In case you somehow missed it, 2019 has been a very big year for watch anniversaries, and one of the absolute biggest has been the 50th anniversary of the Heuer Monaco. What started out as a square-shaped chronograph developed with architects and other creative types in mind went on to become strongly associated with ’70s motorsport and is, to this day, probably the most famous watch ever to appear in film thanks to Steve McQueen and the 1971 racing classic Le Mans.
Over the last 50 years, the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12 has been a mainstay of the Heuer – and later the TAG Heuer – lineup. In its anniversary year, TAG Heuer has paid tribute to the different chapters of the Monaco through models devoted to different decades of Heuer production. The watch that we have today celebrates the final run of Monaco watches featuring the Caliber 12. It’s important to note that when we say Caliber 12 in the modern-watch context, we are not referring to the movement released shortly after the Caliber 11 in the early 1970s. Instead, the Caliber 12 beating under this watch’s smokey, ruthenium finished dial is Sellita-based with a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module.
At first I found it intersting that TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12 would commemorate the Caliber 12 with a 1,000-piece limited edition on the same day that it presents the first 39mm Monaco chronograph with an in-house movement. It marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. (Head here for Jack’s analysis of the new Heuer Monaco 02, which was also released today. It’s the end of an era for the Monaco, which will now, like the Carrera and the Autavia before it, use TAG’s own in-house, column-wheel chronograph caliber.)
While the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12 is arguably the more newsworthy introduction TAG Heuer is making today, the Caliber 12-equipped Monaco was a mainstay of the TAG Heuer lineup. One could spot a modern-day Caliber 12 Monaco versus a Caliber 11 version thanks to the fact that its crown is on the conventional right side of the case in between the chronograph pushers. The modern Caliber 11, like the historical movement its name references, had the crown on the left, a somewhat eccentric style that nonetheless became iconic.
With the release of the Heuer Monaco 02 model, TAG Heuer now has a manufacture-movement equipped Monaco featuring a right-hand crown position. Given the arrival of the Heuer 02 in the Monaco lineup, it seems like excellent timing to retire the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12 with its own fitting 1,000-piece tribute. With the left-handed Monaco remaining such an iconic offering from TAG Heuer, it’s difficult to imagine the Caliber 11 itself being retired from the Monaco.