Writes author, collector and authority on all things TAG Heuer, Arno Haslinger, “In 1970 at the racetrack of Le Mans in France, a young property master put six photographs of leading race drivers of the period on the desk. Without hesitation, Steve McQueen pointed at Joseph Siffert’s picture and said, “I want to look like him [for the filming of Le Mans].” No sooner said than done, a range of Heuers were brought to the set for Steve McQueen to pick. Unsurprisingly the king of taste chose the most unusual design, a Monaco with a glaring blue dial.
“The Monaco reference number 1133 B is decoded thus: ‘11’ for Calibre 11 (the newly developed automatic-chronograph calibre); ‘3’ stood for Monaco line; the second ‘3’ indicated a steel case and finally the ‘B’ was the suffix for a blue dial.
“Technically, it was not short of revolutionary. A monocoque caseback embedded the movement and had four notches on the outsides at 12 and six o’clock. The top-case held a square glass with a rubber seal underneath. The two pieces clicked in place and made the unusual construction waterproof.”
And that, in very brief, is the story of the square cased Monaco — today a permanent fixture in the horological hall of icons.
Great history aside, if we were to be asked today, what is then a modern-day interpretation of the Monaco, the answer to that would no doubt be the Monaco Mikrograph or Monaco V4. The latter of which was by the work master watchmaker Francois Rucchonet with its prototype built by the one and only, Philippe Dufour. Francois Rucchonet was also the mastermind behind the Breguet double tourbillon watch, which saw a recent 2020 reincarnation.
Now the Mikrograph and V4 is a decidedly avant-garde take on the Monaco. But what about a 2020 take on the 1133 B? What would that look like? Not the vintage tributes from last year’s 50th anniversary festivities, but a refined take on the original 1969 watch. That is essentially what is the Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic.
The updates are subtle, but with enough there to make the watch look bright eyed and of appeal to those who appreciate the classics. TAG Heuer suggests that part of the reason why such an effect was achieved is thanks in part to the newly designed bracelet it’s been paired with.
Explains TAG Heuer’s Heritage Director, Catherine Eberlé-Devaux, “The bracelet is particularly important for any wristwatch — without a good bracelet, the timepiece lacks desirability. For the new Monaco timepieces, we have alluded to its brilliant past with a familiar design and color while reinforcing that the collection is moving forward with innovative new technology.”
The bracelet in question is a tapered one that is thicker at the watch head and thinner as it moves away. The links on the case are of an H-shape with a brushed finish and the inter-links are in a polished finish.
The good things aside, we have to address the elephant in the room. Isn’t the whole point of the Monaco that it has its crown at 9 o’clock? Well you have to remember in this regard that the new watch’s name itself tells us that it uses the Heuer 02 movement, which appropriately places the crown at 3 o’clock of the watch. For the crown to be on the 9 o’clock position, TAG Heuer would’ve had to use the Caliber 11 movement, as was the case for the 50th anniversary watches released last year.
The black and blue variations of the watch will be available on this bracelet with the black dial also offered on a leather strap, if you are so inclined. In both strap options, the black dial version will be available as of October 2020, while those who are after the dial version will have to wait until January 2021.
Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic; hours, minutes and small running seconds; chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizer; date; 80-hour power reserve
39mm polished and fine-brushed stainless-steel case; water-resistant to 100m
Alternating, 3-row stainless-steel bracelet with stainless-steel butterfly folding clasp secured by double safety push button; Black alligator leather strap with stainless-steel folding clasp secured by double safety push button available for the black dial option
Prices and availability
Black (CBL2113.BA0644) or blue dial (CBL2111.BA0644) with bracelet; CHF 6,400
Black dial (CBL2113.FC6177) with leather strap; CHF 6,000