TAG Heuer Turns Up The Heat With Three New Skeleton-Dial Monaco Watches
TAG Heuer gives one of its most enduring timepieces a serious revamp, mixing a crowd favorite with a bold skeleton-dial approach to mark the 80th Monaco Grand Prix. The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the iconic modern races in motorsport. I remember seeing footage of Formula 1 races in Monaco from the 1950s and 1960s, showing sleek, rocket-like shapes blurred against the backdrop of a beautiful Mediterranean city. It is romantic and heady stuff.
TAG Heuer’s Monaco, a mainstay classic for the brand today, also has strong Formula 1 ties. Actor Steve McQueen wore one in Le Mans (1971), a white-knuckle racing film drama about the 24-hour race of the same name.
Skeletons on display
Today, to mark the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix and the 80th edition of the race, TAG Heuer is introducing three new Monaco chronographs. For the first time in this collection, TAG Heuer is utilizing a skeleton dial for these watches, showcasing the automatic caliber HEUER 02, an advanced chronograph movement that provides a healthy 80-hour power reserve.
Pick your color
The skeleton-dial Monaco models come in three different colorways — “Original Blue,” “Racing Red,” and “Turquoise.” Call me a traditionalist, but the first looks particularly striking, clearly paying homage to the 1969 original. The blue elements across the dial in combination with the white lacquered markers filled with blue Super-LumiNova look pretty sweet.
My second pick would be the one with turquoise accents. TAG Heuer says this color is a small nod to the coastline of Monaco, where the race is held. Regardless of the reasoning, it’s an engaging use of color when combined with the black DLC titanium case. The latter is a clear reference to the dramatic tones of the cult-favorite Monaco “Dark Lord” from the mid-’70s (which Jorg featured here). The third option, “Racing Red,” is somewhat of a bridge between the other two. It provides some of the edginess of the Turquoise version while sticking with the classic red and white racing colors.
The new skeleton-dial Monaco watches all feature sandblasted Grade 2 titanium cases. Logically, that means watches should be lighter than their steel counterparts, though TAG Heuer did not specify the weight. The 39mm cases, crown, and screw-fastened case back provide a healthy 100m water resistance rating. The relatively compact 47.4mm lug-to-lug length is somewhat offset by the 14.7mm thickness. However, when you take into account the water resistance and automatic caliber inside, the dimensions seem right.
I’ve worn the newer Monacos before, and though I have a smaller wrist (~15.6cm), they generally wear well. Yes, a Monaco is certainly a bit of a statement watch with an impactful presence on the wrist. Keeping that context in mind, however, the wearing experience makes perfect sense.
The rest of the details
All three new models display a healthy dose of Super-LumiNova on the indices, minute hand, hour hand, and date wheel. A cool detail — and a first for the Monaco series — is how the lume frames the date in silhouette relief. Therefore, these watches should be just as much of a joy to admire in bright sunlight, where you can see the intricate movement in action, as they are in low light, where the glow of lume comes into play.
It is interesting that TAG Heuer chose to present a sort of half-cut pyramid shape in the lume pattern at 6 and 12 o’clock, with the lumed hour markers at 11, 1, 5, and 7 o’clock merging with a straight band of lume on the inside of the dial. It provides some added three-dimensionality. These watches come on hybrid rubber-leather straps in either black or blue, further adding to the sporty appeal. The Racing Red and Original Blue versions have a price of CHF 10,500, while the Turquoise in its black case comes in at CHF 11,000.
The brand is on something of a strong streak lately, with the new Carrera Chronograph Glassbox raising eyebrows in all the right ways. These skeleton-dial Monaco models, though not my cup of tea, are bold and interesting new additions to the Monaco lineup and fitting new interpretations. Let us know what you think of them in the comments section below, and for more info, visit the TAG Heuer website.