TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition
The TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition is the latest creation from the Swiss brand, specially produced to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the square-shaped watch much loved by horophiles and petrolheads alike.
This year the avant-garde Maison from La Chaux-de-Fonds is celebrating a special anniversary, the Heuer Monaco is 50 years of age. However, unlike some fiftysomethings, the Monaco still looks as fresh as the day it was born.
The Heuer Monaco will forever be associated with the inaugural model’s stunning blue dial. However, the company has occasionally embraced a variety of alternative dial hues, keen to offer something different for the delectation of collectors.
A few months ago, TAG Heuer announced it was producing a series of five limited edition Monaco models, each with its own unique dial design. Each limited edition references a 10 year period, commencing with 1969, the year the first Heuer Monaco burst onto the watchmaking scene.
The first three limited edition models, each restricted to just 169 examples, have been unveiled at various motorsport events around the globe. However, this latest model, the TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition, has just been launched in Japan at the ‘Monaco Through Time saga in the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures at the Tokyo National Museum’.
While the brand has temporarily veered away from motorsport venues, its decision to launch the new watch in a museum makes much sense. Like TAG Heuer, Japan has an empathy for beauty and iconic design.
On learning that the dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition was black, my mind reminisced about the much coveted Heuer Monaco ‘Dark Lord’. This watch, harking back to the early 70s, featured a black dial, was housed in a black DLC case and incorporated cheery orange detail. This timepiece exhibited a sinister air.
However, the new TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition exhibits a fresh-faced innocence. Yes, the dial is predominantly black, but it encompasses liberal use of white tones and judiciously applied smatterings of orange and red detail. Quite simply, it looks handsome and trustworthy.
A new look
The main dial epidermis is presented in a black opaline finish. It sidesteps glossy exuberance, tastefully assuming a muted appearance. The shape of the hands conforms with those found on the original 1969 model. Each hand is faceted, features a generous dose of luminescent fill and sports a red triangular-shaped tip. On some Monaco models, where the luminescent treatment ends a red line extends to the heal of the hand. However, the TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition eschews this latter detail, conferring a cleaner appearance.
In common with other Heuer Monaco models, the minute track is circular, creating a contradistinction with the square-shaped dial area. In this instance though, the minute track is not merely a series of discreet strokes, but a prominent and very broad white circlet. It delineates the black central area of the display from the black-toned outer regions of the dial.
Red batons and orange dots denote each 5-minute interval gracing the minute track. The pairing of two distinctly different colours works wonderfully. In between each 5-minute marker are neat black strokes, both long and short, efficiently articulating 1-second and ¼-second integers.
TAG Heuer has shrewdly upheld the use of horizontally applied, silver-toned indexes, first seen on the 1969 original. Likewise, the baton at noon is lined with a generous application of red tone along its centre, again perpetuating Monaco tradition.
While the registers are square with rounded corners, as per the iconic original, on this limited edition model they feature a fresh-faced white border. This subtlest of detail makes the registers stand out, drawing the eye to the information presented.
In contrast, the date aperture is framed with a thinner border. The result is the date assumes a deferential role to the other dial elements. It would appear the Swiss watch brand has cleverly played with the thickness of the borders framing the registers and the date aperture, to make the wearer assign greater importance to some indications rather than others. This intelligent design logic illustrates that TAG Heuer’s design department is incredibly shrewd at refining the minutiae.
A sense of familiarity
The Heuer Monaco is a shining exemplar of iconic design, sitting on a high plane along with the Volkswagen Beetle, Le Corbusier Chair and the Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 pen. TAG Heuer is clearly mindful of the legendary status of its Monaco. While the dial shows some wonderful flourishes of ingenuity, and in some areas embraces clean-sheet design, it remains true to the principles of the original. Quite simply, the dial is square, features a bi-compax layout, date display and horizontal indexes. Traditionalists can sleep peacefully.
In terms of the case, this latest limited edition shares the same physique as the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition. To learn more about the history of the case design, modification of the push-pieces, the reason for the crown being on the left side and, lastly, the solid caseback, please refer to this review.
The TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition is endowed with the modern-day Calibre 11, incorporating 59 jewels. It has been a stalwart for the Maison for a number of years. However, its name can be traced back to the Chronomatic Calibre 11, said by many to be the first automatic chronograph. Again, my review of the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition provides sufficient background information for even the most inquisitive horophile.
TAG Heuer has preserved the essence of the Heuer Monaco by retaining many of the elements which define this groundbreaking watch. Even the perforated black leather strap continues to endure with its appearance emulating the racing gloves of yesteryear.
The masterful design of the Heuer Monaco original continues to exhibit an abundance of eye-appeal. Its allure has never faded with the onset of years and its appearance remains youthful and fresh-faced.
With any iconic product, the potential risk for the custodian of its design is losing the essence of what made it special in the first place. There have been several instances of timeless products being mismanaged and the precious magic of the original ultimately being lost.
TAG Heuer’s design team should be applauded for retaining the essence of the Monaco while daring to explore new stylistic elements. The appearance of TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition is the becoming consequence of the brand’s eye for detail and design virtuosity. With just 169 examples of this watch available, each featuring an engraved caseback attesting to this fact, I suspect this attractive creation will be snapped up by the fortuante few.
- Model: TAG Heuer Monaco 1999-2009 Limited Edition
- Reference: CAW211Y.FC6469
- 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 11; automatic 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 24.9.2019)
- Limited Edition: 169 pieces