One thing that we’ve learnt about the top quality fake TAG Heuer Monaco over the years is that each year we can expect a number of limited edition models to complement the classic blue-dial “McQueen” model that is the mainstay of the Monaco range. Last year was a banner year for these limited editions, with five Calibre 11 models and a single Calibre 12 chronograph and now in 2020 we have the first limited edition Monaco since the range was relaunched with the Heuer 02 movement: The Grand Prix de Monaco Historique edition.
While the name may be something of a mouthful, the story behind the watch is quite simple, in that it’s an extension of the relationship between TAG Heuer and the Automobile Club de Monaco, the organising body of the Monaco Grand Prix and the retro-themed Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
The Monaco Historique edition was launched back in May, but now we’ve had the chance to get our hands on the bold, red and silver Monaco LE for a hands-on-review and a few days of wrist-time.
If you’ve read our review of the blue “McQueen” Monaco Heuer 02, then you’ll know that the copy TAG Heuer Monaco case has been tweaked to accommodate the inhouse Heuer 02 movement. While the Heuer 02 Monaco is thicker than the Calibre 11 50th Anniversary Monaco range (15.3mm vs. 14.4mm), it does weigh in slightly less- 101g vs. 105g.
Putting the scales and tape to one side, we remain a big fan of the Monaco case, which these photos shown well. The Monaco of today is a three-piece case- an upper bezel, the mid case and the caseback. The mid section of the case is the most interesting, with its brushed stainless steel sides and polished upper section where it meets the (brushed) bezel. These polished surfaces extend to the lugs, and it’s the interplay between these different surface finishes that give the Monaco its truly special feel. OK, it’s different because it’s a square copy watch, but it’s the thoughtfulness of how these elements are all combined that makes it stand out. There really is nothing else like it from other watch brands.
The last element worth mentioning is the raised sapphire crystal. When this first became a feature of the Monaco back in 2009, there were some purists who preferred the “warm” look of the plexi crystal- the same plastic material used on the 1970s original. The plexi was less prominent that the sapphire crystal, giving the watch a flatter profile. But we are unabashed fans of the sapphire, irrespective of the original. Not only is sapphire crystal scratch resistant (and the old plexis do scratch easily), but we think that the sapphire looks better…much better.
LEATHER STRAP- FC6486
There’s a single strap option for the Monaco Historique- reference FC6486. At first this looks similar to the black strap fitted to the second of the 50th Anniversary Monaco editions, but that has large centre holes and a red lining. There is a folding “TAG Heuer” clasp, the same as fitted to the McQueen 02.
We’ve left the dial to last, because this is where the real story is on this limited edition Monaco. Yes, this is a limited edition watch with its own bespoke box, but the selling point of this watch is unquestionably its dial. And this is not a dial design that you would have seen a couple of years ago.
Over the last decade, limited edition Monacos have typically either been solid dial colours with stripes (for example, the Gulf Monaco series and several of the boutique editions), or heritage-themed dials. Heading into 2019, everyone expected that TAG Heuer would follow this pattern with the dials of the 50th Anniversary collection- but copy TAG Heuer did nothing of the sort.
Instead, the designers went in an entirely new direction, with metallic red, concrete grey and new patterns offered. The Monaco Historique clearly comes from the same design thinking- while the design looks retro, there is no similar Monaco in the Heuer back catalogue.