TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford
At Baselworld 2018, TAG Heuer stood side by side with Bamford Watch Department, unveiling a new take on a classic watch, the TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford.
Angus Davies reviews the TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford. This detailed article includes live pictures and specification details.
TAG Heuer can trace its origins to 1860 and is known for crafting fine timepieces for the delectation of watch collectors. The Swiss watch brand is now regarded as a leading player in the sphere of horology and an exemplar of avant-garde design.
In contrast, Bamford Watch Department is a comparatively young company, personalising luxury timepieces and, in so doing, imbuing them with a high quotient of individualism. Customising watches is time consuming, hence Bamford Watch Department can only produce a small number of distinctive, ultra-modern timepieces.
On the face of it both companies appear disparate entities. However, when TAG Heuer produced its ‘first official in-house built collaboration’, the TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford, it represented a new chapter for both companies. In particular, it illustrated the synergistic benefits of two very different companies working together.
This is not the first time the two companies have worked together. In 2017, fans of TAG Heuer were invited to customise their favourite timepiece. The success of this project led TAG Heuer to invite the London-based company to help design a new Monaco, bearing the Bamford name on its dial.
The Monaco, a watch harking back to 1969 and renowned for its association with the octane-rich world of motorsport is one of TAG Heuer’s most iconic timepieces. However, despite its greying hair, Bamford Watch Department has imbued the Monaco with a neoteric, futuristic appearance.
The square shaped dial is delivered in an elegant shade of opaline black. At the heart of the dial is a round circlet, delivered in ‘aqua blue’, a shade which is said to be a personal favourite of George Bamford, CEO of Bamford Watch Department. This circlet, or chapter ring, provides a pleasing contrast with the square profile of the main dial epidermis.
The baton shaped hands feature a smattering of blue and include triangular tips which point to the markings on the minute track with laser-like precision.
Two subdials feature on the dial. They are square-shaped with rounded corners and, once again, employ the delightful aqua blue shade. The running seconds is displayed at 3 o’clock and a 30 minute chronograph register is positioned opposite. The symmetrical positioning of the subdials delivers a harmonious aesthetic.
An aperture, positioned at 6 o’clock, reveals the date. The numerals are again delivered in aqua blue, a colour repeated on the luminous date window.
The black gold plated, facetted indexes have a stealthy quality, save for a dash of blue Super Luminova which enlivens their appearance.
At the base of the dial, the name, ’BAMFORD’ is proclaimed in bold, capitalised text. A retro element which I particularly like is the vintage ‘HEUER’ name proclaimed below noon.
Historically, the classical Steve McQueen Monaco has been presented in stainless steel. Indeed, this tough, practical metal has been employed since the inaugural model of 1969. It is therefore interesting to see TAG Heuer and George Bramford set aside this metal for another material, carbon. The carbon case brims with modernity. Its mottled surface confers much interest and a high degree of individualism, a trait often seen on Bamford watches.
In fact, numerous flourishes of modernity differentiate the TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford from its siblings. The crown is presented in black PVD and sports an aqua blue Heuer logo on its vertical flank. The push-pieces located at 2 and 4 o’clock are also black PVD steel. However, not all of the Monaco’s traditional styling elements have been set aside. The case continues to measure 39mm x 39mm and the crown appears on the left flank of the case.
Four screws affix the case-back to the case. The case-back is, once again, made of black PVD steel and is engraved with the text, ‘Monaco Bamford’. Each watch from the limited series of 500 pieces carries a unique reference number.
The strap is a becoming combination of black alligator leather and rubber.
A pane of sapphire crystal provides sight of the Calibre 11 automatic movement, housed within the TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford.
The oscillating mass is partially open-worked and adorned with Côtes de Genève motif. A sea of perlage graces the bridges.
The balance oscillates with a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz) and the movement contains 59 jewels. The power reserve is sufficient to confer approximately 40 hours of autonomy.
The dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford shares the same peerless legibility as the classical Monaco of 1969. Nevertheless, this new timepiece is likely to polarise opinion with its incorporation of the vivid, aqua blue dial detail. Personally, I adore the ebullient and vibrant nature of this particular shade, but I concede it may not be to everyone’s taste.
On paper, the notion of taking a classic, iconic watch such as the 1969 Monaco and dressing it in a cutting-edge carbon case sounds almost sacrilegious. However, the courage of TAG Heuer and Bamford Watch Department in taking this bold step has proved inspiring. The carbon case invigorates the Monaco granting it a notable degree of modernity.
Thankfully, TAG Heuer and Bamford Watch Department have not abandoned some of the elements which make the classical Monaco an icon. The bi-compax dial layout, the glass box sapphire crystal and the crown on the left flank of the case have all been retained.
I confess I am not always a fan of customising a manufacturer’s work as it can sometimes adulterate the allure of an original design. However, in this instance, I have to concede that George Bamford and his team at Bamford Watch Department have delivered a stunning watch. Indeed, the resultant timepiece perfectly illustrates the wisdom of TAG Heuer collaborating with this talented micro-brand.
- Model: TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford
- Case: Carbon; dimensions 39mm x 39mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre 11; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 59 jewels; power reserve 40 hours
- Strap: Black alligator leather and rubber
- Limited Edition: 500 pieces