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TAG Heuer Monaco Review: Steve McQueen, Gulf, Dark Lord

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Tag Heuer Monaco review

TAG Heuer Monaco watches are iconic luxury timepieces known for their innovation, auto-racing history, and cinema ties. They are symbols of precision and trendsetting design, making them the pinnacle of luxury watchmaking. 

These watches are considered excellent investments due to their historical significance, craftsmanship, and brand recognition dating back to 1860. The TAG Heuer Monaco series is prized for its superior quality, attention to detail, and unique square case design inspired by the Monaco Grand Prix and associated with Hollywood star Steve McQueen. 

Notable editions include Steve McQueen, Gulf, Dark Lord, and the limited-edition Purple Dial, each offering its own unique aesthetic and value proposition.

In this review, we will delve into the standout editions: Steve McQueen, Gulf, Dark Lord, and the limited-edition Purple Dial, each boasting its unique aesthetic and value proposition.

Brief History of Tag Heuer Monaco

The TAG Heuer is a high-end sports watch with an intriguing history, which began in 1860 when Edouard Heuer founded the brand at just 20 years old. After establishing itself as a leading name in the watchmaking industry, one of the brand’s collections – the Heuer Monaco became an iconic piece on its own.

Introduced in 1969, the Tag Heuer Monaco watch was groundbreaking in more ways than one. Not only was it the first automatic chronograph, but it also featured the first square water-resistant case, breaking the norm of round watch faces and showcasing TAG Heuer’s avant-garde spirit.

The name “Monaco” was inspired by the Monaco Grand Prix, embodying the excitement, precision, and glamour of the world of auto racing. The watch’s distinctive square case design caught the attention of many, especially the famous actor Steve McQueen. In the 1971 film, “Le Mans,” McQueen donned the Heuer Monaco and solidified its legendary status. This particular edition is often referred to as the Steve McQueen Monaco.

In the years since, Tag Heuer has released various iterations and special editions of the Monaco collection. Another notable version of the Monaco is the Gulf edition, which pays homage to TAG Heuer’s racing history, and especially its connection to Jo Siffert and Steve McQueen. The Gulf Monaco features a familiar design with iconic blue and orange racing stripes.

The Dark Lord is yet another unique iteration of the Monaco. This model distinguishes itself from the others due to its black PVD-coated case. This aesthetic differentiates the Dark Lord from the more conventional stainless steel case found in other Monaco watches.

The Purple Dial edition, on the other hand, showcases TAG Heuer’s commitment to continually pushing boundaries in design and aesthetics. Despite these different variations, all Monaco models uphold the legacy of innovative design, technical prowess, and connection to the racing heritage that has characterized the series since its inception.

The Case

When examining the TAG Heuer Monaco, particularly the Steve McQueen, Gulf, Dark Lord, and Purple Dial editions, you’ll notice that the case is one of the most distinctive features of these timepieces. The square case is instantly recognizable and has become an iconic symbol of the TAG Heuer Monaco series.

Tag Heuer Monaco Steve Mcqueen case

The Steve McQueen edition, for instance, pays tribute to the legendary actor known as the “King of Cool” and features a bold square case that stands out from the classic round designs typically found in other watches. This timepiece boasts a blue dial with red and white accents, reflecting the colors of McQueen’s racing suit in the movie “Le Mans”.

Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf case

Exploring the Gulf edition, you’ll find that it shares the distinguishing square case with Steve McQueen’s model, but with a twist: it showcases the striking Gulf Oil Porsche 911 colors of blue and orange, as well as the Gulf logo on the dial. This is a nod to McQueen’s Gulf Oil Porsche 911 in the film “Le Mans”.

Tag Heuer Monaco Dark Lord case

Moving on to the Dark Lord Monaco, this highly sought-after watch is known for its distinct all-black PVD coating on the stainless steel case. The bold appearance lends it a mysterious and sleek look, appealing to collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Tag Heuer Monaco Limited Edition case

Finally, the TAG Heuer Monaco Purple Dial version brings a unique touch to the square case design, featuring an eye-catching purple dial that adds a layer of sophistication to the watch. It’s a rare find among the Monaco series and serves as a reminder of the brand’s willingness to experiment with colors and designs, especially with modern Monaco timepieces.

Throughout the various editions of the TAG Heuer Monaco, the case remains a constant factor that sets these watches apart from others on the market. The iconic square design not only invokes a sense of style but also serves as a testament to the brand’s dedication to innovation.

The Dial

The dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco is truly a work of art that reflects its rich history and association with the legendary Steve McQueen. When you look at the Monaco, you’ll notice its unique square design, which sets it apart from other watches. The most well-known version features a striking blue dial, reminiscent of Steve McQueen’s eyes.

Tag Heuer Monaco Steve Mcqueen dial

Its blue sunburst dial, adorned with two square counters at 3 and 9 o’clock for the Monaco chronograph minutes and running seconds respectively, remains true to the original design. White minute and hour hands with red-tipped chrono seconds hands, along with horizontal hour indices, add to the vintage appeal. The date window, discreetly placed at 6 o’clock, completes the dial.

Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf dial

The Gulf edition of the Monaco pays homage to the iconic racing colors of the Gulf Oil company, with its blue dial accented by bold orange and light blue stripes. The deep navy blue dial is striped with light blue and orange, signifying the Gulf racing livery. The two white square sub-dials for the chronograph and seconds add contrast and improve readability. It’s a celebration of racing heritage encapsulated in a dial.

Tag Heuer Monaco Dark Lord dial

For those who prefer a darker, more mysterious look, the Dark Lord variant offers a black PVD-coated case and a black dial. Red accents on the dial’s hands and indices add a splash of color and maintain legibility, lending the watch its daring yet refined appearance. This elusive version is highly sought after by collectors due to its rarity and distinctive appearance.

Tag Heuer Monaco Limited Edition dial

Another interesting take on the Monaco is the Purple Dial edition. This limited-edition watch features a radiant purple sunray-brushed dial, a bold deviation from the traditional blue. Its striking hue is a testament to TAG Heuer’s willingness to push boundaries and redefine luxury aesthetics. With the same layout as the other Monaco models, including the twin sub-dials and the date window at 6 o’clock, the Purple Dial edition brings a fresh burst of color to the iconic series.

As you examine the dials of different TAG Heuer Monaco variants, you’ll appreciate the attention to detail and the level of craftsmanship that goes into each timepiece. Each version is a testament to the brand’s commitment to producing watches with both impeccable design and performance.

The Strap/Bracelet

Tag Heuer Monaco Steve Mcqueen strap

When it comes to the TAG Heuer Monaco, you’ll find that the straps and bracelets are quite exceptional. The iconic Steve McQueen model, for instance, features a soft calfskin leather strap that complements its stunning blue dial source. On the other hand, the Gulf and Dark Lord versions of the Monaco offer slightly different strap options, each designed to enhance the unique aesthetics of these timepieces.

Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf strap

In the case of the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf edition, the strap pays homage to the vintage racing colors of blue, orange, and white. In keeping with its racing-inspired design, the Gulf Special Edition features a blue calfskin strap with orange stitching, matching the dial’s color scheme. It provides comfortable wear and a unique aesthetic. Like the Steve McQueen edition, it also has a stainless steel folding clasp for secure fastening.

This unique color scheme not only represents the classic Gulf racing livery but also adds a touch of bold character to the timepiece.

Tag Heuer Monaco Dark Lord strap

As for the Dark Lord edition, its distinctive all-black look is made complete with a black leather strap that perfectly captures the essence of its name and design inspiration. The strap has matching black stitching, which complements the watch’s stealthy aesthetics. The stainless steel clasp, also PVD-coated black, provides a cohesive look and secure wear.

Tag Heuer Monaco Limited Edition strap

Lastly, the Purple Dial edition is paired with a luxurious black alligator leather strap with purple on the back, mirroring the dial’s daring color. This striking strap ensures comfort without sacrificing the watch’s bold statement. The stainless steel folding clasp secures the watch and completes the distinctive look.

To conclude, the TAG Heuer Monaco collection offers an impressive variety of straps and bracelets to suit the individual tastes of watch enthusiasts. Whether you prefer the classic Steve McQueen leather strap or the intriguing purple dial, you’re sure to find a TAG Heuer Monaco that perfectly complements your style.

The Movement

In your exploration of the TAG Heuer Monaco, you’ll come across different editions with unique characteristics, including the Steve McQueen, Gulf, and Dark Lord models. These watches have captivated enthusiasts with their history, design, and performance while offering a sense of nostalgia and connection to iconic figures and events in time.

The Steve McQueen Monaco is undeniably one of the most recognizable models from the TAG Heuer Monaco family. This model was made famous by the actor’s use of it during the filming of the movie “Le Mans” in the 1970s. Powered by the renowned Calibre 11 automatic movement. This automatic movement, known for its precision and reliability, pays tribute to the original Monaco, which was one of the earliest watches to use the Calibre 11. With a power reserve of approximately 40 hours, it ensures that the watch is as reliable as it is iconic.

Tag Heuer Monaco Gulf Movement

Like the Steve McQueen, the Gulf Special Edition also uses the Calibre 11 movement. Its power reserve of around 80 hours provides ample autonomy. The decorated movement can be viewed through the sapphire crystal case back, adding another layer of interest to this special edition.

Tag Heuer Monaco Dark Lord movement

Another notable Monaco is the Dark Lord, which boasts a Calibre 12 automatic movement. It offers an improved power reserve of approximately 80 hours. Despite the modern upgrade, the movement still stays true to the original design with its left-sided crown and right-sided pushers layout.

Tag Heuer Monaco Limited Edition movement

Lastly, the TAG Heuer Monaco Purple Dial houses the Calibre 11 automatic movement. With a power reserve of 80 hours and the date and chronograph functions, it encapsulates the reliable functionality that Monaco watches are known for. The sapphire crystal case back allows an insightful look at the beautifully crafted movement.

When examining the movement of each TAG Heuer Monaco watch edition, it’s evident that these square watches share a common thread: a reliable and accurate automatic movement. Whether you’re drawn to the iconic Steve McQueen, the racing-inspired Gulf, or the striking Dark Lord, each Monaco model ensures a professional and reliable performance perfect for any discerning watch collector.

Competitive Landscape

  • Rolex Daytona: When considering the TAG Heuer Monaco, it is worth looking at the Rolex Daytona as a comparable timepiece. This renowned chronograph is known for its accuracy and durability – two features you’ll appreciate in a high-performance watch. Its classic design and prestigious reputation may captivate you, but keep in mind that the price point is typically higher than the Monaco.
  • Omega Speedmaster Professional: This iconic timepiece is known for its role in space missions – a testament to its reliability and accuracy. Its timeless design combined with its chronograph and tachymeter functionality may be the perfect blend of functionality and style for your wrist.
  • Breitling Navitimer: When exploring the competitive landscape, don’t forget to check out the Breitling Navitimer, a pilot’s watch featuring a slide-rule bezel for various in-flight calculations. Its aviation-inspired functions, combined with a distinctive design, might make it an appealing alternative to the Monaco, especially if you have a penchant for aviation history and technology.
  • IWC Portugieser Chronograph: This watch boasts precision engineering and elegant design, with its signature leaf-shaped hands and applied Arabic numerals. If you value understated elegance in your timepiece, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph could be an attractive choice.
ModelBest Known ForPre-owned Price
Rolex DaytonaKnown for its accuracy and durabilityS$25,726 – S$303,949
Omega Speedmaster ProfessionalIconic for its role in space missions, showcasing its reliability and accuracy.S$6,150
Breitling NavitimerA quintessential pilot’s watch, featuring a slide-rule bezel for various in-flight calculations.S$1,362 – S$19,932
IWC Portugieser ChronographRecognized for its precision engineering and an elegant design.S$6,006 

Why You Should Invest

The TAG Heuer Monaco collection’s timepieces command prices ranging from S$1,906 to S$14,584 on the private sales market, showcasing the range’s diverse appeal and value. Among these, the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Steve McQueen Ref. CAW211P stands out as the most popular model, fetching a price of S$6,749 in the private sales market.

Other notable models such as the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition (CBL2115), TAG Heuer Monaco Dark Lord (CBL2180), and TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre Heuer 02 Purple Dial (CBL2118) are traded at S$7,393, S$3732.92, and S$10,833 respectively.

Investing in a TAG Heuer Monaco watch can be a savvy move for a number of reasons. First, the TAG Heuer brand is synonymous with quality and craftsmanship, which ensures that these timepieces hold their value over time. Additionally, specific models, such as the Steve McQueen edition, have historical and cultural significance that can make them even more valuable to collectors. Finally, limited edition models like the Gulf Special Edition or Purple Dial, due to their rarity, often appreciate over time, making them potentially lucrative investments.

Final Word

The TAG Heuer Monaco series, with the Steve McQueen, Gulf, and Dark Lord editions, beautifully blends horological history, technical prowess, and stylish aesthetics. These watches are not just timekeepers but stories of the past, present, and future, each unique in its way. From the track to the wrist, they embody TAG Heuer’s relentless pursuit of innovation and commitment to excellence, reinforcing the brand’s place in the annals of luxury watchmaking.

Key Takeaways

  • Each model in the TAG Heuer Monaco series – Steve McQueen, Gulf, and Dark Lord, boasts an iconic square design and various color schemes, making them visually striking, and adding to their value as luxury timepieces.
  • All three models are powered by either the Calibre Heuer 11 or Calibre 12 automatic movements, both known for their precision and reliability.
  • TAG Heuer watches, especially these Monaco special editions, hold their value well over time due to their historical significance and limited availability.

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