Review: Grey TAG Heuer Monaco Vintage

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   2 October 2010   |   38 Comments  

While TAG Heuer released a re-edition of the famous 1133B Blue Monaco only five years after bringing the Monaco back, it has taken another 13 years for a re-edition of the grey 1133G Heuer Monaco to appear- the TAG Heuer Monaco Vintage Chronograph.

This new watch- Ref CAW211B (The watch shown for this review is pre-production and still has the old Reference number as shown at Basel- CAW2115)- is basically a grey version of the 40th Anniversary Monaco released last year, with two important differences. Firstly, the case of the Monaco Vintage is finished in a subtle charcoal stainless steel and secondly, the Monaco Vintage will sell for almost half the price.

The 40th Anniversary and new Monaco Vintage are my favourite of the re-edition Monaco series, because they are the truest to the original design. And if you’re going to do a re-edition, then you may as well get the details right, which for the most part, is exactly what the Monaco Vintage does.

Heritage

Isn’t a Heuer Monaco meant to be blue? While blue is indeed the iconic Monaco colour, many collectors prefer the grey 1133G Monaco to the one that McQueen wore in Le Mans. There is something a little more stealthy about the grey dial that many prefer. Personally, I love the blue, white and red combination of the 1133B Monaco, but you have to love the contrast between the slate grey dial and the bright red accents and hands.

The original 1133G Monaco had two main variations- sub-dials in grey (as in the example below) or in a contrasting black, as adopted for the re-edition. You can see from the photo below that the Monaco Vintage sticks very close to the original. Putting aside the differences in the case and- importantly- pushers (which you can read about here), the only two changes worth pointing out are the lack of the metal date-window border and slight changes to the design of the hands, especially the central chrono. seconds hand and the two sub-dial hands.

Design

The Monaco Vintage is based on the current Calibre 12 Monaco design, which means a 39mm case and a sapphire crystal replacing the plexiglass. As mentioned above, the case has a subtle charcoal finish that is incredibly hard to photograph accurately, but looks fantastic. There was speculation about whether the watch is PVD- it’s not- but it does have a darker finish that the usual Monaco colour.

The photo below gives fair indication of the case colour- note that the pushers and crown are the usual stainless steel colour, so you can see the contrast.

The dial has a similar finish to the original Heuer Monaco Grey, with a slight vertical grain pattern. I love the contrast of the red and the grey, although the only point worth noting is that in some light it can be hard to see the white hash markers on the dial, as there isn’t enough contrast with the light grey.

Overall the watch looks great- with only one minor gripe…what happened to the sub-dial hands? The original design as used on the 40th Anniversary Monaco is a simple circle with a stubby straight line. For some reason, the Monaco Vintage changes to a more pointy design, which not only makes the watch looks less like the original, but also simply doesn’t look as good. To cap it off, theese hands are finished in silver, instead of the original- and “correct”- white.

I doubt that anyone is not going to buy the watch because of this small change, but you have to ask: why make the change in the first place? It’s not better, just needlessly different.

The watch is finished with a great rally-style leather strap featuring a Heuer shield on the deployment strap. It’s a great strap and is the same one used on the Blue 40th Anniversary Monaco. One other feature worth pointing out about this strap- it has a built-in removal tool. The Spring bars has a small vertical “handle” that you simply pull to release the strap. It’s a superb system that works so well you wonder why every leather strap doesn’t use the same system.

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