The TAG Heuer Monaco: A Square Cult Chronograph
The TAG Heuer Monaco is a true classic. Its square case, crown on the left-hand side, and motorsport-inspired design help this chronograph stand out from the crowd.
4 Reasons to Buy a TAG Heuer Monaco
- Worn by Steve Mcqueen in the film Le Mans
- A legendary square chronograph with a cult following
- The Monaco V4 with an in-house caliber featuring a belt drive and linear weight
- Collector's items from the 60s and 70s with the Chronomatic Calibre 11
A Truly Unique Chronograph
The TAG Heuer Monaco is an industry icon. Originally introduced in 1969, it was one of the first automatic chronographs. Two years later, it would make its Hollywood debut on Steve McQueen's wrist in the classic film Le Mans. What's more, it was the world's first water-resistant chronograph with a square case.
In fact, its case is what makes this timepiece so unmistakable to this day. Jack Heuer is responsible for its unique square design. Another distinctive feature is the position of the crown on the left-hand side at 9 o'clock on most models. Its chronograph push-pieces sit on the opposite side at 2 and 4 o'clock. This watch gets its unusual layout from the Calibre 11. Also known as the Chronomatic, this movement is the result of a collaboration between Heuer, Breitling, Büren, and Dubois Dépraz.
TAG Heuer has been outfitting the Monaco almost exclusively with calibers from ETA and Sellita since 1997. These movements allow for the crown to be positioned on the right-hand side, however, the luxury watch manufacturer's engineers decided to stay true to the original design and keep the crown at 9 o'clock on the majority of modern Monacos.
How much does the TAG Heuer Monaco cost?
|Model/Reference number||Price (approx.)||Caliber|
|CS2110||3,700 USD||Calibre 17 (ETA base caliber)|
|CAW211P||4,500 USD||Calibre 11 (Sellita base caliber)|
|CAW2114||4,900 USD||Calibre 12 (Sellita base caliber)|
|Heuer 1533B||7,100 USD||Calibre 15 (in-house)|
|CAL5112||8,100 USD||Calibre 36 (Zenith base caliber)|
|Heuer 73633B||9,100 USD||Valjoux 7736|
|Heuer 1133B||30,000 USD||Calibre 11i (in-house)|
|WAW2170||68,000 USD||Calibre V4|
Vintage Models with a Chronomatic Calibre: Ref. 1133 & 1533
The very first Monaco bears the reference number 1133. It uses the Chronomatic Calibre 11, which you'll also find in Heuer's Autavia and Carrera watches from the same era. At the time, this movement was the pinnacle of watch technology. A Büren caliber with a micro-rotor serves as its base, and a module from Dubois Dépraz gives it a chronograph function. However, this movement was only used for a short period of time before being replaced by the more reliable Calibre 12 that ticks at a higher frequency. Both movements feature a minute counter at 3, a date display at 6, and an hour counter at 9 o'clock. There is no small seconds dial, so you can only tell if the watch is working by the movement of the minute hand.
Heuer only ever made a few thousand copies of this 39-mm stainless steel timepiece with a blue or gray dial. Today, well-maintained Monaco 1133s are coveted collector's items and demand prices between 18,000 and 30,000 USD.
The Monaco ref. 1533 shares its case, basic design, and blue or gray dial with the 1133. However, it gets its power from the trimmed-down Chronomatic Calibre 15. Instead of an hour counter, this movement comes with a small seconds dial at 10 o'clock. Its minute counter and date display retain their respective positions at 3 and 6 o'clock. Expect to spend around 7,100 USD on a pre-owned piece in good condition.
To the Right: Manually-Wound Valjoux Models
Heuer's engineers took a slightly different direction for the Monaco refs. 73633 and 74033. While their size and color schemes are consistent with their predecessors, they use the manual Valjoux calibers 7736 and 7740 instead of the Chronomatic.
The most obvious consequence of this change is the shift of the crown to the right-hand side between the two push-pieces. Like the original Monaco, the ref. 74033 has its date display at 6 o'clock and hour and minute counters at 3 and 9 o'clock, respectively. However, the ref. 73633 exchanges the date display for a small seconds dial. Be sure to have between 9,000 and 11,500 USD on hand for either model.
New Editions with ETA, Sellita, or El Primero Movements
TAG Heuer began making major changes to the Monaco in 1997. The base caliber is now an ETA 2892 or Sellita SW300-1, though the chronograph module still comes from Dubois Dépraz. One of these so-called "Re-Editions" is the Monaco ref. CS2110. It has its crown on the right, a black dial, a small seconds at 3, a date display at 6, and a minute counter at 9 o'clock. This watch was limited to a run of 5,000 pieces and sells for anywhere from 2,800 to 3,800 USD, depending on its condition.
The Monaco Sixty Nine CW9110 is a truly special timepiece. This reversible watch has two movements: one manual, one quartz. The mechanical movement, the ETA 7001, powers the conventional time display with three hands. On the other hand, the quartz movement on the reverse side is an extremely accurate stopwatch and can also function as an alarm. This watch costs around 5,000 USD in mint condition. You can save roughly 1,800 USD by purchasing a pre-owned timepiece.
Other interesting Monaco models include the Monaco 24 and Monaco Calibre 6. The Monaco 24 takes its inspiration from the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Its stainless steel case measures a stately 41 mm across and contains the Calibre 36. Based on the Zenith El Primero, this movement gets its name from its frequency of 36,000 alternations per hour. The dial strongly resembles the dashboards found in race cars. It features a small seconds dial at 9, a minute counter at 3, and a date display at 6 o'clock. A large "24" sits prominently at 12 o'clock. You can purchase this watch in good condition for roughly 8,000 USD.
Unlike its sister models, the Calibre 6 lacks a chronograph function. What's more, this three-hand watch is only 37 mm wide, making it a great choice for smaller wrists. Its caliber is based on the ETA 2895-2 or Sellita 260-1 and lends this timepiece its date at 3 o'clock and smalls seconds dial at 6. You can choose from a black, blue, or brown dial. Prices for this watch range from 1,900 to 2,800 USD.
The New Generation of Calibre 11 and Calibre 12 Watches
In 2009, TAG Heuer introduced a new line of Monaco Calibre 11 and Calibre 12 watches. These names can be a bit misleading since these timepieces are not remakes of the famous timepieces from the 1960s. In fact, the Swiss manufacturer still outfits these newer models with Sellita or ETA base movements and a chronograph module from Dubois Dépraz. You can tell these models apart by the position of their crowns: The Calibre 12 has its crown and push-pieces on the right, while the Calibre 11 uses the historic layout with the crown on the left.
Other than that, these two timepieces are identical. The small seconds is located at 3, the date display at 6, and the minute counter at 9 o'clock. Each is available in a black or blue edition and costs between 4,200 and 5,200 USD new and 2,900 and 4,300 USD pre-owned.
For something more colorful, you should turn to the Monaco Gulf models. Their dark blue dials feature light blue and orange vertical stripes – the official colors of Gulf Racing. Plan to spend about 4,600 USD for a mint-condition timepiece and around 4,400 USD for a used watch.
The Monaco Quartz copies the design of the Calibre 6. It's 37 mm across and has three hands, a small seconds, and a date display. The version with twelve diamond hour indices on a white or brown dial is a particularly stunning women's watch. Prices for this quartz-powered timepiece range from 1,300 to 1,900 USD.
The Belt-Driven Monaco V4 with a Linear Weight
The Monaco V4 is an extraordinary member of the Monaco family. TAG Heuer first presented it as a concept watch in 2004, before releasing a limited series of 150 pieces in 2009. What makes this watch so special is its caliber. It's the first caliber to feature a linear weight made of tungsten, Heuer's patented belt drive system, and a V-shaped plate with four ball-bearing-mounted barrels. The barrels are designed to resemble the cylinders found in a Formula 1 race car's engine.
You can purchase the titanium version of this unique watch for around 23,500 USD. If you prefer the platinum edition, the price climbs to between 38,000 and 68,000 USD depending on its condition.