…
This model is easily recognizable with its sunray-brushed blue dial and its radial applied indexes. While the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 reference CAW211P, the Steve McQueen-inspired model, is a vintage re-edition of the 1969 model with horizontal markers and matte blue dial, the current Monaco Calibre 12 watch remains the “standard, modern” watch. But… This is the end of an era, as the Monaco Calibre 12 is no longer produced (well, not entirely, but more on that in our next article).
The new TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02
Same… but different. While a quick look won’t give you a hint of whether you’re looking at the old or the new model, the change from the ETA-based Calibre 12 movement to the new in-house Heuer 02 implies that almost the entire watch has been updated. Because the Heuer 02 has different dimensions and a slightly different layout, the case and the dial had to be updated too… but only with minor amendments, thankfully. The look and feel are that of a Monaco, don’t worry.
The new TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02 retains the essential, meaning all the elements that have made the Monaco successful and easily recognizable. The case of this new version still has the cult square design, and even though the engine that runs inside is larger, it still measures 39mm x 39mm. The bezel is still vertically satin-brushed, the top of the lugs are still polished and the flanks are satin-brushed too. On top, we still find the nicely executed, yet very exposed chamfered sapphire crystal. Being the replacement for the Calibre 12 model, the pushers and the crown are both located at 3 o’clock. Water-resistance is still rated at 100m.
So what changes on the case…? Not many actually, except for just a bit more thickness on the case, due to the Heuer 02 calibre. The caseback also changes, with a larger window on the movement. The final evolution – and a good one – is to be seen on the crown. As the watch now features an integrated movement and not the modular ETA/Dubois Depraz calibre, the crown and the pushers are located on the same level. Apart from these mostly technically driven evolutions, the look is just about the same.
Being a modern, slightly more classic version of the Monaco and not a vintage-inspired watch, this TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02 is worn on an alligator strap, executed in dark blue and secured to the wrist by a folding clasp. No racing-inspired strap here, but you can always change that.
Regarding the dial, the implementation of a new movement implies quite a few evolutions. The dial with its sunray brushed blue style, the radial applied and faceted indexes, the circular seconds track with luminous dots, the TAG Heuer logo and the rhodium-plated hands are all the same. Also, no changes regarding the contrasting white sub-dials and the red chronograph hands (central and sub-counters). Yet, as you can see, these counters are now recessed and are chamfered on the periphery.
Also – and that’s where the main evolution is – the new TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02 is a tri-compax watch. For years, the Monaco has been delivered with a bi-compax layout, with small seconds and 30-minute counter. Now, the two white sub-dials are dedicated to the elapsed minutes and hours. In addition to that, the Monaco Heuer 02 features a small seconds, which has been discreetly implemented at 6 o’clock, with just a crosshair. In fact, it even overlaps the date window: a nice trick to keep this watch balanced.
Now, the big deal. The movement. The ETA/Sellita-sourced Calibre 12 is out and instead, we have the brand’s internally developed and manufactured movement, the Calibre Heuer 02. No need to say, the change from an old-school modular movement to a modern, integrated movement with column wheel and vertical clutch is to be seen as a major improvement (and good point, the price isn’t too affected).
The Heuer 02 was first introduced on the new Autavia, back in 2017. This movement, which serves as a base for the tourbillon watches too, is slowly finding its way in all the collections – Autavia, Carrera. The Heuer 02 is an interesting calibre, with modern integrated architecture and proven technical solutions – column-wheel and vertical clutch, with a sharp start of the chronograph and smooth operation of the pushers. It ticks at 4Hz and offers a comfortable 80-hour power reserve. It is visible through the caseback and finished in an industrial but not unpleasant way – Geneva stripes, blackened rotor, red column wheel.
Apart from the (possibly) debatable positions of the small seconds and automatic mention, this new TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02 only brings positive evolutions to this classic, modern version. While visually it is not a revolution but a very discreet evolution – which in this context is clearly positive – the watch benefits from a major mechanical update that adds a lot of content to this piece, and added value for the customer, without being reflected massively in the price.
The new TAG Heuer Monaco Heuer 02 reference CBL2111.FC6453 will be priced at EUR 5,400 (or CHF 5,800 or USD 5,950), which has to be compared to the EUR 4,900 required for the now-discontinued Calibre 12 model reference CAW2111 or the EUR 5,250 required for the Steve McQueen Calibre 11 reference CAW211P.
More details at tagheuer.com.