TAG Heuer Monaco 2009-2019 Limited Edition
The TAG Heuer Monaco 2009-2019 Limited Edition is the latest, and final, timepiece created to celebrate the Heuer Monaco’s 50th anniversary. Recently, Angus Davies visited the Swiss marque’s HQ and looked at the watch at close quarters.
On the 3rd March 1969, TAG Heuer, at the time named simply ‘Heuer’, held two simultaneous press conferences, one in Geneva and the other in New York. The assembled press and so-called ‘aficionados’ waited to hear the latest news from the Swiss firm, unaware that they were about to witness the unveiling of, what has since become, an iconic watch.
The inaugural Heuer Monaco was, by any measure, a trailblazer. Behind the prepossessing blue face was the Calibre 11, the ‘world’s first automatic-winding chronograph movement’. Seiko and Zenith also unveiled self-winding chronographs in the same year. Both of these firms also proclaim to have been the first, however, the definition of ‘first’ boils down to mere semantics. Quite simply, all three brands were at the vanguard of horology and should be applauded for their achievements.
Jack Heuer, a consummate businessman sought a further means of differentiating his timepiece. Working closely with the brand’s case supplier, Heuer secured an exclusive supply of water-resistant square cases. While square dress watches were not uncommon pre-1969, they lacked the capacity to prevent ingress of water, a prerequisite of all Heuer watches.
While marketing types always look for a unique selling proposition, Heuer effectively had two.
The Monaco’s DNA
The positioning of the crown on the left flank of the case was born out of necessity. The architecture of the modular movement prevented the crown being located on the right flank of the case, as per convention. Once again, Jack chose to use this obstacle as a marketing opportunity, stating that the presence of the crown on the left indicated the watch was automatic. While subsequent calibres would allow the crown to sit on the right side of the case, the die was cast and the model’s legend precluded such changes.
With the advent of new models, the horns grew in width, the case shape subtly evolved and the push-pieces morphed from a capstan-like profile to rectangular projections. However, the bi-compax layout, the horizontal indexes and the perforated leather strap have endured for years. Indeed, this year the watch has been celebrating its 50th anniversary and the DNA of the 1969 original is alive and well and clear to see.
A series of five limited-edition models
The problem with a much-loved iconic watch is that a designer makes changes at their own peril. Mistakes, particularly commercial flops, can have career-ending consequences. Nevertheless, TAG Heuer, an avant-garde brand with a penchant for creativity, announced earlier this year that it would unveil five limited edition models, each limited to just 169 pieces and each referencing a 10-year period.
In producing the five anniversary timepieces, the Swiss firm has set aside the tried and tested formula of the past, creating breathtaking dials which immortalise a bygone era. For example, the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition captured the brown, green and yellow hues which were prevalent at the time. Indeed, I can still recall my clothes, and the furnishings in my parent’s home, incorporating these bygone shades.
Despite the bold use of colour and interesting dial textures, each limited edition TAG Heuer model has stayed true to much of the iconic model’s design language. The case, the faceted sapphire crystal, the angled push-pieces and the perforated strap have been retained with each member of the five member family of limited editions. Indeed, there is no risk of someone not recognising that each limited edition shares most of its DNA with the 1969 original.
Over the years, technology has advanced and know-how has increased. The original Chronomatic Calibre 11 has been supplanted by a modern-day movement, still respectfully called the Calibre 11 in deference to its legendary ancestor. Today’s movement is also self-winding, modular and has a decent power reserve of 40 hours.
TAG Heuer Monaco 2009-2019 Limited Edition
Now, the Swiss marque has unveiled its fifth anniversary edition of the square-cased chronograph, the TAG Heuer Monaco 2009-2019 Limited Edition. The movement, functions and case are identical to the previous four anniversary models and, indeed, the ‘standard’ Monaco.
However, in common with its 2019 anniversary forebears, the dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco 2009-2019 Limited Edition walks on virgin snow, delivering an unprecedented appearance which is destined to get Monacophiles drooling, covetously.
This new limited edition, presented in the brand’s modern-day 39mm case, features a ‘charcoal’ dial. It’s shade is not quite as stark as black, exhibiting a more muted, softly-spoken character. The dial epidermis features a sunray brushed motif which emanates from the canon pinion.
Upholding Monaco etiquette, the TAG typography is set aside and the ‘Heuer’ name is used in isolation, consistent with the branding found on the 1969 original. The faceted profile of the hour and minute hands perpetuates the much-admired Monaco design language. Where the hands differ is they feature black tips instead of red. Moreover, the hands forgo any colour near the fulcrum of the dial and are presented in a brooding black-gold plating.
The topography of the rhodium-plated sunray counters is the same as the standard Monaco, albeit, in this instance, the hands are presented in an ebullient shade of red.
Traditionalists can relax, the horizontal indexes prevail and the double baton at noon is lined with red fill.
At this juncture, I may have whet your appetite for this dose of horological loveliness, well, the best is still to come. One personal highlight with this watch is the case which shuns the gleam of the standard model and sports a stealthy sandblasted steel finish. The dark hues contrast wonderfully with the adjacent gleaming push-pieces.
Another detail which I adore, perhaps marking me out as a ‘geek’, is the date display. This model presents the date in white against a charcoal disc. By adopting this approach, the date stands out, enunciating the numerals presented with the skills of an elocution teacher. Considering TAG Heuer only intends to make 169 examples of this watch, it is remarkable that the company has gone to the trouble of making a bespoke date disc. Quite simply, the brand’s attention to detail is incredible.
Every brand yearns for an iconic model and, without doubt, the Monaco’s legendary standing is beyond reproach. It was ground-breaking 50 years ago and its allure has not diminished with advancing years. Its 50th anniversary deserved to be celebrated and justifiably, TAG Heuer chosen to do so with stylish am .
However, just for a moment consider the responsibility this places upon the brand’s design department. It must create a series of limited edition watches which look fresh and new while upholding the inherent allure of the original. The risk of failure cannot be underestimated and a misguided use of colour, text or shape could quash professional ambitions. Thankfully, TAG Heuer’s design team can sleep easy. All five limited edition models are sublime. There are no ugly ducklings, each creation possesses a pulchritudinous face.
It would be disingenuous of me to say I don’t have my favourites. Indeed, the red-faced TAG Heuer Monaco 1979-1989 Limited Edition is my preferred model from the series, albeit the TAG Heuer Monaco 2009-2019 Limited Edition comes a very close second.
It is often said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and certainly some readers may have their own favourite anniversary model. Rest assured, with this handsome brood of watches, you are unlikely to leave the ball with anything less than a becoming beauty.
- Model: TAG Heuer Monaco 2009-2019 Limited Edition
- Reference: CAW211Z.FC6470
- 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 sandblasted folding clasp
- Price – £5350 (RRP as at 24.9.2019)
- Limited Edition: 169 pieces