BY ERIK SLAVEN
Just about every major brand has an iconic collection that’s unmistakably their own. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Rolex Submariner and Breguet Type XX are a few examples, and the Monaco is certainly a TAG Heuer icon. Introduced in 1969, the unusual square design became legendary when Steve McQueen wore it in the 1971 movie, Le Mans. It’s had many variations over the decades, but all share a common aesthetic and remain faithful to the original. This latest piece follows last year’s limited edition green model with an in-house automatic caliber, but the new purple dial is a first for the series and brings a stylish and contemporary vibe.
The square stainless steel case is 39mm x 39mm and approximately 15mm thick and is both brushed and polished. The Monaco is a legendary chronograph and that certainly doesn’t change here. There are flat, rectangular pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock with an oversized crown between them, and water resistance is rated at 100 meters.
A chamfered sapphire crystal adds to the unique look and there’s a sapphire exhibition case back, so the brand’s latest in-house automatic chronograph is on full display. It launched in 2019 with the Monaco Heuer 02, replacing the Sellita-based Caliber 12. The case comes with a nice alligator strap in black with matching black stitching, but the underside is purple.
The dial is the star of the show, sporting a gradient sunray purple that’s again a first for the Monaco series. That being said, early models had metallic blue paint over brass dials that sometimes patinated to a purple hue over time. I guess that doesn’t count. We have a tri-compax chronograph setup with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, small seconds at 6 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock. The two counters are within recessed black sub-dials, while the small seconds simply hover over the dial with a beveled date window at the bottom. A classic round minute track holds it all together with applied indices circling the outermost perimeter. The hour and minute hands, and all indices are rhodium-plated with Super-LumiNova inserts (the sub-dial and small seconds hands are also rhodium plated, but without lume). The central chronograph seconds hand has white lacquer.
This model is among the relatively few to feature the new in-house Heuer 02 automatic chronograph, which has a column wheel and vertical clutch. Unlike the Caliber 12, it’s an integrated chronograph (no module) with 33 jewels, an 80-hour power reserve and beat rate of 4Hz. The column wheel is purple and easily seen at the top, while the movement and black rotor are decorated with Côtes de Genève. Engravings on the rotor are also finished in purple. I can see the Joker wearing this piece at his club.
The new TAG Heuer Monaco (reference CBL2118.FC6518) is limited to 500 pieces and retails for CHF 7,000/EUR 6,800/USD 7,150 with availability from July 2022. Not bad for an in-house Monaco that’s both cool and a bit edgy with the purple theme.
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