Ultimate Guide to the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Series

Few modern TAG Heuer watches have left as much of an impression as the first time that I saw the Monaco Vintage (CW2118), which was released in 2005 as a limited edition of 4000 watches to mark what would have been the 75th birthday of Steve McQueen. It was an outrageous design: a crisp white dial (one of the first times a Monaco has been sold with a white dial) matched with bold blue and red stripes on the right hand-side of the dial and with red sub-dials and hands.

The design of course was based on the driving suit worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 movie Le Mans, which is the movie that would eventually make the Monaco the iconic watch it is today.

The success of the Monaco Vintage meant that it was inevitable that other versions would follow, presenting TAG Heuer with the same dilemma that any watch company with a hit Limited Edition faces: How many Limited Edition versions with the same design theme can be made before the magic is lost?

Gulf II- Monaco CW211A Calibre 17

In 2007 the next Monaco Vintage was released (CAW211A), this time a black-dial watch with the iconic light blue and orange colours of Gulf Oil, the sponsors of the Porsche 917 driven by McQueen in Le Mans. Interestingly, the watch now carried the word “Gulf” above the date window instead of “Monaco”. Why this didn’t appear on the first Vintage model is perhaps because of the complex story behind the ownership of the Gulf Oil brand.

Up until its 1985 merger with Standard Oil, Gulf Oil was one of the world’s largest Oil companies. The Gulf brand survived the merger- but only as a shadow of its former self and as a retail-only brand. Today there are two Gulf companies- one in the US and one based in London called Gulf Oil International (“GOI”), which allows independent petrol stations to franchise the Gulf Brand. In exchange for paying their franchise fee, GOI builds awareness of the Gulf brand by sponsoring Motor Sports (Aston Martin at Le Mans) and allowing the logo to be used on clothes- and other products like the Monaco. The complexity behind who owns the name in which country apparently meant that TAG Heuer were unclear whether they’d be able to sell the original White Vintage in the US- a problem that was eventually sorted out.

The Black Vintage Monaco- also a Limited Edition of 4000 watches- is a nice design and a real contrast to the first. In particular, I like the detail orange stitching on the black leather strap and the design of the right-hand sub-dial, harking back to  the design of the Calibre 15 Monaco from the 1970s.

And to my mind, that is where the Monaco-with-stripes series should have ended: two distinct models, each highly collectible.

Gulf III- CAW2113 Calibre 12

Monaco Gulf Limited edition.

Monaco Gulf Limited edition.

But in 2009, we got another striped Limited Edition Monaco (CAW2113), this time with a Grey/ metallic dial and the new Monaco Calibre 12 case (1mm larger than the previous Monaco; Sapphire Crystal; Clear caseback). As you can see below, the watch is broadly similar to the previous Black Vintage:

On its own, the “Grey Vintage” is a lovely watch and if we hadn’t already seen the design in white and black, I suspect I’d feel very different about the watch. But coming on the heels of two “Limited Edition” Striped Monaco series, it feels too derivative, a point made before at Calibre 11.

Gulf IV- Monaco CAW211R Calibre 11

2017 TAG Heuer Monaco CAW211R Calibre 11After a break of almost 8 years, we have a new Gulf Monaco- the 2017 Monaco Gulf Calibre 11- yes, the first of the Gulf Monacos to feature the Calibre 11 with its distinct crown on the left-hand side. In addition to the Gulf logo and Orange/ Blue stripes, the new watch uses a metallic blue dial for the first time (as well as being the first time that we have seen any Calibre 11 Monaco with a metallic blue dial). We also have a Heuer logo- again for the first time in this series. The handset is carried over from the standard Calibre 11 Monaco (CAW211P), which means we have the slightly unusual combination of Orange hour markers and Red hands.

The strap is spectacular- a beautiful blue strap orange “gulf” stitching.

The 2017 Monaco is a special edition (which essentially means a limited edition that is un-numbered), and will only be available in the US, which we understand is due to the licensing restrictions of the Gulf brand.

Porsche Club of America Monaco

The Gulf watches are not the only Monaco models to feature a striped dial, for example there is the special edition Monaco made for the Porsche Club of America (PCA). There were 55 watches made to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Porsche Club of America.

The PCA Monaco is based on the black Calibre 12 Monaco and uses a modified version of the leather strap found on the 40th anniversary Monaco, but this time with red stitching and a red inner-coating. The dial has a single broad red stripe with two smaller white stripes either side. In addition, there are red highlights used on the right-hand sub-dial, along with a single red sub-dial hand. Finishing off the design is the black “55” in a white circle.

The Ultimate Gulf?

Perhaps the ultimate Gulf Watch is the 2010 Monaco Twenty Four Calibre 36, reference CAL5110 (note that its the prototype shown above). The watch takes the design theme of the Gulf watches into a modern take on the Monaco, with its futuristic curved case and suspended movement.

 

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  • RT19

    The original Monaco Vintage Limited is my favorite Monaco – in fact, it's the version I own. Subtle, yet surprisingly eye-catching, and still works as a dress watch. The Gulf editions, while excellent renditions in their own rights, lose a bit of the specialness of the Vintage version.

  • DC

    Agree- I sold mine, but kind of wish that I didn't!

  • Sam

    Hi – Enjoy your site…learning a lot.

    I'm hoping someone on this site can help me. On the spur of the moment, without doing proper homework, I recently purchased a Vintage LE – but from a reputable dealer – because the style really struck me. However now I'm playing 'catch-up' to see what I purchased and have a few questions…What is the difference between a Vintage L. E. CW2118 & a Vintage LE CWA2118? I see both model numbers mentioned in this article.

    Also, I see sometimes it is mentioned that the Vintage had a run of 5000. and other places it mentiones a run of 4000?

    Can anyone help me fill in the blanks?

    Sam

  • Sam

    Clarification – this article from Dec. 2009 mentions both the CAW2118 and the CW2118 – https://www.calibre11.com/tag-heuer-monaco-range/#… –

    Sam

  • DC

    Hi Sam- my mistake. There is only one version and that ref is CW2118. It was an LE of 4000 watches.

    Apologies for the confusion

    David

  • Gareth Evans

    I have a CAW2113 Grey Gulf was this a limited edition?

    • DC

      It was- Limited Edition of 5000 watches.

      dc

      • Mike

        Do you happen to know what the retail price of this watch was when it was released? I’m looking at purchasing one and wanted to get an idea about how it holds its value.

  • Gareth Evans

    Thanks for your reply DC,but looking at the rear of my CAW2113 it states 1728/2500 were there 2 runs of the watch?

  • DC

    Hi Gareth. I did a bit more digging- turns out that the initial plan was for a LE run of 5,000 but somewhere along the line this was reduced to 2,500. Sorry for the wrong info.

    David

  • Gareth Evans

    Thanks form your help and info

    Gareth

  • discogrip

    hello im after the the Tag Monaco Vintage (CW2118) white face! what year did they release it? and can you still buy this watch new anywhere?

    Thanks

  • DC

    Hi Disco,

    2005 for the White-dial Monaco. Don't think that you'll find any new ones in the stores, but I've seen some on eBay and they do come up for sale on various sales forums every so often.

    David

  • Justin

    Here's one from John's Watches from eBay. Reputable US seller, however have seen them go for less than the asking price. Never the less (link)

  • Alex

    When did the Monaco go from plexiglass to glass face? I'm confused because the above text appears to say 2009. Is that correct?

  • DC

    Yes, Alex- 2009 models generally have plexi; 2010 models generally have crystal.

    The easiest way to tell is by the movement. Calibre 17 Monaco = plexi; Calibre 12 Monaco = crystal

    David

  • Juan

    Hi DC,

    I like watches a whole bunch and just purchased a CW2118 from a pawnshop. There are no box or papers and I am on a business trip. They had the watch listed at $1800 but was able to haggle it down a bit. I am now worries about the authenticity of the watch. I own a couple rolex and one panerai. I love watches and was certain this was real. I am now concerned…are there any dead give aways on determining authenticity. I expressed my concern and the pawn shop said they would listen to me.

    Back case read CW2118 on the left side / right side LJ8241

    numbered 1563 / 4000

    Thanks for your help

    Juan Antonio R

  • Juan

    I apologize for the horrible grammar. I am freaking out right now and hope I wasn't fooled on this one.

    Thanks again!

  • DC

    No problem Juan- watch looked fine to me.

    David

  • Philmo

    Forgive my lack of experience in things Monaco, but isn't the 2007 black dial Gulf a CW211A?

    My understanding is that the CAW211A is the blue dial 40th Anniversary Cal 11 Monaco.

    Or do I have my underwear twisted?

  • PJS

    Your correct Philmo,

    The Monaco Vintage Gulf reference is CW211A.FC6228 and the Monaco 40th Anniversary reference is CAW211A.EB0026.

    Not sure about your underwear though need to check that yourself lol

    Cheers

    PJS

  • DC

    Thanks Philmo- good spot.

  • john.partridge@btinternet.com

    what is the current value in £ sterling for a cw2118

    • calibre11

      Not sure John- just took a look on eBay and see that someone wants US$6400 for one…that’s very optimistic in my view

      dc

  • Jeff Gower

    I have one of the original Gulf editions and it has CW211A FR4415 on the back… purchased from Mappin and Webb in London in 2007

  • Tim Archer

    Mine is arriving on the morn!!!!!

    • The new Gulf? Would love to see some pics!!

      • Tim Archer

        You bet. It’s this article that I read a while back that primed me for this timepiece.

  • Tim Archer