Hands on Review: TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Silver Dial

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   12 June 2011   |   16 Comments  

Here are the first live photos of  the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Heritage Chronograph- the latest in the line of Heuer- branded Monaco chronographs featuring the modern Calibre 11 movement and the distinctive left-sided crown.

TAG Heuer continue to explore both sides of the Monaco- the futuristic models, through watches like the Monaco V4, Monaco Mikrograph and Monaco Twenty-Four, and the heritage models, through Heuer branded watches that evoke the original spirit of the 1970s.

Heritage

The Monaco story stretches back to 1969, when the original 1133B Monaco (above, left) was released, powered by the in-house “Chronomatic” Calibre 11 movement. History shows that the original watch was a bit of a failure, being a little ahead of its time. But thanks to the evocative image of Steve McQueen and the renewed interest in TAG Heuer’s heritage by the late 1990s, the watch was resurrected in 1997 and stands today as the most iconic model in the range.

The first of the modern Calibre 11 Monaco’s was the Blue 40th Anniversary Monaco released in 2009- a tribute that original 1133B. While the shape of the case differed a little, the design of the dial, hour-markers and hands was almost identical to the 1969 original. The watch was fitted with the modern “Calibre 11″ movement, first developed for the  Autavia re-edition in 2003.

Last year saw the theme extended to a Grey re-edition of the Heuer 1133G Monaco, but this time with a 39mm case (Blue 40th anniversary has a 38mm case) and initially shown in a light PVD coating. By the time the watch made it into production the PVD finish was gone, replaced by a standard stainless steel finish. Both watches used the “Heuer” logo as a tribute to the original Monaco series.

The 2011 Monaco Calibre 11 Chronograph follows these two successful Limited Editions, but with one important difference: this is no re-edition.

Heuer never made a Silver dial/ Orange highlight Monaco, although the colour scheme was used on several Autavia models, such as this one.

Below you can see the new Silver Calibre 11 Monaco (Centre) with the Calibre 17 Blue “McQueen” re-edition from 2005 (Left) and the 2010 prototype Grey Monaco Vintage re-edition

Officially, TAG Heuer insist that the new model has a Grey dial, just like the 2010 version- but as you can see below, they are very different colours. At best, the new watch is Silver-Grey, as against the “Brown-Grey” of last year’s watch.

The 2011 version uses the same circular lume markers as the standard Calibre 12 Monaco and misses out on the large hour-marker at 12 o’clock that was a feature of the GreyVintage Monaco. This means the Monaco script and Heuer shield are positioned further up the dial than last year’s model- in the same position as the standard Calibre 12 model.

Notice that the Hour markers have reverted to the style of the modern  Monaco, rather than the horizontal markers of the previous two Calibre 11 Monaco models.

Heuer or TAG Heuer?

One question that the purists will have is this: why does the watch have a Heuer logo? Let’s take a look back at the history of TAG Heuer’s use of its former name.

The first Carrera and Monaco re-edition series of 1996/ 7  both used the Heuer shield. This branding strategy continued on the original Monza re-edition of 2000, before changing when LVMH took over later that year.

From 2000 through to 2009, TH released several “heritage” watches (such as the Autavia, Targa Florio), all of which used the TAG Heuer shield. It wasn’t until the 2009 40th Anniversary Monaco that we saw the Heuer logo used again.

Since then, the logo has been used on the Silverstone re-edition (fair enough) and the 300SLR- a watch that while vintage in style, is not a historical Heuer model. And now we have the 2011 Monaco Calibre 11- again using the Heuer logo, but not being a true re-edition. So what makes a watch a “Heuer” rather than a “TAG Heuer”?

I suspect that the answer is that TH will use the Heuer logo on short-run watches that pay tribute to the past, even if they are not true re-editions of historical models. For years collectors have wanted the original logo back, and now they have what they’ve asked for. Personally, I love seeing the use of the original logo, although there does need to be some consistency in the way that it’s used, otherwise it will simply confuse people.

So while I am happy to see the Heuer logo on this watch, I suspect some will argue that this watch should be a TAG Heuer. Splitting hairs? Of course..but, hey, splitting hairs is the point of a website like Calibre 11!

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