Introducing The Titanium TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue Limited Edition
This introductory article about the square TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue will not mention Steve McQueen. It will, on the other hand, talk about the emblematic French Racing Blue that once graced famous race cars made by brands like Matra Simca, Ligier, and Alpine. The color and the cars are the source of inspiration for the latest Monaco, a limited edition of 1000 pieces in a titanium case. TAG Heuer and motorsport are closely connected. The Carrera might be commercially the brand’s number one, the square Monaco that debuted in 1969, is the fan-favorite.
The oddly shaped watch—the first square-cased water-resistant chronograph equipped with innovative Calibre 11—got a big boost in popularity when a certain American actor (who shall not be named) decided to wear it in a movie about a car race that lasted 24 hours. The latest iteration of the Monaco is not dedicated to a person, a circuit, or even a specific car but rather to the dominant color of the watch; French Racing Blue.
TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue Limited Edition: like a French race car
Forget about race cars with a red bovine on the side. In the early days of motor racing, sponsor liveries were nowhere to be seen. Race cars were decked out in national colors, and each country had its specific hue. I’m sure you know about the understated British racing green, as well as the otherwise fiery Italian red, But did you know Germany first raced in white cars and not in silver Silberpfeile? Traditionally, French cars wore a coat of blue. And it’s azure blue that graces the sub-dials and strap of the new TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue (CAW218C.FC6548), while a lighter shade is used for the indexes.
When I saw the images of the latest Monaco I didn’t think of classic French car constructors like Delage or Bugatti. Instead, I thought of a race-winning Matra-Simca. The Matra-Simca MS670 that won the 1972 edition of the Le Mans 24-hours endurance race. The car was a Group 5 prototype with a sleek, streamlined body in a heavenly shade of blue. Even more heavenly was the vehicle’s engine, a 3-liter Matra V12 engine that produced 450hp. The sound it made ranged from purring to growling to outright roaring. One of three MS670s, the one with Henri Pescarolo and Graham Hill at the wheel, won the famous race.
As you can see in the picture, the car auctioned a couple of years ago also shows green details. The green and the blue are a perfect match color-wise. But the new Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue doesn’t use that color. Instead, the watch features lime yellow accents. Modern and fresh? Yes. A missed opportunity? Well, if you ask me, I’d say so.
A dial like a dashboard
Apart from the blue and lime yellow details, the dial of the latest Monaco is mostly silver with a sunray pattern. The source of inspiration is the engine-turned dashboards seen in sports cars in the 1920s and 1930s. Also on the dial are eight applied, silvered hour markers and 12 dot markers in the aforementioned light blue. And now we get to the lime yellow accents. First, there’s the faceted baton marker at 12 o’clock, showing a bright yellow stripe. And second, there’s the vibrant, yellow lacquered chronograph’s central hand. More color comes out at night when the hour and minute hands glow blue due to their coating of Super-LumiNova.
The Calibre 11 automatic chronograph movement powers the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue. No, not a restored or revamped 1969 Heuer Calibre 11. You won’t find the famous micro-rotor-equipped, modular movement that beats at 19,800 vibrations per hour. Instead, TAG Heuer used a new Calibre 11 inside the watch. A movement that’s based on a 4Hz, Sellita SW-300, which has a Dubois-Depraz module on top. No micro-rotor, but the distinct crown on the left side of the case remains.
On your left
The movement sits inside a 39 × 14.35mm sandblasted case made of grade 2 titanium that’s water-resistant to 100 meters. This Monaco is not that big. It’s because of its peculiar shape, proportionally quite tall case, domed sapphire crystal, and a lug-to-lug length of 47.4mm that it does take “pole position” on your wrist. The lime yellow and lightweight titanium parts are modernist touches. The blue calfskin strap with perforations, a signature for watches linked to racing, on the other hand, looks a tad retro. But also, the strap features contemporary titanium. And the titanium folding clasp shows an engraved Heuer logo. As this watch is a limited edition, the case back reveals the engraving “One of 1000”. The price of the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue is set at CHF 9,000.
There’s a final thought/idea/request I would like to put out there. Can the good people at Bamford please create a steel Monaco Calibre 11? One with a Matra-Simca blue dial, silver sub-dials, and a green chronograph hand? Looking at the Matra-Simca MS670 on YouTube has had me thinking about a watch like that non-stop. And do you know who I didn’t think about at all while writing about this new Monaco? Steve McQueen. Oh, damn it!
For more information on the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue Limited Edition, please visit TAG Heuer’s official website.