As an icon, the TAG Heuer Monaco is the perennial must-have in the company’s catalog, interpreted in a parade of colors (lots of racing red), case materials (notably edgy black versions), strap configurations, and fun collaborations, most notably the Gulf, with its striking orange and black tones. The common thread, aside from the square case, pushers and subdials, and the often perforated strap, is that the Monaco has been reliably bold and racy, with an edgy character befitting a watch named for one of F1’s most famous races, the Monaco Grand Prix.
The new Monaco Chronograph Racing Blue Limited Edition is, likewise, a showstopper made to standout on the wrist in a cobalt blue strap to match the subdials contrasted by pops of yellow in the seconds counter and the 12 o’clock marker. This particular shade of blue really pops and is just the sort of thing to wear for an August sojourn in the south of France. The blue highlights call to mind the cool glow of Steve McQueen’s eyes, the actor who put the Monaco on the map by choosing to wear it in the 1971 film “Le Mans.” But that’s not why TAG chose the color. It’s a version of French racing blue, or Bleu de France as it was formally called back in the 1960s when racing cars were color-coded by their national colors. There was British racing green, Italian red, U.S. white with blue lengthwise stripes, and so on. The tone of French racing blue varied slightly over the years from light turquoise to azure blue and was notably used on various famous racing cars, including Galbot-Lago, Delage, and Bugatti.
The bright lime accents are a surprise but work nicely with the blue. A typical red chronograph seconds might have been too strong for the subtlety of the cool color, which seems just the right note for Monaco’s vibe of genteel glamour. The index plots and hour/minute hands glow with matching blue Super-LumiNova. The case is grade 2 titanium, which keeps it light, although it’s already a very wearable 39 mm x 14.3 mm. The titanium does set it apart as a limited edition, separate from the steel versions. It is powered by the TAG Heuer automatic caliber 11, which has a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module. The movement is a nod to the original automatic chronograph movement that TAG had a hand in developing: In 1969, Heuer partnered with Breitling, Hamilton-Büren, and Dubois-Depraz in “Project 99” to produce the world’s first automatic chronograph, called caliber 11, which for TAG, debuted in the Monaco.
TAG will make 1,000 of the new limited-edition Monaco priced at $9,200 each.