The TAG Heuer range of watches is now composed mainly around two axis. The modern watches first, with the Carrera 01 & 02 Tourbillon, for example. The vintage-inspired watches then, with the Monaco or the Carrera Telemeter. We also know that TAG Heuer will offer collectors a very cool re-issue of the Autavia next year (and you probably chose it via the Autavia Cup). However, this year was the jubilee of the Monza, another icon of the Heuer collection. And as a celebration, here is the TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17. Is it a proper vintage reedition or a modern watch with vintage accents. Let’s find out.
The 1976 Heuer Monza that served as an inspiration for the TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17
The original Heuer Monza was launched in 1976 to mark Ferrari’s World Championship in 1975 with Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, and was on sale until the early 1980s (source: Calibre 11). For collectors, the original and real Monza is the limited edition with Black PVD case, black dial and red accents. A watch with a cushion-shaped case, almost like an egg, with the Calibre 15 (an automatic chronograph movement from Heuer, close to the calibre 11, but with the small second oddly placed at 10), with the distinctive crown at 9 and a black dial mixing two scales: a tachymeter and a pulsometer. This is the watch that inspired the 2016 TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17.
Two reeditions – the Heuer Monza CR2111 and the TAG Heuer Monza Calibre 36 (El-Primero based) – photos by Calibre 11
Later, in 2000, the Monza was re-edited with a very different look and case, still cushion-shaped, but bulkier, more modern and less race-oriented. The watch measured 39mm and was available in several editions (time-only, chronograph, small second, gold or steel…). This case, that most modern collectors know as the Monza, is still, more or less, the one used for the 2016 TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17. Thus, it’s a mix of vintage and modernity that TAG Heuer offers is this year.
If the design of the TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17 might appear rather similar to the 1976 edition at first, it is nonetheless full of noticeable differences. Yes, the overall result is appealing and made quite a strong impression during Baselworld 2016, but we’re more in front of a modern interpretation of a vintage watch rather than a proper re-issue. First, the case is closer in style to the 2000s editions of the Monza than to the original egg-shaped one. It has this squared / cushion shape, with a strongly raised bezel, together with a round aperture for the dial. The 42mm case (that’s 3mm more than before) is now made in grade 5 titanium (sometimes modernity has some advantages…), with flanks polished and flat surfaces brushed. A good point for the choice of material. Usually, watches under 5,000 Euros are using grade 2 titanium. Here, TAG Heuer went for the more expensive and hard to machine grade 5 titanium – the only one that can be polished. The case is then coated with black titanium carbide – much more resistant than the PVD used in the vintage edition.
Just like the vintage one, it also keeps the pushers and crown raw, without black coating. Some will find it rather strange but on the other hand, it brings an interesting vintage look to this TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17 – most early coated watches were like this, without coating on the crown and pushers. The strap is also an ode to the vintage edition, showing the same racing-style, with large perforation. It is made here in full-grain leather (and not in synthetic material like the vintage one… again, modernity has advantages) and comes on a folding buckle, also in titanium and black coated. On the wrist, the watch feels large (like most cushion-shaped watches) and could be seen as too large by hardcore collectors. However, as this TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17 isn’t a proper vintage reedition but a modern interpretation, the 42mm case remains pleasant on the wrist (and light of course).
Another noticeable (and major) difference is the placement of the crown and of the small second indicator. While the 1976 Heuer Monza featured a crown at 9 and a small second at 10 (two strange but iconic features), due to the use of the Heuer / Buren Calibre 15, the modern TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary has a modern automatic movement (calibre 17), meaning a small second classically located at 3 and a crown located at 3 too. That’s actually rather sad that TAG did not used the modern calibre 11, which features the crown at 9… a matter of choices and tastes. This automatic chronograph movement is based on a modular construction and features a 30-minute counter at 9 and a date window at 6 – also faithful to the original 1976 edition.
The dial, even if differently arranged, remains close to the 1976 edition. The inner flange feature the combination of two scales (pulsometer from 12 to 3 and tachymeter from 3 to 12) as well as the same type of decorum for the 30-minute sub-counter – red areas and white inscriptions. The hands, as well as the indexes, are again faithful, in terms of design, to the vintage edition and perfectly fit the 1970s inspiration of this TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary. Finally, inscriptions and logos are close to the original, with for example the use of the historic Heuer logo – that TAG uses on all historical pieces.
Overall, the TAG Heuer Monza 40th Anniversary Calibre 17 is a surprising watch. It mixes a modern appearance with lots of vintage accents. Thus, it is difficult to call it a real reedition of the original Monza, but at the same time, it is immediately identifiable as a successor of this watch. And in the end, the result is rather cool. Finally, the price is reasonable, as is will be available against 4,950 Euros – not that bad considenig the added-value of the grade 5 titanium case.