The Monaco is one of the most successful models from Swiss manufacturer TAG Heuer. American actor and race car driver Steve McQueen is partially responsible for this watch’s popularity. He wore a Monaco in the 1971 cult classic Le Mans, propelling the timepiece to legendary status. The model’s characteristic features include a square case, blue reverse panda dial, and horizontal line indices.
About the TAG Heuer Monaco
The Principality of Monaco has hosted the Monaco Grand Prix since 1929. This prestigious car race is held each year at the Circuit de Monaco. The Heuer company – at the time without TAG in its name – became the racetrack’s official timekeeper in the 1960s. Thus, the name Monaco was a logical choice for the brand’s then-new chronograph released in 1969.
A new piece of technology also debuted alongside the Monaco: the Calibre 11 or Chronomatic. This movement made history as one of the first automatic chronograph calibers. It is the result of Heuer’s cooperation with Büren, Hamilton, Breitling, and Dubois-Dépraz, and its most notable feature is the crown’s location at 9 o’clock. The Monaco’s design remained largely unchanged until the mid-1970s when the manufacturer introduced a manual caliber to the collection, as well as some minor dial changes.
The Monaco was far from a mainstream choice during its first decade on the market, as evidenced by its poor initial sales figures. However, it would eventually attain cult status. In the 1990s, TAG Heuer reintroduced the model to their line-up. This time, the watch came with the Calibre 12 based on the ETA 2894-2. This gave it a right-sided crown placed between the push-pieces. The new version also boasted a more reserved solid black dial.
The early 2000s marked the dawn of a new era for the Monaco. TAG Heuer revived the watch’s original design from 1969 and has since introduced a wide range of different models. These include several special editions in celebration of the chronograph’s 40th and 50th anniversaries. In 2019, the manufacturer released five limited-edition models – one for each decade since the original’s debut.
Important Monaco References
The most popular Monaco on Chrono24 is the ref. CAW211P.FC6356 with Calibre 11. TAG first introduced this watch in 2015, and it remains the entry-level version of the model to this day. The timepiece’s design mostly follows that of the original from 1969. Some shared characteristics include the blue dial, horizontal indices, and left-sided crown. The watch measures 39 mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). The Calibre 11 is based on the Sellita SW300 and features a chronograph module from Dubois Dépraz – much like the original. The movement boasts a 40-hour power reserve and is chronometer-certified. Both the face and case back are outfitted with sapphire crystal, affording a clear view of the movement at work.
Monaco Gulf Ref. CAW211R.FC6401
The second most popular Monaco on Chrono24 is the Gulf special edition that TAG announced at Baselworld 2018. Gulf Oil was an American oil company that made racing history by sponsoring the GT class and McLaren. The watch’s blue and orange dial takes its color scheme from the company logo and is also reminiscent of the Porsche 917 that Steven McQueen raced in Le Mans. This version likewise measures 39 mm across and features sapphire crystal on both sides. At the heart of the watch beats the Sellita-based Calibre 11.
The Monaco Calibre 12
The Calibre 12 premiered in 2002 and is a favorite among Monaco fans. This watch marked the return to the model’s original color scheme from 1969 and featured very subtle changes to the dial. The timepiece has the traditional horizontal line indices in all positions except for 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. The right-sided crown located between the two rectangular push-pieces is yet another change from the Calibre 11. All of these alterations give the chronograph a slightly more elegant overall look, bringing it into modern times without neglecting its origins. The chronometer-certified Calibre 12 movement is a modified version of the Sellita SW300.
Monaco With the In-House Heuer 02
TAG Heuer has been offering the Monaco with the in-house Heuer 02 movement since 2019. You’ll also find this caliber ticking away in Autavia models. The column-wheel chronograph movement boasts vertical coupling, which guarantees a high level of precision and functionality with reduced friction. The Heuer 02 has an impressive power reserve of 80 hours.
An example of a Monaco powered by this movement is the ref. CBL2113.BA0644 on a stainless steel bracelet. The reverse panda dial (black dial, white subdials) features applied baton indices, and the chronograph seconds hand and subdial and at 3 and 9 o’clock stand out in red. The date display sits at 6 o’clock, and the small seconds is directly above it. Other versions of the Monaco powered by the Heuer 02 are available with gray or blue dials and white subdials.
TAG Heuer has limited the eye-catching ref. CBL2114.FC6486 to a run of just 1,000 pieces. This watch celebrates the company’s partnership with the GPHM (Grand Prix Historique de Monaco). Unfortunately, the organizers had to cancel the 12th edition of this event, which had been due to take place in May 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The special edition watch made its debut on December 18, 2020, nonetheless. The watch stands out with its silver and red color scheme and sunburst dial. The GPHM logo occupies the 1 o’clock position.
Vintage Monaco Models and Alternatives
If you’re looking for a vintage Monaco produced between 1969 and 1979, be prepared for quite a search. The original McQueen version is very popular but quite rare due to its relatively short production run. One of the original watches that McQueen supposedly wore in Le Mans sold for more than $2 million in December 2020.
Not all Monaco models will set you back that much, however. In 2009, TAG Heuer introduced a special-edition watch in honor of the model’s 40th birthday. It has all the key characteristics of the very first version: a blue dial, white subdials, red accents, horizontal indices, and a left-sided crown (made possible by the Calibre 11). A great alternative to this special edition model is the ref. CAW211P.FC6356 mentioned above. It has been part of the Monaco collection since 2015.
Price and Performance
The Monaco has good value retention generally speaking, though it isn’t the same for every variant. Don’t expect the major demand or price gouging that you sometimes find with models from certain other manufacturers – unless it’s a watch worn by Steve McQueen, that is. Speaking of the famous actor, the Calibre 12 Steve McQueen from 2002 has performed well. Average prices for this watch have steadily increased from roughly $3,400 to $4,900 over the past decade.
Chrono24’s bestselling Calibre 11 ref. CAW211P.FC6356 has also appreciated in recent years. While a watch in new condition cost roughly $4,500 in 2016, you can now expect prices closer to $5,200.
Limited-edition models have historically performed quite well. With just 169 copies of each watch, the five anniversary models from 2019 are rare finds on the market today. The official list price for each variant was just over $7,000, but you should expect to pay at least $9,700 to get your hands on one now.
If you want to buy an unworn watch from the current TAG collection, you can likely save quite a bit of money by purchasing on Chrono24. For example, the Heuer 02 ref. CBL2113.FC6177 with a black dial and leather strap has an official list price of $6,350, but you can find it on our marketplace for around $5,700. The version with a blue dial is even more affordable on Chrono24, with prices around $5,200.
The Monaco Gulf has only been on the market for about two years. Its official list price is $6,550; however, it currently sells for around $5,350 on Chrono24. While this doesn’t suggest stellar performance at the moment, things may well change in the future. In the meantime, at least it’s a beautiful watch to behold.