While many collectors have an idea of a dream watch they wish their favourite brand made, very few people get past the dreaming stage and make the watch a reality. Joe Ganzler, a well-known expert in Gibson Les Pauls guitars from 1958-1960, did go past wishing and the result is this watch- a custom-made homage to the Heuer Monaco 74033N PVD.
The idea started with a post back in March on the Watchuseek TAG Heuer forum where Joe wrote:
“…What if a guy with more money than sense (so far, so good!) took a CAW2110 [TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12], had the case PVD’d (or more properly DLC’d), was able to source some decent orange-red hands and some more “accurate” minute/hour hands – that fella would be a LOT lighter of wallet, but he’d also have a pretty cool Monaco!”
Eight months on the watch is a reality, a time-frame that illustrates the complexity of custom watches and the trial-and-error that goes into getting each component just right. This is the story of Joe’s one-off Monaco, a watch that will hopefully inspire TAG Heuer to consider an “All Black” Monaco of its own.
Heuer Monaco 74033N
The PVD-cased Heuer Monaco 74033N (“N” for Noir, or Black) is the most valuable and rare vintage Heuer watch, despite the common view being that the watch never went past the prototype stage at Heuer (in fact, when I showed a photo of the watch to Jack Heuer in 2010, he couldn’t recall the watch).
Using the manual-wind Valjoux 7740 movement, the “PVD Monaco” features a unique dial and fantastic Black and Orange colour scheme. We’ve featured this watch before, with the example above being restored by Abel Court back in 2009.
But despite the legendary status of the PVD Monaco, TAG Heuer has not- yet- produced a re-edition. So, given how rare and expensive these watches are, the only option for a collector determined to get their hands on a reasonably priced PVD Monaco was to go and make one.
Joe’s project started with the watch above- a standard 2007-era TAG Heuer Monaco CW2113, featuring the Calibre 17 movement (ETA 2894-2). Joe chose this model as the donor watch rather than the newer Calibre 12 Monaco, because the older model shares the 38mm diameter and plexi-glass crystal of the 1970s original.
The design goal was to create an homage to the Monaco 74033N- but not a copy. Think of this project as creating what a modern TAG Heuer re-edition might look like.
The first step in designing the dial was to sketch out the pattern and create a stamp. It wasn’t possible to produce a direct copy of the dial, mainly because the layout of the Calibre 17 movement is different to that of the Valjoux 7740.
Specifically, the date window on the “re-edition” sits lower than on the original, and the markings on the registers are different, reflecting the functionality of the Calibre 17:
- 3 o’clock register: Running seconds (vs. 30 minutes Chronograph on the Valjoux)
- 9 o’clock register: Records elapsed Chronograph minutes (vs. Chronograph hours)
These small details aside, the dial is faithful to the original, down to the off-set “30/ 15” and “60/ 30” markings on the sub-dials.
Once the design was chosen, a pad was created. The photo above shows an early test, applied to a piece of black matte metal. While the original intention was to create a new dial, the final version below uses the Monaco CW2113 dial as a base, retaining the sunken registers.
Note that the minute and seconds hash marks on the prototype above are all the same length, while the final dial (below) has longer minute markers. This is just one example of the trial-and-error approach that you need to be willing to endure if you go down the path of creating your own dial.