For the fourth time this year, TAG Heuer is releasing a limited-edition model in the commemorative quintet series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Monaco series. This latest model is inspired by the period between 1999 and 2009, and comes on the heels of the 1989-1999, 1979-1989, and 1969-1979 models, each released earlier in summer 2019. TAG Heuer has been releasing each of these watches in symbolic locations and, for this edition, chose Japan. The brand argues the country and its modern design schools are reflective of a traditionally-inspired contemporary style, and believes this an ethos this most recent Monaco shares.
Like the previous three editions of the watch, the 1999-2009 model uses a 39-mm square steel case, with slanted pushers and a left-side crown recalling the original Caliber 11 movement used in the first models from 1969. This special-edition model features a solid caseback, with “1999-2009 Special Edition” and “One of 169” engraved upon it.
Underneath the square sapphire crystal you’ll find a traditional Monaco configuration, though carried out in a simple black-and-white color scheme meant to contrast with the unique and prominent case. This dial features a number of vintage-style elements common to the series, including the horizontal applied hour markers, contrasting minute ring with accented hour markers, and softly squared subdials for running seconds and a 30-minute counter. At the bottom of the dial is a date indicator, and sweeping over the face and vintage Heuer logo are two red-tipped sword hands accented with Super-LumiNova, along with a complementary, simple red chronograph seconds hand. The standout watch is strapped on a black calfskin racing strap with a polished steel folding clasp.
Inside this special edition is the contemporary Caliber 11 movement. The original 1969 Caliber 11 is famed for being the first mass-produced automatic chronograph movement, bringing together a Buren micro-rotor base movement with a Dubois-Dépraz chronograph module. As a result of this combination, the crown needed to be placed opposite the chronograph pushers; though an odd configuration at the time, this style has since become a renowned and cherished symbol of the Monaco series and its history, and is found on today’s special-edition model. Today’s Caliber 11 also uses a Dubois-Dépraz module, though now with a Sellita SW300-1 base, together giving the automatic watch a 40-hour power reserve and large sum of 59 jewels. The new watch will be limited to 169 pieces, and will retail at $6,550.
We now anxiously await the fifth and final edition of the 50th anniversary Monaco series. If the previous models are any indication, the next edition will work to channel the modern spirit of the watch from 2009-2019, an era noted as a small renaissance for the brand, both in terms of technological developments and for its strong neo-vintage influences. Might we see a futuristic Monaco in chrome, or a matte blue-dial model like the original? Whatever the historic brand chooses, it will surely prove to be a significant addition to the collection in this anniversary year.
I have followed Tag Heuer for years and remember the original 1969-1979 series of the Monaco chronograph watches. Tag Heuers rich racing heritage has always been important to the brand and watching Steve McQueen sporting the Tag Monaco in his early seventies road racing film left an indelible mark on me. I was mesmerized with the watch and brand from that moment forward. It was when my love affair with all things horologically related began. I suppose that its nature of precision and the influences it has of not only measuring time but the great and fascinating accomplishments made by man, that can and do occur inside of those sweeping hands, became evident to my young consciousness.