TAG Heuer Monaco Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Limited Edition
The TAG Heuer Monaco Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Limited Edition is a new timepiece from the Swiss luxury marque, dedicated to the famous motorsport event held in the sun-kissed Principality of Monaco. This model, limited to just 1000 pieces, combines the Monaco’s iconic design with a fiery crimson dial and TAG Heuer’s highly impressive Calibre Heuer 02 movement. Angus Davies examines this latest creation in microscopic detail.
Imagine for a moment, you are sat in a racing car. Your body is in a recumbent position and your view ahead is limited. Assembled cars sit on the grid, waiting for the green lights to go out, the atmosphere is rich with oil-infused air and the high-revving engines emit an ear-splitting cacophony. Suddenly, the race begins and cars jostle with each other, trying to survive the first lap.
Sainte-Devote, Beau Rivage, Massenet, Casino …the corners keep coming, fast and relentless. There is a distinct absence of driver aids, gears are selected with the right hand, while heel and toe is the mark of a real racer. Victory is absolute. This is not the time for half measures. Success necessitates placing a priceless car in close proximity to the hungry Armco. The brut Champagne may be dry, but for the winner it tastes remarkably sweet. This is the world of the legendary Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
TAG Heuer, the avant-garde watch brand, has recently been appointed as the Official Sponsor and Timekeeper of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. The luxury firm has always enjoyed a close relationship with the Principality of Monaco. Indeed, TAG Heuer is also the ‘Official Watch of the Monaco Grand Prix’ and the ‘Official Watch Partner of the Monaco Top Cars Collection museum’.
It is most apt, therefore, that TAG Heuer has chosen to produce a limited-edition Monaco dedicated to the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. Sadly, the race planned for May has been cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the ACM (Automobile Club De Monaco) has already commenced preparing for the next edition of this much-loved event.
Last year, as most horophiles will know, was the 50th anniversary of the Heuer Monaco. In the world of horology, the word ‘icon’ is used excessively, however, the Monaco is undoubtedly deserving of the appellation. The inaugural Monaco, unveiled in March 1969, sported a blue dial, white counters and featured a myriad of red details. Over the years, the Maison from La Chaux-de-Fonds has produced limited-edition models, often for specific markets. These watches have encompassed different hues and sometimes alternative dial designs. However, last year, TAG Heuer produced five limited-edition models, each referencing a decade and every one sporting a distinctive dial design.
One of the anniversary models, the TAG Heuer Monaco 1979-1989 Limited Edition, featured a glorious red-toned dial. In my opinion, the hue of the dial imbued this version of the Monaco with an unprecedented degree of beauty. Now, the fiery red Monaco is back and it looks better than ever.
The dial incorporates a silvery-white circular canvas centre stage, a sunray brushed surface, the ‘Monaco’ name at noon and the brand’s modern-day logo. This latter detail usurps the customary period ‘Heuer’ name, perhaps hinting at the modern movement within.
Each counter incorporates a bevelled track and silver-toned hands and markings. While the counters are square they feature rounded corners. Moreover, the counters are recessed, introducing an attractive play with depths. A small seconds display resides in the lower portion of the dial, discreet and unassuming. Positioned at 6 o’clock, a date aperture reveals black numerals set against a white disc.
The hour and minute hands are rhodium-plated and lined with Super-LumiNova. Unlike the Heuer Monaco 1133B, the hands eschew colour. Everything appears very clean, heightening readability. Red, circular hour markers and a black minuterie help delineate the silvery-white circular canvas from the adjacent red-toned dial area.
The shade of the ‘crimson brushed dial’ evokes thoughts of legendary race cars. The small silver historic car logo of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is positioned between 1 and 2 o’clock. Additional indexes, in this instance rhodium-plated, bridge the space between the silvery-white circular canvas and the perimeter of the dial.
In recent years, all versions of the Monaco have been housed in a 39mm stainless steel case and this latest limited-edition model upholds this trend. The original Monaco of 1969 featured round pushpieces, narrow lugs and Plexiglas, the cases of modern-day Monacos have benefited from the brand’s continuous improvement strategy. On today’s Monaco models, the pushpieces are rectangular and sleeved. Several years ago, the robustness was improved, courtesy of broader lugs and the move to sapphire crystal glazing.
The crown on the Monaco Calibre 11 has always been positioned on the left flank of the case (for more details – see my review of the TAG Heuer Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition). However, on this new model the crown sits adjacent 3 o’clock. This provides a clue that the watch features the Calibre Heuer 02.
A circular pane of sapphire crystal, embellished with Grand Prix de Monaco Historique branding, affords views of the movement within. Consistent with its antecedents, this Monaco is supplied with a perforated black calfskin leather strap featuring a folding clasp in polished stainless steel.
While the Heuer Monaco will forever be associated with the Calibre 11, this new model incorporates the Calibre Heuer 02, one of the finest movements the Maison has ever made. It is fully integrated and features a column wheel and vertical coupling.
With a modular chronograph, actuating the chronograph can cause the base movement to ‘drag’, adversely affecting the timekeeping. No such problems afflict the fully integrated Calibre Heuer 02.
The Calibre Heuer 02 features a column wheel and vertical coupling. The chronograph is always in mesh with the gear train and the clutch engages/disengages the stopwatch function on demand. With the Calibre Heuer 02, when the stopwatch is actuated, the central chronograph seconds hand starts its journey without any hesitation or tremor. Moreover, when pressing the pushpiece the wearer is rewarded with a smooth tactile action. Put simply, a fully integrated chronograph with a column wheel and vertical coupling is the ultimate expression of chronograph ownership.
The oscillating weight features a spoke design and is presented in black with red text. It brims with modernity, while the bridges beneath are adorned with traditional Côtes de Genève. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement contains 33 jewels. The Calibre Heuer 02 will run autonomously for an impressive 80 hours.
When TAG Heuer unveiled its devilishly handsome Monaco 1979-1989 Limited Edition last year, it restricted supplies to just 169 pieces. The brand has been true to its word and honourably resisted the temptation of making a facsimile of this much-loved 50th anniversary creation. The new TAG Heuer Monaco Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Limited Edition is markedly different from any of its forebears.
However, I am sure that the widespread approval for the red-faced beauty of 2019 encouraged the Swiss marque to revisit its crimson period. I suspect this will prove an incredibly shrewd decision. The new model does not undermine the legend of the 1969 model, nor does it abandon some of its revered genes. Instead, this latest model looks fresh and new, perfectly attuned to the here and now, and probably the future as well.
Beyond the dial’s fetching appearance, the 39mm case is tried and tested and sits in ergonomic concert with the wrist. However, beyond its shiny bodywork, this model features a superb movement. It operates with a degree of refinement seldom seen at this price point. Press the pushpieces and you can’t help but smile with appreciation. Likewise, admire the movement and you will discover some exquisite details.
Over the last 12 months, the design team at TAG Heuer have produced an incredible body of work. They have sympathetically reimagined a legendary chronograph, retaining some of its DNA but refining it for a new generation. While this TAG Heuer limited-edition respectfully looks at the past it clearly embraces the future wholeheartedly and most pertinently it signals a foretaste of more delights to come.
- Model: TAG Heuer Monaco Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Limited Edition
- Reference: CBL2114.FC6486
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 39mm; water resistance 10 ATM (100 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and exhibition caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre Heuer 02 Manufacture; automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 33 jewels; power reserve = 80 hours
- Strap: Black calfskin leather strap with stainless steel folding clasp
- Price – CHF 6,700 (RRP as at 20.5.2020)
- Limited Edition: 1000 pieces