Hands on Review- TAG Heuer Monaco Vintage Calibre 11

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.


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.


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, these 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.


The Monaco Vintage is the fourth TAG Heuer (after the Autavia, Silverstone and 40th Anniversary Monaco) to use the modern incarnation of the Calibre 11 movement. The new Calibre 11 is a ETA 2892/2 base with a Dubois Depraz Chronograph module. The Calibre 12 also uses the same ETA/ DD combination, but with a different Dubois-Depraz module.

Cosmetically, the Movement looks fantastic and a lot of work has gone into the finishing of the dial which is visible through the sapphire case back.

The rotor has the traditional Cotes de Geneve finishing as well as the red Heuer shield. Note also the Perlage (the overlapping circular patterns) finish visible underneath the rotor.

Lastly, one of the great things about using the Calibre 11 movement is that its been specially engineered to allow the crown to sit at 9 o’clock- just as it was on the original Monaco (by necessity of the original design) and just as it should be on all Monaco’s. There is no design benefit to this- it’s simply a tip of the hat to the original.

Comparison to Standard Monaco

To make these comparison shots, I have once again pulled in my CW2113 Monaco, which is a 2005 model, meaning Calibre 17 movement, 38mm case and plexi. I mounted the Blue Monaco on the same strap as the Monaco Vintage- I think it looks a lot nicer than the Crocodile strap that comes standard..although it would be even better in blue leather.

The purpose of these photos is to try to show the true colour of the charcoal case- you can see that the depth of the charcoal really depends on the light, as it has a reflective finish.

I have to say that I didn’t really notice the larger diameter of the Monaco Vintage, but as you can see from the photo below, the case is slightly thicker (Monaco Vintage on the right) and the sapphire crystal slightly less curved, making the watch look noticeably larger- but I suspect you’d only notice the difference if you line it up next to the older design.

Comparison to 40th Anniversary Monaco

It’s easy to think of the Monaco Vintage as being a grey-dial version of the 40th Anniversary Monaco- because that’s basically what it is. Same movement. Same case design. Same strap. Same dial design (Heuer logo, vertical hour-markers, contrasting sub-dial). Same Hands.

Apart from the charcoal case, you’ll only notice two small changes- the design of the sub-dial hands and the lack of a metal surround on the date window.

If you took out a measuring tape you’d also notice that the 40th Anniversary case is 38mm, while the Vintage is 39mm.

But there is one big difference between the two colours- and that’s price.

Price and Availability

The Monaco Vintage will retail for USD5,200 in the US, which is about a USD700 premium over the RRP of the standard Calibre 12 Monaco.

To put that in perspective, The Monaco 40th Anniversary was close to USD10,000. Sure, there were only 1,000 of the 40th Anniversary model (1,860 of the Monaco Vintage) and the 40th Anniversary came in a nice box with a special book….but you’d have to say that the Monaco Vintage looks outstanding value when lined up against its blue brother.

Overall I really liked this Monaco. I’m a Monaco fan anyway, but I was surprised how much difference the Sapphire crystal made- OK, it’s not true to the original design, but it does look great.

What I liked about this Monaco- especially when compared to the Monaco Twenty-Four that I reviewed last month, was that this is a much more classical watch that you could easily wear with a suit without attracting too much attention- certainly less attention than a black PVD watch with bright orange stripes.

I loved the Charcoal case finish as well, although as noted, you really need to see this in person to get a handle on the true colour.

The TAG Heuer Monaco Vintage should be available in the next few weeks, although with only 1,860 to go around, you may not find them in every dealer, so if you want one it’s worth thinking about placing an order.

As the owner of too many vintage Heuer watches, I guess the obvious question is whether I’d recommend the re-edition or the original. I’ll take the easy way out and say that it depends. Once you get plugged into the Vintage Heuer world it’s quite possible to find an authentic original Monaco and parts and meet the right people to competently service your watch. But for many people, the risk of buying vintage and the extra maintenance costs will drive you towards a re-edition that offers 90-95% the same looks but without the hassle.

It’s impossible to convince the vintage crew that a re-edition is ever “better” than the original, just as many TAG Heuer buyers would never consider a 40 year-old watch that probably has a 50% chance of having some dodgy parts/ history. As collectors, we’re lucky to have the choice.

Lastly, you may have noticed that these all the photos in this review are “clickable” to a larger size, and I’ll try to do the same with all future posts.

Postscript- 13 November 2010

Since this review was written the first of these models have begun to find their way into the stores in South East Asia, Japan and Australia- good news. However, the production watch has lost the charcoal coating of the prototype used for this review, meaning it uses the same stainless steel polished case and the other models in the Monaco line-up.

So what happened? I understand from TAG Heuer that they were not 100% happy with the durability of the coated finish, and so decided to back back to stainless steel. A real shame given the distinctive colour of the case, but certainly better than releasing the watch as it was and having people complain that their new Monaco was not up to standard. Hopefully TAG Heuer can improve the quality of that coating process and use it on a later model.

  • Lou

    Great review as always. I am finding those subdial hands unexpectedly off-putting.

  • Justin

    Great work as always DC!

    My greatest concern is the disconcerting pushes taken from the modern Monaco CW/CAW varient. It detracts away from the ‘vintage’ feel. For the untrained eye, majority would probably fall for it being an authentic vintage model up until close inspection.

    This watch will appeal predominantly to the many that are not as keen on taking the plunge into purchasing a vintage Monaco with an unclear past and the most commonly associated issue with owning one: the lack of availablity on NOS original part. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that another Heuer enthusiast will point out the fact that you purchased a re-issue 1133 and give you greif about it.

    I second Lou on the subdial hands – not a fan. Scarily enough, I think the subdial hands are probably enough to put off some ‘purists’ whom want details of the entire dial and hands to be as close to the original as possible.

    The price difference between the 40th anniversary re-issue compared to the new 1133G in my opinion is unjustified. A blue dial face with 2 subdial hands, metal surround on the date and display case doesnt cost several thousand to reproduce… but each to their own.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of re-issued items, but it’s good to see that Tag has made attempts to retain some elements of the original, while not being exactly the same as the original (thus not de-valuing the vintage Heuer market for collectors like ourselves).

    DC – you’re definately right about the crocodile strap not being as nice as the Monaco vintage. Replacing mine on my calibre 12 Monaco as soon as it starts showing signs of wear and tear for the vintage.

  • Wisconsin Proud

    To me, the side by side pics show the blue dial to be a clear winner in this contest.

  • Wynonie

    Great review – thanks as ever.

    Looks amazing, but its not a stand out for me as I have a 40yr ltd edition and must have the new 24.

    I'm sure it will be popular though, and I completely agree about the straps!

  • Hey DC, nice review.

    Tell me, does the date really start to change @ 20:45?



  • Matt

    Great post as always, David! One question – where did you obtain a second strap for your '05 Monaco? I LOVE that strap!

  • Justin

    Matt – the straps can be found as NOS from several eBay vendors. However, I'm rather cautious of eBay as authenticity cannot be validated from photos (as I have had two instances where items received differed drastically from the photos listed!). Also, try Chronotrader – plenty of NOS straps to be found there from fellow collectors.

    Andy0 – I've never seen a watch where the date changes before the stroke of midnight. If it does change before then, the watch need a serious overhaul! What you see is just a minor adjustment error.

  • DC

    Thanks for your comments guys,

    I have to admit that I am having second thoughts about whether to go for this instead of the Monaco 24 that I have ordered. I loved the 24…but I'm not sure if the striped dial is for me. So maybe that what's I liked about the Monaco Vintage- more subdued. Then again, maybe I'm just being boring..

    The straps are great and are available from ADs. They're not cheap, but they do look good and the "removal device" (am sure that it has a proper name) is very easy to use.

    Good question on when the date flipped over- yes, in this case it did start to change at 20: 45…but this was a pre-production watch, so I'm not sure if this is typical for the Calibre 11 movement.


  • LostInTime

    David, thanks for the great pics and writeup; your blog is an amazing resource.

    I just love the vintage details on this watch such as the old Heuer logo. I am actually purchasing this watch because it is a bit of a sleeper. It draws no attention to itself and the red hands add just a hint of coolness. Overall it may not be the "coolest" new watch out, but it is one that will never go out of style.

  • LostInTime

    David, I have a further question on the watch case. As PVD does not have to be black only, do we know with certainty that this watch is or is not PVD? Although the description of the watch states PVD, I could see TAG opting not as the process gets expensive. If this is not PVD, it would seem the gunmetal colour will be prone to scratches and being coloured, it will not be able to be brushed out. This could be a critical issue for me.

  • DC

    No, but its a good question. I have been told that it is not PVD, but I haven't yet be able to get an answer on how the case is treated.

    I'll post an update when I hear more


  • boxaw

    Hi – Is this the same watch? There seem some subtle differences to the pre-prod (dials) but it looks the same to me…

    If not, I would be grateful if anyone could tell me what version it is. I am going to be buying a Monaco soon and can't decide between this and the 40th anniversary blue (If I can find one) but am unsure as to whether they grey is available yet.

    • DC

      My advice on this Monaco is to hold off on any non-refundable deposit until you see one in person. Take a look at this link over at WatchUseek which shows one of the production watches that has arrived in Japan….but its missing the charcoal coating: http://forums.watchuseek.com/f25/quick-update-new

      Could be that there has been a last minute change?


  • Justin

    I finally got a chance to see this watch in person yesterday. It's gorgeous in person and I must say the grey is growing on me even though I'm a supporter of the blue dial.

    In regards to the PVD coating, I couldn't see anything drastically different – looked identical to the production Cal.12 cases with a slight tinge of blue. Another thing to point out was the hour markers, hands and sub-dial hands all appeared to be "light grey" as well, similar to that depicted in boxaw's picture. Besides that, it looks identical to the pictures David has posted up of the pre-production prototype.

    However, the $700USD premium does over the Cal.12 price does not apply for Australia. I didn't ask for the specific price, but was hinted it's closer to the price of the 40th anniversary Monaco…

  • LostInTime

    Thank you Justin. That seals it for me, one more of these limited edition watches will be hitting store shelves and not coming home with me. These last minute changes, especially the case are mystifying and disappointing.

  • DC

    I'm still hoping that there is another explanation for this, but sadly it does look as though we are looking at a standard stainless steel case. What a wasted opportunity- it was a subtle charcoal colour, but I really liked it and it helped make this Monaco different to others in the range.

    Maybe I can buy the prototype!


  • Justin

    Oddly enough, I agree with both of you. If it were actually in the charcoal colour like the prototype, I firmly believe I would have walked home with it and discarded my support for the blue dial only Monaco's…

    The most likely (unconfirmed) answer as to why the re-issue grey lacks its charcoal coating may predominantly due to production costs as LostInTime previously denoted.

    Indeed it was a wasted opportunity, and these recent last minute changes may leave a bad taste in the mouths of TAG collectors. Never the less, TAG must have a reason behind their actions, and although not to the personal liking for us, others may feel the complete opposite.

  • Martin

    Cheers DC,the knowledge your site has given me has allowed me to get on very well with the guys that work in the main Tag Heuer shop in Singapore.As a result they phoned me Wednesday afternoon to say they had just recieved the vintage grey Monaco. I went down,checked it out,gave it careful consideration and then bought.I love it , classy ,stylish,understated and imho a work of art. I read the comments on the sub dial hands but for me the silver looks great.Leather strap is beautiful. Thanks again DC , georgeous watch.

  • DC

    Congratulations Martin,

    If you get the chance, please take some close-up photos as I'm sure everyone here would love to see the final production version of the watch.



  • Cliff

    Does anyone know where to get it in the US? I spoke to one retailer and they said that it's not available for release here until Feb. That said, and I'm speculating, it may be possible that the case MAY be updated at that time.


  • DC

    Cliff, Rob from Topper Jewelers (our great sponsor here at Calibre 11) should be able to help- just click on the Topper banner in the side-bar to get in touch.

    I wouldn't get your hopes up about the issue being fixed within a couple of months- I think that the charcoal finish will have to wait for another model.


  • Cliff

    Thanks David! I'll give Rob a call.

    Caliber 11 is a great resource and I just want to say thanks for providing such thorough reviews and feedback to all us Heuer fans.


  • DC

    Thanks Cliff- appreciate the kind words

  • Cal

    Im sure Watches of Switzerland in Melbourne has both version of this watch. I was there today and saw the 2 grey models and one was a darker gray. Didnt get a chance to ask sales staff.

    • DC

      Interesting- I'll take a look next time I'm in town…thanks for the update

  • PDP

    Looks like the date is changing at a quarter to 9 in the 4th picture.

  • DC

    PDP, this is a prototype watch, so that may explain the date change. I can't recall when I took these photos, but I don't think that this is what happens in reality with the Calibre 11- others may be able to confirm


  • Andy

    Hi, i've learned so much and gained much more appreciation for the brand and its history after stumbling on this great site. Have always been a Tag Heuer fan when i had a 2000 Exclusive many years ago. Recently added a Carrera 1887 V2 (which i love to bits) to my collection for my birthday last nov. Dropped by my local AD here in Malaysia and saw the grey vintage sitting there. Strapped it on and fell in love. However i will leave it to fate. The deal with the store manager is, if it's still there come this Nov then it's gonna be my 2011 birthday present!

    • DC

      Thanks Andy- sounds like you've got a great collection.

      November? Don't know if I like your chances…maybe bring it forward to May!



  • Michael

    I really love your review here, thanks for all the detail! I was just in Las Vegas and stumbled (almost literally as I had already started the bachelor party) into the TAG Heuer store there while waiting for a friend to arrive from the airport. I've been looking into the Caliber 12 Monaco online for a couple months and infatuated with it the more I looked and except for passing through the duty free shop in JFK I hadn't found one to try on. I was eager to do it again (in case I hit it big on the table games). I hadn't ever seen the Vintage edition and wasn't even aware that it existed. It was really a combination of things that made me pull the trigger: the band was huge (I am not a big fan of the blue gator), the limited number of pieces added a little too. The left side mounted crown and horizontal hour markers especially were the biggest accents, next to the price difference of the 40th edition that made me want to pull the trigger. That and being on vacation in Vegas…

    Thanks again for a great summary and piece of literature for it.

  • DC

    Thanks for posting your comments Michael. I love the idea of a watch bought in Vegas while on a Bachelor party- livin' the dream, my friend.



  • mb

    Excellent review – thanks for that.

    I like the idea of the grey but, IMO, it really lacks the "punch" of the blue.

    I lusted after the blue Monaco for years – I was sure it was going to be the first high-end watch I'd buy. Alas, when the time came, I tried it on and the shape and size just don't suit me! I got an Omega Planet Ocean instead at the time. I do now have a classy Tag – the 1887 Chrono as well as a couple of other nice watches but I still look at all the Monaco variants with a whistful sigh.

  • DC

    Yes, its a more subtle dial…but I think its better for the office.

    Have you tried a vintage Monaco? The case is more rectangular than the re-edition..may be a way of scratching the itch!


  • Matt

    Great review and outstanding photos, very close to picking one of these up from Joma or AW. Just curious, can the vintage grey handle the standard Monaco bracelet or is it a difference size (or color)?


  • Thanks Matt. Yes, I have seen the new Calibre 12/ 11 Monacos on the older Calibre 17 Monaco bracelet- seems to be a perfect fit.


  • Badler

    I know this is a very old article, but since I have a question about this particular watch (I read this article, and it certainly convinced to take the plunge and get one) I was hoping you might be able to help. I got the watch second hand from a shop in Hawaii around New Year’s they provided me with a one year warranty. It initially ran very slow, -20 seconds a day, so I sent it back and now it only loses 3 seconds/day which I can live with. Now a new and more irksome problem has arisen, the minute hand on the chronograph has somehow gotten off of dead center. The second hand points straight up each and every reset, but the minute hand leans a little to the left, after eleven seconds of running, the minute marker points straight up. Any idea what might have caused this or how it could be remedied would be much appreciated 🙂 I searched and searched and found nothing like it on any other mention of a modern Tag Heuer Chronograph. Thank You!

  • Jim

    I admired the Monaco’s unusual square case and stopwatch capability from seeing it in late-’60s car magazine ads by MG Miten (Pasadena) or maybe Vilem B. Haan (Westwood). A friend in my industry referred my to a downtown jeweler, where I picked up my Monaco brand new for $125 AIR.. Have never seen another like it in person or online. A brushed stainless case, It has no date window at six o’clock, but a THIRD subdial that records up to 12 hours. The start-stop and reset buttons at two and four o’clock have ROUND heads unlike most models I’ve seen online.

    Anyone able to identify it?

  • Jim

    Thanks, Viiktor, I actually found the model online several weeks ago, Model number started 739 or 793, hope that helps! Yes, the stem is at three o’clock.