Parsons New School for Design Monaco

Back in October, TAG Heuer announced the “art of watchmaking” competition with Parsons the New School for Design, where students were given the chance to put their own spin on the iconic Monaco. The key rule of the competition was not to alter the basic square Monaco case, but almost everything else was open, including the material, color and design of the dial, sub-dials, hands, indexes and folding buckle.

The winner has the chance to have their design released as a Limited Edition series, which is a great opportunity for a young designer.

But playing with an iconic design isn’t easy, because the key elements of the Monaco are so well-known: the pale 70s blue dial; white sub-dials and a red central hand.

TAG Heuer have successfully evolved the Monaco design into two distinct looks today- retro (Monaco re-edition) and futuristic (Monaco 24). A good Monaco design should either capture that feeling of motor racing in the 1970s (the exotic locations, the speed, the danger and the glamour) or project that essence forward into a technical design that echos Formula 1 today.

This week, the final 24 Parsons designs were published on the TAG Heuer Facebook page for comment.

Is there one of these designs that I think is perfect? No. Some of the designs lack the DNA of the Monaco and are too fussy, falling into the trap of being different only for the sake of being different. Of course, the purpose of a competition like this is to push the boundaries, so with that in mind, here are my top three.

Top Three

1. Wooden Monaco

Overall, this is my favourite design, as its simple, modern, but still feels like a Monaco. I would have painted the grey dial traditional Monaco blue and the wood-coloured base in white to link this look back to the original design.

While looking distinctly modern, this design keeps the key Monaco features, including the balanced sub-dials and the circular inner-dial. I also like the design of the crown and pushers and the contrast of the black and the orange.

So, overall a nice, clean design- but the colours need to be reworked to make it really click.

2.The bumblebee

This next design pushes out the boat a little further and is more ambitious that my first selection. Again, I like the simplicity of the dial and the 3D design elements on the sub-dials and the date window. The yellow is a little jarring, but it kind of works with the black PVD.

3. Mesh Monaco

Another simple design for my bronze medal. I like the textured dial, the rubber strap and again the circular inner-dial linking back to the Monaco’s of the past. I’m not a fan of the sub-dials on this one, and the hands are too fussy, but overall it’s still a good-looking watch- and still a Monaco.

What do you think?

OK, so I’ve picked my three, now its your turn. Below are the remaining 21 designs, which you can vote for and leave comments here.

  • Nick F

    Interesting concepts. IMO, I don't see them capturing the essence of the Monaco, i.e. elements of motor racing.

    Attending GT races or spending sometime on the race track might be a good way to get some inspiration.

  • Wisconsin Proud

    Crap, pure and simple crap.

    Why have they done this to their most iconic watch.

    Wake up!!!!!!!

  • Justin

    Sorry to be another in the comments section with a negative comment (apologies DC)…

    I beg to ask the question – why deface such an iconic watch with designs that look as if they have been randomly selected out of an IKEA catelogue? A classroom of 5 year old kids with a colour-in sheet, some crayon/pencils could yield a better result!

    If inspiration is what they require, TAG Heuer should open this competition to their enthusiasts. My belief is many out there (including myself) could create a dial face more befitting of the Monaco than these design school students with the same design regulations. None of the entries capture the essence of what defines a Monaco – motorsports.

    Should the winning entry even be produced (god forbid), it better be a limited edition of 1/1 (a reminder to never deface such an iconic watch again)…

  • DC

    Now that is a good idea…design our own Monaco.

    No need to apologise for your comments- Nick and you make the same point that I made- irrespective of the merits of the design, do these contain enough Monaco DNA? I don't think so.

    I have no problem with the idea of a Design School offering up fresh ideas on an iconic design, even if all it does is remind us why we like the original so much in the first place.


  • Justin

    DC – gladly help you write up a section for a 'Design your own Monaco dial' with the same rules and regulations for this design exercise. See if you can pull some strings to get endorsement and support from TAG Heuer (laughs).

    Furthermore, my brother in law (who's recently been bitten by the watch collecting bug) can help us create/render and dummy up a 3D CAD CAW2111 Monaco model, which entries can then design/build their own dial upon.

    Although I already have an idea for a Monaco dial in mind, I would personally like to see fellow Heuer/TAG Heuer/motorsports enthusiast's own "interpretation" on the Monaco. No two will be the same in my opinion and if there are double, then I guess we have a clear winner.

    Back on topic… I agree that each design from the design school students have their own merits, however before the design breif, they should have given them a history and the origins of the watch (which may have had drastically different results).

  • Oh dear me…


    • DC

      I can see you wearing some of the art-deco ones Rich…

  • Alex

    I kind of like the mesh one. Only instead of a mesh, make the dial a fine weave carbon fibre, use the traditional hands and maybe neaten up the sub-dials by making them the same size as each other.

    • DC

      Agree Alex- most of these would look a lot better if they used normal hands.


  • wynonie

    So, when looking at any Monaco variant I ask myself the simple question, 'Would Steve McQueen have worn this watch?'. The Monaco 24? yep, I reckon. The new grey Monaco? yep. Any of these above? don't think so!

  • Csimp

    Surprised none of them had the name Icon or Iconic for a name…

  • Alex

    wynonie, Steve McQueen's son, Chad, shares your thoughts.

    <img src="; alt="" />

  • Alice

    Amazing designs! Loved the Wooden Monaco. It has a clean and elegant design, and would definitely want to see it in the stores! Perhaps you are right about the colors, but that is an easy thing to change.. Too bad it is not ready before the holidays.. Great team, Monaco and Parsons!

  • Meehna Goldsmith

    This is a great post and one that inspires a lot of discussion–my favorite kind. I think it would be great if TAG Heuer opened up the competition — or created a new one — for enthusiasts. I'd love to see what you Monaco-ites/philes come up with.



  • DC

    Meehna's article on the TAG Heuer/ Parsons project (pun intended) can be found here: