Finally it’s here. After at least two years of speculation around what TAG Heuer would do to mark the 50th Anniversary of the iconic Monaco, we can now show you the first of the commemorative series: the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 50th Anniversary 1969-1979 edition, reference CAW211V.
The first of the series? Instead of the usual approach of a single re-edition watch issued in 500 or maybe 1000 pieces, TAG Heuer will instead launch five 50th Anniversary watches over the coming five months, with each series designed to echo the design ethos of each of the five decades that have passed since the first Monaco was launched back in 1969. If you’re not familiar with the history of the Monaco, then make sure you check our our Ultimate Guide to the Vintage Heuer Monaco for everything you need to know. Or if more recent history is more your speed, why not catch up on the 40th Anniversary Monaco from 2009.
Each LE series will be made in much smaller numbers than you might expect, with only 169 examples of each being made, meaning a total of 5 x 169 = 845 50th Anniversary watches.
Appropriately, and not just for chronological reasons, we start at the beginning, with the first LE series marking the decade from 1969-1979, with the colours chosen for this decade having a distinctly 70s feel.
From Every Angle
TAG Heuer has chosen not to go down the easy path with this first re-edition- simply pushing out a blue or grey dial aping the 1133B or 1133G and adding circular chronograph pushers would have kept many happy, but wouldn’t have really moved the game on given that re-editions to both these watches have already been launched back in 2009 (CAW211A) and 2010 (CAW211B).
Instead we have a new dial design with a true 70s-style colour scheme. We’ll get back to the dial in a moment, but let’s start with the rest of the watch.
As you can see from the photos below, the new CAW211V is based on the 39mm steel CAW211P, with the same case, same pushers and same Calibre 11 movement. And that’s no bad thing, because the Monaco re-edition case has stood well the test of time, essentially being unchanged since 1997 with the exception of growing in diameter by 1mm and replacing the plexi-glass of the 90s original with a more sophisticated sapphire crystal.
The one point that may disappoint collectors are the chronograph pushers, to which we’ve already alluded. Yes, it’s true that the original 70s Monaco has circular pump-pushers rather than the square pushers of the modern Monaco and some collectors were hoping to see this style picked up on the 50th Anniversary watch.
Still, there can be no arguing that these are well executed, blending perfectly into the case design.
The crown remains exactly where you’d expect it to be- which as every Monaco enthusiast will tell you, is on the “wrong” side of the case (the left-hand side) just as it was on the original Calibre 11 Monaco.
Overall, it’s a good-looking design, even if it is a familiar one that doesn’t push the boundaries of the Monaco lineage.
OK, so if the case is familiar, then the dial certainly isn’t- we’ve never had a historical Heuer Monaco model featuring these colours. The watch has a green dial with Côtes de Genève finishing, which gives a beautiful textured finish- something really special and a first for the Monaco. If you’re not familiar with this finish and how it’s applied, then we’ve got you covered with Mark Moss’ great article on the origins of this finish and how Heuer has offered this on historic- mainly Carrera- models.
The two registers have a starburst black gold-plated finish, with the dial also featuring Red/ brown (officially it’s brown) and yellow touches on hands and indices, most notably on the 3 o’clock register.
Those with a keen eye will notice that the font used on the dial has changed from the sans-serif “Monaco” offered on the current Calibre 11 edition (CAW211P- below, bottom), to a more vintage serif font.
What the image above also illustrates is a slight change to the design of the hour and minute hands- the coloured triangular tip remains, but the lume strip is much broader and the red in-fill on the blue Monaco hands is gone.
Another change can be found at the back of the watch, where the sapphire caseback of the current Calibre 11 range has been replaced by a closed caseback with a circular pattern- a finish that echoes not only the 1969 original, but also the first of the 1997 Re-edition watches.
While we do like getting a peek at the movement, the clear casebacks have become so widely used that it’s almost a novelty to go back to a closed back. Some of the better re-editions of the last few years (such as the Jack Heuer Carrera 80 and the Monza) have also featured a closed steel caseback.
Note that the watch that we’ve photographed here is the prototype from Baselworld back in March, and so while there is no individual number on this example, we hope that the final production watches will be individually numbered.
Strap- Reference FC6466
There’s a single strap option for the new Monaco- a vintage-style brown calfskin strap, with a textured finish. The clasp is the usual- and excellent- Heuer-logo deployant. Given that the lugs on the case are the standard Monaco 22mm, any of the straps that TAG Heuer has offered on recent Monaco series will fit the newest Monaco if you feel like changing things around.
On the Wrist
The 69-79 Monaco feels familiar on the wrist- as you’d expect given the case is carried over from previous Calibre 11 models. While the brown strap is a good fit with the colours on the dial, we’d be tempted to try the watch on the black calf-skin strap offered on the blue Calibre 11 Monaco.
The unique dial finish bounces the light around the dial at different angles, which we really liked. The colour scheme? That comes down to personal preference. We admire the spirit of not simply churning out another blue dial, but it will take some time to get used to the brown, orange and green colours.
Price and Availability- Monaco 1969-1979 Edition Reference CAW211V
The first of the 50th Anniversary Monaco watches is priced as follows across key markets:
- Switzerland: CHF 6,400
- Europe: EUR 5,950
- UK: GBP 5,350
- USA: $6,550
- Japan: JPY 705,000
- Hong Kong: $52,700
To put those prices into perspective the standard production Calibre 11 CAW211P currently retails in the US for US$5,900, so a premium of around $600 for the new watch feels pretty fair to us given the limited numbers- as discussed earlier, only 169 examples of each of the five watches will be made, making this one of the lowest production TAG Heuer LEs for some time.
The watch comes in a special box, with each of the five series have its own bespoke box. For the 1969-79 Monaco, we have a dark blue box decorated with the Heuer logo and a horizontal chequer-pattern stripe, with the watch placed on a yellow cushion in a green interior – the same colour found on the dial.
One of the challenging aspects for collectors will be the dilemma between moving fast to make sure that you can secure one of only 169 watches, but at the same time working out which of the five editions will be the right one for you- we expect to see the second edition representing 1979-89 to break cover sometime in late June.