TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition

The TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition is the third model in the anniversary series, made to commemorate the 50th year of the Swiss marque’s square-shaped chronograph. This detailed review includes images, specification details and pricing.

This year, the Heuer Monaco celebrates its 50th anniversary. Its square case, the unconventional positioning of the crown and the angled chronograph pushers have been retained ever since the inaugural version of 1969. Over the years, the lugs have grown marginally wider and the movement has been updated, consistent with the widespread business ethos of ‘continuous improvement’.

Despite some notable exceptions, the Monaco’s dial has always remained blue and the avant-garde brand has never strayed from the original model’s dial topography. However, TAG Heuer, keen to recognise this important landmark in its history, recently announced the release of five limited edition Monaco models, each referencing a different period in history. The Swiss watch marque has granted its design team much freedom to creatively style each reference. To date, the brand’s designers have focussed their attention on the dial epidermis of each model, retaining the case and movement found on the standard, non-limited watch. So far, the appearance of each limited edition timepiece has proved spectacular, vindicating the decision to allow the design team to fully explore its creative potential.

The Swiss firm has chosen to release each limited edition reference, one at a time. Initially, the brand unveiled the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition, thereafter the gorgeous TAG Heuer Monaco 1979-1989 Limited Edition and now, this latest reference, the TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition. This most recent watch references a period of my life which I look at with sepia-tinged spectacles and reminds me of a time when I had hair and sung along to my cherished Oasis. TAG Heuer has cleverly recognised that everyone likes to look at a former era and sentimentally recall the past.

While my review of the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition explores  the history of this legendary square watch and its dial, case and movement, this feature focusses on the TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition and, most specifically, its prepossessing smile.

The dial

The TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition retains the torso of its non-limited siblings but sports a new face. This latest model, restricted to just 169 pieces, is suffused with a granular complexion. I cannot recall another version of the Heuer Monaco sharing the same textured vista.

 

The highly polished baton-style hour and minute hands feature a liberal application of luminescent treatment and vivid red, triangular tips. The svelte central seconds hand is presented in a bold shade of red and steps forward from the grey-toned backdrop, heightening readability.

In his book, ‘The Times of My Life’, Jack Heuer reveals an unwavering obsession for legible dials. This is evident when holding the classical blue dial Monaco. The Swiss brand has never wavered from this design philosophy. When examining the dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition, its peerless legibility is clear to see. Moreover, beyond its notable functionality, the dial wonderfully effervesces with originality and style.

Consistent with Monaco lore, the dial is endowed with two registers. The leftmost register displays the running seconds while a 30-minute chronograph register is positioned opposite. The square registers share the design of the 1969 original and feature straight sides and rounded corners. Both counters are presented in silver, framed with blue tracks marked with silver-toned strokes.

A circular minute track, depicted in blue, subscribes to Monaco tradition. Each 5-minute integer is marked with a blue dot and red stroke. Reading off the elapsed time using the central chronograph seconds hand is a matter of child’s play. Everything is crisp and clear.

At no stage could anyone accuse the Monaco of looking like its counterparts. The positioning of the crown on the right flank, the prominent sapphire crystal and the angled chronograph pushers are highly original. Likewise, the baton-shaped indexes are aligned east to west, imbuing the dial with a slightly idiosyncratic appearance.

The date, positioned at 6 o’clock, is framed with a neat white border.

The TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition, along with its forebears, not only exudes a high quotient of style, but also proves very practical. The prevailing time is imparted succinctly. Furthermore, the central chronograph seconds hand and 30-minute register prove intuitive to read and there is no lag between observation and understanding.

The case

The Swiss firm, based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, is clearly mindful of the Monaco’s legendary status. Any limited edition would always need to incorporate certain aesthetic prerequisites for it to be considered a Heuer Monaco. The avant-garde brand has shrewdly retained the famous square case, truncated lugs and aforementioned angled pushers.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition

Nevertheless, TAG Heuer has embraced some new ideas, equipping the Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition with a blue calfskin strap, incorporating ebullient red stitching. It upholds the historic model’s perforated design but ventures off-piste with the new cheerful colourway.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition

The TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition is fitted with a solid caseback, marked with two engravings, ‘1989-1999 Special Edition’ and ‘One of 169’.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition

The movement

Like the first two anniversary models, the TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition is fitted with a modern-day version of the Calibre 11, measuring 30mm in diameter. The movement has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz), contains 59 jewels and harnesses sufficient energy to deliver 40 hours of autonomous operation.

When discussing the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition, I explored the history of the Chronomatic Calibre 11 movement including its influence on the location of the crown on the left flank of the case. While the position of the crown is no longer a consequence of the movement architecture, it has been retained for the delectation of traditionalists.

Closing remarks

By creating a series of anniversary models, TAG Heuer implores the watch buyer to embrace nostalgia. The TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition references the 1990s, a period I would describe as my salad days. A few notes from a former song, a visual reference from the past or an item of period clothing invites the mind to reminisce. Clearly, TAG Heuer understands the allure of nostalgia very well. Each of the three limited edition models to date have asked would-be wearers to look back to the past and quaff each creation’s period influences.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition

Image – TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999 Limited Edition

In my opinion, all of the TAG Heuer Monaco anniversary models have played the nostalgia card very skilfully. For example, the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition wonderfully captures the green, beige and brown hues that were so prevalent at the time.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition

Image – TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition

TAG Heuer Monaco 1979-1989 Limited Edition

Image – TAG Heuer Monaco 1979-1989 Limited Edition

The original Heuer Monaco cast aside the prevailing convention and mediocrity of 1969. It challenged the established ideas of watchmaking with thought-provoking details and breathtaking originality. With the passage of time, this watch has become an icon and an established part of the horological landscape. By releasing these limited edition creations, TAG Heuer reminds us how 50 years ago, the company’s designers set aside the rules and created something revolutionary. Now, the Swiss avant-garde brand has shown once again its capacity to produce imaginative designs and an impressive degree of creativity that shows no signs of waning.

Further reading

https://www.tagheuer.com/geo/node/11890/

Technical specifications

  • Model: TAG Heuer Monaco 1979-1989 Limited Edition
  • Reference: CAW211X.FC6468
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 39mm; water resistance 10 ATM (100 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and solid caseback
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
  • Movement: Calibre 11automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 59 jewels; power reserve = 40 hours
  • Strap: Perforated black calfskin strap with polished steel folding clasp
  • Price – £5350 (RRP as at 8.7.2019)
  • Limited Edition: 169 pieces