TAG Heuer Vs. Heuer Monaco: Old vs New

A comparison that I’ve meant to post for a while now is the comparison between the original Heuer Monaco and the modern TAG Heuer Monaco. While the Monaco was re-introduced by TAG Heuer in 1997, the first re-editions were black-only and it wasn’t until 2003 that collectors could once again buy an iconic blue Monaco, the colour made famous by Steve McQueen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere seem to be two approaches that TAG Heuer have taken with their re-edition range- the first is the “reproduction” re-edition and the second is the “modernised” re-edition. The first category is where every attempt is made to make the “new” model look as close as possible to the “old” model- for example, the first Carrera re-edition with the Lemania 1873 manual-wind movement and the current Silverstone re-edition. The second takes inspiration from the vintage model, but attempts to modernise the design to make it more contemporary, for example the Autavia re-edition and, as you’ll see, the Monaco re-edition.

The Models

The TAG Heuer Monaco shown here is ref. CW2113-0 from 2005 (the “-0” indicating that the watch can be fitted with a bracelet). There are several differences between the CW2113-0 and the 2010 model (ref. CAW2111), namely that the CW2113-0:

  • Is 1mm smaller in diameter (38mm vs. 39mm)
  • Has a plexi rather than sapphire crystal
  • Uses the Calibre 17 movement, while the 2010 model uses the Calibre 12
  • Standard steel caseback rather than the newer clear caseback

While these are detailed changes, the shape of the case and the dial design are identical between the 2005 and 2010 TAG Heuer models

The Heuer Monaco used in this comparison is ref 1133B, the famous Calibre 12 powered watch (not many were made with the Calibre 11 movement) from around 1972 with the flat blue colour (hence the “B” in the ref. number). Earlier versions of the Monaco had a metallic blue dial and flatter, square hands (see below), but it’s this version of the Monaco that is the most common, if you can use that word to describe the vintage Monaco.

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Case

While its popular to think of the original Monaco as being a “square” watch, it was actually flat across the top of the case and featured a prominent curve along the side of the case, making it look wider than it was tall. The TAG Heuer Monaco also has a curve along the side, but its far less pronounced, as you can see below:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe impact of this change makes the modern Monaco look squarer and taller than the original. Personally, I prefer the wider design of the original Monaco, but each to their own- I suspect that the newer shape is less polarising than the original, which it mustn’t be forgotten was a spectacular failure when launched in the 1970s. By the mid-late 1970s the Monaco was gone and forgotten, until TAG Heuer began to focus on its heritage, some 20 years later.

Movement

The majority of Heuer Monaco 1133B’s came with the Chronomatic Calibre 12 movement, despite popular belief reinforced by TAG Heuer marketing today that the original Monaco used the Calibre 11 movement. The Calibre 11 movement was only used in the Monaco for a few months from its launch in 1969 and was quickly replaced by the Calibre 11-I and then the Calibre 12  in 1971. This Calibre 12 is part of the Chromomatic family of movements and was a Buren base movement with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module. One feature of the Chronomatic movements that often confuse new owners is that there is no seconds hand measuring time (the central hand is the Chrono seconds hand) and so no sign that your watch is alive and working until you see the minute hand move.

The Calibre 17 movement used in the TAG Heuer Monaco is a ETA derived movement, based on the ETA 2894-2. As noted above,  the 2010 Monaco uses a Calibre 12 movement, but one that has nothing to do with the original Chronomatic Calibre 12- the two Calibre 12s share only a name.

Pushers/ Crown

Perhaps the number one complaint from vintage Heuer collectors about the TAG Heuer Monaco is the design of the pushers. The original design used round pushers with fluted edges, which TAG Heuer decided to change to a flat, square design for the re-edition. The fluted pusher design was used by Heuer all throughout the 1970s and so its a shame to have lost this design feature from the Monaco. The Silverstone re-edition uses a design that is closer to the original fluted finish, and is all the better for that change.

Famously, the Chronomatic movement required the crown to be moved to the left-hand side of the watch, a feature that TAG Heuer offer today on some re-editions (Silverstone, 40th Anniversary Monaco, Autavia) purely for cosmetic impact. The standard modern Monaco has the crown where you’d probably expect to see it- on the right-hand side.

Dial and Hands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s perhaps surprising how different the two dials are when you hold them next to each-other. The TAG Heuer Monaco has a metallic, deep blue dial with a star-burst finish, while the Heuer Monaco has flat, pale blue colour

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou’ll also notice that the red-tipped hands have been replaced with squarer-edged silver hands. The good news is that TAG Heuer didn’t just make these changes for the sake of fashion, but instead to reflect the colour scheme of the very first prototype Monaco (also ref. 1133B), which had the same metallic blue dial and square steel hands, as you can see on the fantastic Chronomatic example below.

While the original Monaco has black sub-dial hands and red 5-minute markers, the TAG Heuer version has red hands and no distinct 5-minute marker- just the round lume dot. While on the subject of markers, the Heuer Monaco uses a combination of rectangular and square flat hour-markers, while the TAG Heuer Monaco uses uniform angled hour-markers.

Conclusion

The TAG Heuer Monaco has been a huge success since its re-introduction in 1997- far more popular than the original ever was. While there are several details that have changed between the original and the modern version, its clear that the essence and daring of the original design shines through in the re-edition. Which do I prefer? It has to be the Heuer Monaco, not just because it was the original but also because I prefer the shade of pastel 1970s blue and the quirky design of the hour-markers and crown placement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomeone at TAG Heuer must have also liked these features, because when it came time to launch the 40th anniversary Monaco, the design was much closer to the Heuer Monaco 1133B:  as you can see below, the colour of the dial, hands, crown placement and dial lay-out faithfully replicate the original- even the date-window surround makes a comeback.

So, modern or vintage? A tough call and it probably depends what sort of collector you are- for many people, the thought of owning a 40-year old watch is daunting compared to the ease of servicing and looking after the reliable modern equivalent. For me its vintage, but I can appreciate the other choice and its great to have the option.

The last factor is of course price- while a good vintage Heuer Monaco may set you back close to USD10,000, the modern equivalent is available for around a third of that price, which makes it far more accessible, even if that original Steve McQueen magic has been slightly diluted during its 20 year hiatus.

***

Photos:

Calibre11, OnTheDash, TAG Heuer

  • Lou

    Great post. Now that watch companies are regularly tapping into their historical catalog for re-issues, homages or simply design inspiration, it is always interesting to see how modern sensibilities (and corporate considerations) have influenced and evolved design. Regarding preference, I agree that there is something irresistibly attractive about the flat blue plane of the 1133B.

  • JFLUX13

    As usual, a very enjoyable post…

    Steve McQueen's Monaco is so iconic that I can't imagine any Heuer enthusiast select the re-issued timepiece over the 1133B. I wouldn't, that's for sure. 😉

  • Superb posting David!!

    Cheers,Par

  • DC

    Thanks Gents,

    Yes, its always hard to top the original…that's why I prefer my re-editions like the Autavia, where you try and imagine what the Autavia would look like today it it never went out of production, rather than to replicate the past.

    For those who want the original, you can always buy vintage.

    David

  • www.heuerchronograph

    Tool 033 for me, good ones are getting really pricey unfortunately, great post David !!

    • DC

      Thanks Arno, yes hard to go past the original

  • Derek Wales

    Great article, thankyou!

    Have been thinking of getting a Tag Monaco for some time but did not realise that there were so many variations of re-issues since the original. Usually I tend to go for the most accurate to the original possible so I guess thats the 40th Aniversary.

    Del

  • DC

    Yes Del, the 40th anniversary is the most like the original, but hard to find. An alternative is the new Grey Calibre 11 vintage Monaco- that is also pretty close to the original, but is a lot less expensive than the 40th anniversary model

    dc

  • John

    Enjoyed this immensely. But, where could someone find detailed specs for CAW2111 ?

  • DC

    Thanks John. I'm not sure which details you are after, but some of the differences between the Calibre 17 re-edition and the new Calibre 12 are discussed here:

    http://www.calibre11.com/tag-heuer-monaco-range

    Hope this helps

    David

  • John

    Hi David,

    my first visit here and a potential Monaco owner. Can you advise the actual model number of the blue 40th anniversary model?….and likely place to find one!

    thanks

    john

  • Justin

    Hi John,

    thought I'd just in before David regarding the 40th anniversary re-edition. The model number is CAW211A. Uncertain as to where you are geographically located; there is one I spotted on my trip to Sydney last week (Westfield Bondi Junction; Gregory Jewellers).

    Although they were closed for stocktake, the un-mistakable marked 40th anniversary box with the Gulf striping, spare band and spring bar remover sat in their display window (with the watch unaccounted for). The last known RRP approximately $12,000AUSD from my local AD.

    Hope that helps!

    JC

  • John

    Thanks JC,

    I've now joined the TAG owners set, with a Monaco Gulf limited edition, that will do for now (it's for wearing BTW!)

    john

  • DC

    Which one John- Black or Grey dial?

    David

  • John

    It's a grey dial (and strap)David,(is that good or bad?!) CAW2113 that does not seem to be on the TAG website? any further info welcomed.

    john

  • DC

    Hi John,

    Yes, it was a Limited Edition version from 2009- a bit more info here:

    http://www.calibre11.com/monaco-stripes/

    dc

  • John

    Thanks DC, (sorry for the post deviation)I had not spotted that before and note your views on the watch..I love it BTW! and as it's limited to 2500 it's rarer than the original I suppose. I've fitted an aftermarket blue strap with orange stitching that should keep the original pristine, as I've just noticed the replacement cost!

    Have you seen this?…….! http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&a

  • John

    Over £4000 for a rough incomplete model from Mexico…… ?

  • DC

    I thought that price seemed about right. Back when currencies were stable, a good Monaco was USD9-10,000, or about GBP4-5000.

    Nowadays, GBP4000 is only USD6700…so this watch looks about "right" in USD, but expensive in GBP.

    The case seems re-polished and a little damage on the dial.

    dc

  • Simon Harrison

    My wife bought me the cw2113-0 for my 40th birthday 7 years ago. Brilliant watch. I love it. Perspex has minor scratches and abrasions after daily use but it gives it a character that I don't think the sapphire crystal does. It always keeps good time. I'm amused by the irony of not getting a crocodile strap wet.

  • DC

    I hadn't thought about that before Simon, but yes, you'd think Croc leather would be OK..maybe its OK in swamps, but no good in the pool…

    dc

  • Dan

    The best watch in the Tag line up IMHO. Timeless design that will go with everything. Great article DC.

  • DC

    Thanks Dan- certainly the most iconic TAG Heuer.

    Cheers

  • Definitely a watch (the original) that I'd love to add to the collection. Nice work on the article!

  • DC

    Thanks Georgy

  • Lou Auricchio

    I own a Monaco CS211. FC8119 I can't find any info re this watch can you help. I want to trade for a blue face , I don't have a reference of value for my Monaco.

    Thanks, Lou

  • DC

    Hi Lou,

    The correct Ref is CS2111. Value will depend on condition, but I would say maybe equal value for a ~5 year Monaco with a blue dial against a black dial of the same era and condition- yours is a Heuer-only LE

    David

  • Lou Auricchio

    Thanks, David you were very helpful. I had no idea mine is a limited edition.

  • sabbo198

    blimey you blokes know your watches one day i would love the cw2113 but until scaffolding pays more i will just keep window shopping and doing the lottery love the chat tnank you

  • Keith

    Great posts guys. I'm looking for calibre 12 Monaco instruction book (caw2111). Help ?

  • DC

    Hi Keith,

    I don't have any of those scanned- sorry. Are they on the TAG Heuer website?

    David

  • gavin M

    Hi all ,was wondering if anybody could answer this question of mine ,I have a tag heuer Monaco no: CW211A gulf edition and my croc leather strap has seen better days.I would like to change the strap for a stainless bracelet BA0780 but was told it won't fit ,anybody know if the case is different to other modelsthe bracelet fits ?

  • Lloyd George

    I am a massive Steve McQueen fanatic and have been since childhood! As such, if I was going to wear a timepiece it would have to be the Heuer Monaco Blue Dial just like the one Steve wore in the motion picture ‘Le Mans’. Admittedly and very galling as it is, alas I could not afford to lay out in the region of £5-7,000.00p for an original so I had to cut my losses and opted for a 2005 Re-edition CW2113-0.
    Yes, it is a Tag Heuer Monaco and although I would love the original I would also still keep this Re-edition model.
    It keeps terrific time, looks asthetically pleasing and goes to show that form is temporary but class is permanent!
    The CW2113-0 is apparently now a collectors item!!!

  • Lloyd George

    Ps: Thanks DC!

  • Chris

    great article!

    i am in search of a working 220.206. if you happen to know someone looking to sell, please have them contact me at

    gansen
    @
    gmail dot com

    thanks all!

  • Kash

    Looking to buy a CAW211A? Any idea where I could find one.. I live in NYC

  • Rich

    Hello all. I've just bought my first Monaco after a long period of coveting, and I'm curious to learn more about it. I have the CAW211D-FC6300. On some sites it's called a Monaco Vintage Chronograph, and on others a McQueen Limited Vintage Edition. Either way, I love it, but can anyone provide any info about it – for example how limited a limited edition is it? Many thanks.

    • Hi Rich,

      It's official name is "Heuer Monaco Steve McQueen Calibre 11 Chronograph" and it was originally introduced in 2011 as a boutique special (only sold in TH Boutiques). The following year they made it a "ADIS" model- that is, it is not part of the regular range, but they will only make as many as the dealers buy upfront. None of these are numbered, and if dealers order 10,000 then that's how many they'll make, and if they order 4,000 then that will be the production size.

      Unfortunately no way of telling how many were made.

      I can also tell you that the watch was first planned in 2009/ 10 and was going to come out with "Jo Siffert" on the dial.

      Enjoy!

      dc

  • Rich

    Thanks so much, DC. Really appreciate the reply.

  • Guest

    I was a avid fan of Steve McQueen until I discovered what a wife beating piece of crap he was. I have a Monaco Gulf. I’m selling it.

  • Romel Malik

    Could you please let me know if the 1997 monaco came with leather or metal strap? Was it automatic or quartz?

    Thanking you in advance.

    • In 1997 it came only with a leather strap and a Calibre 17 automatic movement