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Up Close- TAG Heuer x The Hour Glass Monaco PVD Calibre 11 (Ref. CAW211U)

While the 50th Anniversary of the Monaco saw five special edition Monaco Calibre 11 Chronographs released, there was a sixth limited edition Calibre 11 Monaco that grabbed the attention of collectors- a special edition of 50 watches to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of The Hour Glass, the Singapore-based watch retailer.

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The Hour Glass Monaco is yet another “almost” attempt to recreate the white whale of the vintage Heuer world, the famous black Heuer Monaco 740303N. Just like the French Edition from 2017, this Monaco replaces the usual applied steel markers with lume stick markers and features a titanium-carbide coated steel case- just like the 1970s PVD Monaco.

It’s a fascinating product choice from TAG Heuer that we’ve never seen a true re-edition of the PVD Monaco, even as they continue to launch commemorative watches that get close to replicating the look of the 740303N, but never close enough to be described as a re-edition. Maybe one day.

Design

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Despite being launched alongside five “official” limited editions watches, the Hour Glass edition manages to stand out from the LE pack, despite relying on the same basic case, hands and movement. The clever use of colours and details on the dial is what makes this one different.

Dial

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The boldest choice made for this watch is the colour of the dial- a lovely colour that veers between “champagne”, beige and off-white, depending on the light. While there has never been a historic Monaco model with this dial colour, the colours work well together, especially when contrasted to the all-black case.

The contrasting colours are red and black- bright red for the strip hour markers (a red SuperLuminova), central Chronograph hands and lacquered sub-dial hands, and black for the minuterie scale and text. We also like the use of black on the steel hands, with black on the tips and a filled-in black on the lower half of the hands, below the white lume.

The second brave choice was the modern, over-sized applied “12” at the 12 o’clock position, a feature we often see on modern TAG Heuer watches, but rarely on vintage models. And result? Looks great to our eyes.

Overall, the dial is a big success style-wise. If you wrote these ingredients down on a piece of paper, we would have been very nervous about the outcome, but the finished product not works very well, but manages to do this without looking like any other Monaco limited edition, an important consideration for would-be collectors.

Case

We haven’t seen a black case Monaco for a few years- not since the ACM Monaco from 2012. The challenge for TAG Heuer’s engineers has always been ensuring that the titanium carbide coating doesn’t wear excessively on the sharp-edges of the Monaco case, an issue that we assume has been addressed with this watch given the technological developments around blackened watches.

The black coating is applied on top of a 39mm steel case, and unlike the ACM Monaco edition, the pushers and crown here have also been coated in black titanium carbide.

Caseback and Movement

Flip the watch over and you’ll see a sapphire caseback, with the silver metal of the rotor and movement standing out prominently against the polished black case. There’s a subtle red Heuer logo on the rotor- an understated choice that we like, with Hour Glass branding kept to a tasteful minimum.

The Future of the Calibre 11 Movement

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The 50th Anniversary of the Monaco in 2019 marked the end of one era and the beginning of another- out went the Calibre 12 movement, which has powered the mainstream Monaco line for the last decade, and in came the in-house Heuer-02 movement. But what does the end of the Calibre 12 movement mean for the future of the closely related Calibre 11?

The first versions of the Calibre 11 and 12 movements used an ETA 2892-A2 base movement, a calibre also known as TAG Heuer’s Calibre 7, which is a three-hand watch movement. A chronograph module is then added on top of the base, a Dubois-Depraz 2008 in the case of the Calibre 12 and a Dubois-Depraz 2002 in the case of the Calibre 11. The only real difference between the Calibre 11 and 12 is the placement of the crown- just like the original 1969 Monaco, the Calibre 11 has the crown on the left-hand side of the case, while the Calibre 12 has the crown on the traditional right-hand side of the case.

Over the years, the Calibre 11/ 12 was switched from an ETA base to a clone Sellita SW300 base. As former CEO Jean-Christophe Babin told us in back in 2011:

“Initially those Calibres [11 and 12] started out with an ETA base, but we have homologated with Dubois Depraz the same construction, but with a Sellita base, conscious that sooner or later we would not have enough supply from ETA”

Jean-Christophe Babin

Since its introduction with the first Autavia re-edition in 2003, the Calibre 11 movement has been used across four TAG Heuer models, and apart from the first Autavia, always with the heritage “Heuer” logo. You’ll find Calibre 11 movements across the following watches:

  • 2003-2005: Autavia
  • 2009- Present: Monaco
  • 2010: Silverstone
  • 2018: Carrera
2004 TAG Heuer Autavia Gold Chronometer Calibre 11
2004 Autavia CY5140- The only ever 3-register Calibre 11

The good news is that despite the Calibre 12 movement being discontinued, the Calibre 11 movement will continue in the Monaco range alongside the Heuer-02. The Calibre 11 may be a small-volume movement, but it’s an important one that ties back to TAG Heuer’s heritage as the pioneer of automatic chronograph movements.

Price and Availability

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The 50 pieces of the Monaco Hour Glass Calibre 11 were priced at S$9,000 (Singapore), which is about US$6,500. We say “were”, because all 50 watches have been sold, although we have seen a couple pop-up on the second-hand market.

Anyone in the market for a special edition Monaco should definitely check out the Hour Glass edition. It is a more “love it or hate it” choice than the standard blue Monaco, but the more we see it, the more we like it.


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