TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic
Last year, TAG Heuer celebrated the 50th birthday of an icon. The Heuer Monaco was one of former CEO Jack Heuer’s finest contributions to watchmaking (and, unwittingly, the silver screen). Following a rush of special edition timepieces dropped in 2019, TAG Heuer treats us to three more references (two dial colors) in the same vein. As 2020 slides towards non-existence, the TAG Heuer Monaco reminds us that it is still a relevant player in the sports chronograph category, now more than half a century after its debut.
It’s tough to do the same thing over and over again while remaining interesting. Even though I am not a huge fan of the TAG Heuer Monaco, I respect it plenty enough to have enjoyed the five celebratory editions released in 2019. My favorite from that bunch? The 1979-1989 red-dialed issue that supposedly represented the year of my birth. I rarely consider square watches. Even less often do I countenance purchasing a red watch. But that Monaco must have had an effect on me as when TAG Heuer released the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique limited this May, I found myself oddly charmed.
Here, however, we have some far somberer releases to chew over. Although three references exist here, there are just two new watch heads — one with a black dial, one with a blue. The third reference comes courtesy of the black also being offered on a black leather strap instead of the bracelet.
A heart of gold
No, not literally. The Calibre Heuer 02 manufacture movement that powers these beasts is not made from gold, but it is a precious piece of kit. On these editions, it is visible through the case back. In my opinion, that is the best thing about this pair — the movement looks really awesome with its black rotor, red detailing, and red column wheel.
It ties in nicely with the dial colorway (although considering they can never be viewed simultaneously this isn’t a big deal), but, most crucially, it fits with the edgy, dynamic, need-for-speed vibe every Monaco should aim to exude. And, aesthetics aside, it’s a pretty solid movement specs-wise. An 80-hour power reserve makes it “weekend proof”.
An appreciated call back
Dial side, these models are inspired by the Monaco’s 1970s antecedents. The sun-ray brushing used on both dials adds a dash of luxury (and seems to reduce the size of the piece on the wrist) to the usually sports-first approach. I like the softer approach (and especially appreciate the rounded corners of the sub-dials). The black would be a neat option in any collection, but the blue is, to me, the slightly better option simply because its color is a call back to the classic Monaco set-up from 1969.
It comes on a what now?
It comes on a bracelet. You don’t believe me? Look at the pics. I swear to God. For the first time in almost 20 years, the Monaco is being presented on a bracelet. This new tapered edition is based on the H-link design from the ’70s. It has polished square center links and brushed H-links forming the bulk of the band.
I’m not a fan of bracelets with a central line of polish at the best of times, and, in my opinion, the Monaco should always be worn on a strap. It could be leather. It could be rubber. I don’t mind if it is solid or perforated — you choose. But a strap is essential for me. As such, I’m not too excited about this addition but I will be interested to see how it is received by you guys (let me know if you like it or not in the comments below).
However, there are two good things about the new Monaco bracelet, in my opinion. Firstly, I like the fact it is tapered. That’s smart. Secondly, I really like the chamfered edges on the links. I’m really into this right now. I feel like the bracelet looks well-made, but even that wouldn’t convince me to give it a try.
One more reason to like it (if you simply love birthdays)
Oh, and if you need an anniversary to hang every release on, these novelties coincide with the Heuer brand’s 160th anniversary. If you were searching for any extra purchasing motivation to pull the trigger on this Monaco, there you have it. You can thank me later…
If you do want to add one of these new Monaco’s to your racing stable, the bracelet versions come in at €6,200, while the black-dialed baby on the black leather band retails at €5,800. Neither piece is limited. My advice? Get down to your local TAG Heuer dealer to see how they sit on your wrist. For a Monaco, I think that’s a crucial experience. Learn more about TAG Heuer here.