1969 must’ve been a great year for chronographs. It was the year that a chronograph went to the moon and back. It was the year when the first automatic chronograph movement was announced. Though, as to which brand or consortium was the first to make the announcement, remains debatable. However, we can say for certain that the other standout chronograph from 1969 has to be the now iconic, square chronograph we know simply as, the Monaco.
A square, angular, shaped wrist watch the likes of the Monaco had never been seen prior to its introduction. Add to this the fact that the case was made such that the chronograph was water-resistant and that it housed the revolutionary new self-winding Calibre 11. Calibre 11 is what Heuer (TAG was not yet part of the company name at the time) called the movement, but it might be better known to some as the Chronomatic, which was the self-winding chronograph that came from the consortium formed by Breitling, Buren, Hamilton, Heuer and Dubois-Depraz.
We all know that Monaco rose to fame as Steve McQueen’s watch featured in the 1971 movie “Le Mans”. But this fact was preceded by another fortunate decision by the visionary Jack Heuer. Around the launch of Heuer watches with the Calibre 11, Jack established a commercial deal with his friend and Formula 1 driver Jo Siffert, a fan of Heuer watches and the brand’s first ambassador.
In 1970, Siffert served as production support for “Le Mans”, where he met McQueen, who was inspired to play the role of Michael Delaney, thanks to Sifferet himself. For the film, instead of using an Autavia, which was usually worn by Siffert, McQueen chose the Monaco 1133B for its unique and unconventional appearance. It was arguably one of the most critical decisions in the history of watch marketing.
In recent years, the legacy of the original Monaco Calibre 11 has been represented by the base reference CAW211x. In 2009, on the occasion of the watch’s 40th anniversary, TAG Heuer introduced the CAW211A. Limited to 1,000 pieces, the brand presented this special edition in the “McQueen” color scheme —blue dial with white subdials— a 38 mm case, the crown on the left side, and chronograph pushers on the right. The dial offered the classic horizontal indexes but the pushers became rectangular instead of round as seen in the original Monaco. The caseback had a unique decoration with Jack Heuer’s signature and the edition number. Hidden under this decoration was the in-house Calibre 11, a modular movement based on the Sellita SW300 and a Dubois-Dépraz module. This was a nice coincidence that echoes the original Calibre 11 and its chronograph module, a Dubois-Dépraz as well.
The general formula for the reissued Monaco Calibre 11 from 2009 has remained the same to this day. Only the colour variations in dials, cases and transparent casebacks have been the most important differentiating features from the 2009 ‘A’ model. This includes the 50th anniversary special editions from 2019.
The references CAW211B and C are very good examples of the evolution of the TAG Heuer Monaco’s Calibre 11 features. The TAG Heuer Monaco Vintage Chronograph CAW211B (2020) is a nice reinterpretation of the ref. 1133G from 1972. The 211B is just like the Monaco chronographs with which the brand commemorated the 50th anniversary of the watch in 2019. This implies that the size is already 39 mm. Very relevant, this vintage-inspired Monaco has the same horizontal hour indexes that were seen in the original 1969 Monaco and the 2009 reissue.
The Ref CAW211B is a grey version of the 40th Anniversary Monaco released in 2009. The watch’s case is finished in a subtle charcoal stainless steel and it is quite similar to the original design from the 1960s. It is powered by Calibre 11, an ETA 2892/2 base with a Dubois Depraz Chronograph module. The movement can be admired from the transparent caseback that gives a peek into the rotor with the traditional Cotes de Geneve finishing as well as the red Heuer shield. The present example of the watch at our shop is from 2012 and it comes with its original set of box and papers.
Characterised by a sculpted black dial with three counters, the ref CS2111 was produced in 5,000 units in 1999. We have an example of this watch in our shop and it is offered with its original set of box and papers and also a two-year warranty from Watchfinder.
TAG Heuer has another interesting model in the Monaco heritage series in a 39mm steel case. Powered by Calibre 11 movement (with the crown on the left-hand-side of the case), the ref. CAW211D is based on the original Steve McQueen Monaco from the 1970s. The present example in our shop is offered with its original set of box and papers and a two-year warranty from Watchfinder.