Heuer introduced its Monaco chronograph in March 1969, as one of its first three automatic chronographs – along with the Autavia and the Carrera – and in retrospect we can say that, with its radical shape, size and colors, the Monaco was ahead of its time. The Monaco was produced in a variety of configurations, including automatic and manual models, with dials in blue, gray and black, but by the late 1970s, Heuer had stopped producing the Monaco. The Autavia and Carrera were introduced in the early 1960s, and lasted into the mid-1980s, but the Monaco had a much shorter life in the Heuer catalog, the combination of its radical style and conditions in the Swiss watch industry bringing the model to an early end.
In 1996, TAG Heuer created its first re-edition of the Carrera and the 10-year break in production seems to have served the company well. So, it is not surprising that in 1997, TAG Heuer would follow this same playbook in creating a re-edition of the Monaco.
While the Carrera offered by TAG Heuer in 1996 was a “re-edition”, in that it closely followed the form of the 1963 Carrera, enthusiasts may debate whether the Monaco offered by TAG Heuer in 1997 was properly called a re-edition. The new Monaco (CS2110) was very different from any Heuer predecessor, having a black dial and two black registers, one a 30-minute capacity chronograph and the other showing running seconds. The model was offered in a limited edition of 5,000 watches.
The second Monaco re-edition offered by TAG Heuer (CS2111) took an entirely different approach, but was still without a clear precedent in the Heuer heritage portfolio. The sculptured dial was all black, but the new model offered three registers, with 12-hour chronograph capacity. The dial featured radial applied markers and hash marks, with a “circle in the square” motif that would be used in many subsequent versions of the Monaco chronograph.
With the success of the CS2111 in 1998, TAG Heuer added the model to the permanent range, changing the model to CW2111 and adding “TAG Heuer” to the dial, rather than only the Heuer logo. A version with a silver / white dial was also added (CW2112).
In 2003, Heuer added a blue-dialed version of the Monaco to its catalog (CW2113), following the color scheme and lay-out of the model worn by Steve McQueen in the 1970 movie, Le Mans. This first re-edition of the “McQueen Monaco” featured white registers, as on the original version, with bright red hands for the chronograph and running seconds. This chronograph was powered by TAG Heuer’s Calibre 17 movement.
The Monaco received a significant update in 2009 to mark the 40th Anniversary of the series, with TAG Heuer now using the Calibre 12 movement to power the model. The new model has a slightly larger case (39mm vs. 38mm) and for the first time, sapphire crystal rather than plexiglass.
The Calibre 12 series offered several different coloured dial options, including the blue/white “McQueen” , a model with a black dial and contrasting white registers and, in 2019, the Calibre 12 “Final Edition”, with its ruthenium dial (CAW211J) to mark the end of the series.
In addition to the Calibre 12 models, 2009 also saw the launch of the first TAG Heuer Calibre 11 Monaco -- the 40th Anniversary Monaco. With the Calibre 11 movement, the crown is positioned on the left side of the case, as on the original Monaco from 1969, which was powered by the predecessor Calibre 11 movement. This special edition Monaco retained the 38mm case of the previous series, but added a sapphire crystal, and is the only Monaco with the 38mm / sapphire combination.
Since 2015, there have been several limited edition Monaco Calibre 11 watches, most notably the 5-watch limited edition series in 2019 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Monaco. A different limited edition of 169 chronographs was produced to celebrate the five generations of the Monaco chronograph, as follows:
While the Calibre 12 has been discontinued, TAG Heuer continues to use the Calibre 11 model, with its crown on the left hand side.
In addition to the revised Calibre 11/ 12 series, 2009 also saw the launch of the Monaco Twenty-Four, a futuristic take on the Monaco with its bold sculpted case and wrap-around sapphire crystal, based on the style of the V4 Monaco from 2004. The magic of the Monaco Twenty-Four was the dial and Calibre 36 movement (derived from the Zenith El Primero) that sat suspended inside the case, held in by four shock-absorbers.
In addition to the Monaco Twenty Four, there were also two Calibre 12 watches that used a similar case- The Monaco Calibre LS (CAL2110) and the Monaco Calibre 12 Boutique edition (CAL2113). The LS used a unique “Linear System” for the running seconds (at 3 o’clock), with rotating discs for the chronograph recorders. The Calibre 12 Boutique edition had prominent square frames surrounding the chronograph registers at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.
In 2019, TAG Heuer introduced the first Monaco chronograph to be powered by its in-house Heuer 02 movement. Fittingly, this first Monaco Heuer 02 featured the Steve McQueen color scheme, with a midnight blue dial and white registers for the hours and minutes, with running seconds and the date positioned at 6 o’clock.
The original version of the Heuer Monaco was available for less than 10 years, being introduced in 1969 and the last version being produced circa 1978. TAG Heuer’s re-editions of the Monaco have met with great success, however, being offered in a variety of models for the last 25 years. Indeed, the Monaco chronograph may have been ahead of its time in the 1970s, but has carved out a position as a modern classic for the 21st century.