BY ERIK SLAVEN
The TAG Heuer Monaco is among the most iconic watches on any wrist. Instantly recognizable, worn by the legend himself, Steve McQueen, in the coolest car movie ever (Le Mans) and a symbol of sorts of the renowned Monaco Grand Prix. Other models symbolize motorsports like the Carrera and Monza, but the Monaco is just something special. Arguably the last great model from the classic portfolio was the “Dark Lord” in 1974, which had the brand’s first black case. The black Monza arrived two years later. A modern take on the “Dark Lord” is here to commemorate the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix with a black titanium case and refined details.
The Monaco has always been a large and rather heavy watch, although that changed with last year’s Titan Special Edition that was dressed in lightweight titanium. The new piece is again grade 2 titanium with a contemporary black DLC finish. Everything has been blacked out this time, including the pushers, crown and case back. Even the strap is all black with black stitching and a black DLC clasp. Dimensions are 39mm x 39mm and 15mm thick, which is a bit of a brick on the wrist. The titanium case keeps things light and balanced, while the black coating provides a stealthy edge. The square sapphire crystal is beveled (a unique and familiar Monaco detail), while the case back is secured via four screws and has a sapphire exhibition window. Water-resistance is rated at 100 meters. The aforementioned strap is black alligator and really compliments the piece. It’s not quite as sporty as other models, but I don’t think it’s trying to be.
The dial has the classic round track (circle-in-a-square design) with outer applied indices, which are polished, faceted and plated in 5N rose gold. This outer area is also textured like skateboard grip tape, while inside the circle we have a satin finish that’s radially brushed. A 30-minute counter sits at 3 o’clock and a 12-hour counter sits at 9 o’clock, both within square sub-dials. The small seconds are loose at 6 o’clock with no dedicated sub-dial, while a white date window is positioned just below. Classic orange has been replaced with red for all three chronograph hands, which has an appropriate racing aesthetic. Combined with the gold hands and indices, the overall vibe is warm and refined.
Powering the watch is the in-house Heuer 02 automatic chronograph (integrated) with a column wheel and vertical clutch. When the original Monaco debuted in 1969, it housed the famous Caliber 11, which was among the first three automatic chronograph movements. The latest movement, of course, is more advanced with an 80-hour power reserve, beat rate of 4Hz and 33 jewels. Seen from the exhibition case back, it’s decorated with Côtes de Genève on the bridges and open-worked, rose gold-plated rotor. It’s not overly done and well-executed, and really fits the rest of the package from a visual standpoint.
The latest Monaco “Dark Lord” Titanium Special Edition (ref. CBL2180.FC6497) retails for CHF 8,000/USD 8,200, which is fairly accessible for such a piece. Although a special edition, it’s not a limited edition (a bit confusing) and is available now at official retailers and TAG Heuer’s website.
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