Face to Face - The Tag Heuer Monaco Sixty-Nine CW9110
The TAG Heuer Monaco Sixty-Nine has, since its launch, represented the perfect synthesis of the concepts behind the brand's DNA: avant-garde and legacy. A dream, to have on your wrist a watch equipped with digital and analogical display (an electronic and a mechanical caliber), which the Monaco Sixty-Nine made a reality more than ten years ago, and one that many brands have often tried to chase, without ever synthesizing these two concepts so successfully.
TAG Heuer has succeeded, and it ideally united, in the early 2000s, two antithetical philosophies in watchmaking: the European and the Rising Sun ones, the last being strongly oriented towards the production of high-precision digital chronographs, even if TAG Heuer has been, for many years, amongst the leading brands of digital chronometry, especially the high-precision sports one.
The basic characteristic that makes the CW9110 reference unique is its dual personality, and it is sometimes difficult to say which is the main quadrant between the two, even if the Monaco was born, and will remain, as analog for life but not necessarily, and this experiment has demonstrated it, it has always been an analog chronograph and a self-winding watch.
The three-hand dial is the recognizable, elegant and in this case hand-wound operated classic Monaco, with the small seconds at 6 o'clock, the applied indexes and the hands of a Monaco, but its authority is stronger than that of a “time-only” black dial Monaco, that is a bit “poor” in terms of technique and design.
The construction of the case and the buttons, two on each side, necessary to manage all the chrono functions, have increased, giving the impression that the Monaco Sixty-Nine is an elaborate version of a classic Monaco Chronograph. The CW9110 is actually the finest Monaco ever made by TAG Heuer, the Twenty-Four excluded, and its case consists of two parts, coupled together, which contain two different calibres: a mechanical and a quartz one.
The inscription "Sixty-Nine" inserted at the base of the case, recalls the launch year of the first watch with a waterproof square case, made famous at the wrist of Steve McQueen. Presented as a concept watch in 2003, the TAG Heuer Monaco Sixty-Nine CW9110 won the Best Design award of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie in Geneva in 2004, and was given the green light to start production at a price of €5.100,00 in Europe.
The normal production version is almost identical to the Concept, and it combines a mechanical movement, the hand-wound and ETA production caliber 2, with a rather advanced quartz one, internally coded as HR03 caliber, equipped with functions such as the stopwatch precise at 1/1000 of a second, like in the Microtimer, the ability to record up to ten different times, and a "black panel" function that allows you to turn off the digital screen, as you could do on a SAAB 9-3 Turbo, by pressing one of the keys on the cash desk. Whoever still has one, or has had the good fortune to drive one, will understand. Ten years after I bought it, it is one of the watches that I treasure the most.
How much is a TAG Heuer Monaco Sixty-Nine worth today? It is an interesting question because this watch, wanted by Babin during his management, did not sell a lot because it has never been advertised much, but if you look at its construction you will understand that it represents a great technical exercise, because it is equipped with an elaborate mechanism to allow the casing to rotate from one side to the other, and to lock into the two positions. We are far from the fluency levels of a Reverso, but the two clocks are very different from each other.
It is impressive, very often, but it has a charm that few watches with a square box can boast and, after many digital clocks, the launch of Autavia and of the new Carrera, I hope it will have a following among the Heritage collections, as it is innovative watches such as this one, that have made TAG Heuer the brand we have always loved, and the Monaco is, from my personal point of view, still far from having fully expressed its full potential, crushed in recent years by the launch of the Connected and other more or less questionable proposals. Will it have a collectible future? I would empirically say that it may have, because it has the charm of a Monaco, but it has such an original philosophy, that makes it eccentric without being extravagant, and in a project of repositioning the brand in a top position, the Sixty-Nine possesses that "Wow effect" that could to feed its complete rebirth.
(Photo credit: Google; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®