Watches & Wonders 2024: TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph (with Live Images)

From the Mikrograph used to time the Olympic Games in the 1920s and 1930s to the Heuer stopwatches used to time motorsports in the 1960s, there are few brands more closely associated with the chronograph than TAG Heuer. Recently the brand was able to add a serious watchmaking achievement to bolster their robust resumé with the introduction of their first mechanical split-seconds chronograph.

tag heuer monaco split seconds chronograph tag heuer monaco split seconds chronograph

For those unfamiliar or who simply want a refresher, a split-seconds chronograph utilizes two chronograph hands and is used to time intermediate events while still measuring total elapsed time. These come in handy when timing races with multiple participants or measuring lap times. Once the user is finished timing a lap, the rattrapante hand “catches up” with the chronograph hand and can be reactivated to time the next lap and so on.

Initially teased as a unique piece for Only Watch 2023, the Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph is now a production model that debuts in two styles. The first that you’ll see in our original photography is the red model with black DLC coated case and the other is a blue model with an untreated titanium finish. 

tag heuer monaco split seconds chronograph tag heuer monaco split seconds chronograph

The heart and soul of the TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph is the Calibre TH81-00 movement which operates at 5 Hz and has a 65-hour power reserve (55-hours if the chronograph is activated) with twin column wheels and vertical clutch. Done in partnership with Vaucher, it is the lightest automatic chronograph movement TAG has ever produced which is not a surprise considering it is completely made of titanium.

A movement done in titanium is so rarely seen that there are no examples that come to mind other than from Richard Mille who, as it happens, also partnered with Vaucher on numerous calibers over the years. In fact, the TH81-00 really has no close peers other than the RMAC4 Calibre. While it has benefits like light weight and superior shock resistance, titanium is notoriously difficult to machine due to its softness which can cause it to bend or flex quite easily. It is also prone to “galling” which is when friction causes the titanium to stick to the tool. The tight tolerances required to make a movement out of titanium is frankly a remarkable feat and one that TAG Heuer and Vaucher should pride themselves on. 

tag heuer monaco split seconds chronograph

Done in partnership with Artime, the movement finishing is unsurprisingly elaborate. Most immediately noticeable will be the damier finish which is a clear nod to the checkered flag used in races and was first debuted in the 2021 Only Watch Carbon Monaco. This geometric checkerboard graté finish is all done by hand and takes about 30 hours to complete. Note the wide swath of anglage running down the entire side of the bridge facing the crown wheel as well as the curved edge surrounding the balance bridge which show off exceptional skills in polishing titanium. And then there is the skeletonized rotor with either red or blue hand-painting which takes about 4 hours to complete. 

tag heuer monaco split seconds chronographThe Split-Seconds Chronograph measures 41mm wide and 15.1mm thick which makes it just about 2mm wider and 1mm thicker than the standard Monaco. Perception of the size really changes when one picks the watch up and puts it on the wrist as the total weight of the case and strap is just 85 grams (for comparison, the standard Monaco weighs 130 grams while something like a steel Rolex Daytona on bracelet weighs about 148 grams). 

While the phrase “pushing the limits” is a bit cliché, it is also apt. The TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph pushes the limits of movement making, materials innovation, and, of course, price which is expected to be 135,000 CHF and a price with customization options of 165,000 CHF with availability set to begin this summer. 

To learn more, visit TAG Heuer, here

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