Over the last few years the TAG Heuer’s Monaco family tree has branched off into two distinct directions. On the one hand, we have heritage-themed models that remain faithful to the look and feel of the 70s original, such as the 2015 TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 we showed you a few weeks ago- perfect for the traditionalist. But for those who favour avant garde rather than retro, we also have the modern Monaco family, made up of chronographs such as the Twenty-Four and LS. Based on the original Monaco V4 case shown in 2004, these models reinterpret the flat, square original into a three-dimensional design with a distinctive wrap-around crystal and demonstrate that the Monaco is not just a tip of the hat to (TAG) Heuer’s past.
And joining this modern brigade of Monacos is the subject of today’s in depth review- the 2015 Monaco Calibre 12 Boutique Edition.
It’s no secret that 2015 is something of a transition year for TAG Heuer as it looks to redefine its look and model range under the leadership of Jean-Claude Biver, but the new Monaco perhaps gives a few visual clues about how the series will evolve over the next few years.
The Monaco Boutique Edition uses the same case as the Monaco LS below, meaning a 40.5mm diameter stainless steel case with a combination of polished and brushed surfaces. While early LS cases, had the engraved “TAG Heuer” branding on the bottom front of the case, more recent models have abandoned this for a simpler, more pleasing finish.
Look a little more closely and you see that the dial layout of the two watches is the same: hour chronograph counter at 6 o’clock; minute chronograph counter at 9 o’clock and running second counter at 3 o’clock. The only difference is that the LS offered TAG Heuer’s “Linear System” (the 3 o’clock sub-dial above) and Rotating discs (6 and 9 o’clock above), where the new model uses conventional hands- and it’s a much cleaner, if less technical, look.
The hands are perhaps the only nod to the past, with the hour, minute and sub-dial hands each inspired by the design of the Monaco 1133B worn by Steve McQueen. While the black-tip minute and hour hands look sharp, it can be difficult to see the black triangle pointers against the black dial, a problem the black second hand solves with its red tip.
The 3 and 9 o’clock registers have an angled square frame, which work really well with the case design, even if their extended size means that there isn’t room for the same treatment at 6 o’clock.
Overall it’s a design that I liked the more that I wore the watch. I’ve always loved the Monaco 24/ LS case and this is probably the most “traditional” dial that we’ve seen used in this case design, and one that looks great with just a few red markers to set off the otherwise monochrome dial.
Probably the only change that I would consider is whether to do away with the 6 o’clock register entirely- as you can see below, it would give the watch an even cleaner look.
Movement and Caseback
The watch above is a prototype (hence the XXXXXX numbering), but shows the final caseback design. Sitting under the hood is a Calibre 12 movement- based on Sellita’s SW300 with a Dubois Depraz module.
On the Wrist
Like all the modern Monaco models, the Boutique Edition feels significantly larger than the heritage models. Sure, they are 1.5mm wider in diameter, but it’s the depth of the case that you really notice rather than the width.
Helping the watch not feel too large is the new, textured calf-skin strap, which weighs a lot less than the steel bracelet offered on the Monaco LS. The new generation of TAG Heuer straps are a welcome change from the conventional alligator designs, and fit the personality of the watch perfectly.
Price and Availability- Reference CAL2113
Expect to see the new 2015 Monaco Calibre 12 Boutique Edition in the stores from July. As the name implied, you’ll only be able to see these at TAG Heuer’s Boutiques- authorised dealers miss out on the new Monaco.
Pricing is $6,950 in the US, compared to the Monaco LS which is priced at $8700. For those in Europe expect to pay EUR 6,250. How you think about that price will depend on your mindset. It’s more than a heritage-style Calibre 11 Monaco, but less than a Monaco LS or Monaco Twenty-Four.