TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 ‘McQueen’ Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 ‘McQueen’ Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

Since its debut in 1969 with the (then non-TAG) Heuer Monaco 1133B, the Monaco has enjoyed countless iterations from re-editions and tribute pieces, all the way to belt-driven, tourbillon-equipped high-tech versions like the V4 (hands-on here). What we are looking at today is the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 "McQueen" Reference CAW211P, which is interesting for a number of reasons: a) it's a handsome Monaco in blue, b) it promises to be a worthy re-edition of the original, and c) the price is in line with TAG Heuer's recent (and indeed very welcome) more competitive pricing strategy.

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

Fans of TAG Heuer or the Monaco (or, in fact, both) will surely be familiar with the history of this famed square-shaped chronograph – one among only a handful of square dialed watches that managed to catch on. A little refreshing of our memory certainly won't hurt, though, so let us begin by doing just that.

It was on the 3rd of March, 1969, that Heuer launched what was the first square, water-resistant automatic chronograph – but there was another "big first" to bear in mind: the original Heuer Monaco 1133B was powered by the Chronomatic Calibre 11, which was the first automatic chronograph movement ever offered for sale in the history of watchmaking. Those account for two major premiers and breakthroughs all in just one watch – no wonder, then, that part of the Monaco's everlasting charm is in part fueled by these accomplishments.

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

In what is a fascinating example of how history repeats itself, what played a major role in making the Monaco the globally recognized watch icon as we know it today was Heuer's move to appoint a... you guessed it: brand ambassador. In 1970, Jo Siffert became the first racing driver to be sponsored by a watch brand, and it was with Siffert that the Monaco found its way to the race tracks – and hence into the spotlight.

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

A year later, Steve McQueen (pictured a bit further above) "insisted on wearing" the Monaco during filming for Le Mans in 1971, which propelled the Monaco from the race track to, well, the race track, but pictured on the big screen. It is no news that brand ambassadors and sponsorships were powerful and effective marketing tools in the '70s (and before) – it is still fun to see, though, how that applies to watches and watchmaking.

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

Over the years, starting in 2003, TAG Heuer created a number of tribute pieces to the original 1133B, but other than a 1,000-piece limited run in 2009 for the 40th anniversary of the Monaco, it always – arguably on purpose – avoided debuting something for the masses that was as close as possible to the real deal, the original... until now.

At Baselworld 2015, TAG Heuer quietly launched what we are looking at today, the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Reference CAW211P, and other than few truly very minor differences, it allows Heuer Monaco fans to get a taste of owning the original – at around half the price of what that 1,000-piece limited edition cost before selling out like hot cakes in 2009.

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

Crown on the left, as on the original: tick. Red-filled hour and minute hands, horizontal indices, and red five-minute markers on the dial: all there. "Calibre 11" in the name: tick. Calibre 11 inside? Nope – that, for obvious reasons, couldn't happen. What clearly is the biggest difference between the original and the 2015 model is the movement inside: on what is more than likely an ETA-replacement Sellita automatic base, a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module is responsible for the stopwatch function as well as the dual sub-dial layout of the dial on the 2015 TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11.

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

Having been (considered by many) the first automatic chronograph movement ever, TAG Heuer's Calibre 11 movement from 1969 is among the few truly noteworthy and important movements that every watch enthusiast should know at least a little bit about... and that is why it is rather confusing why TAG Heuer decided to name a modern movement Calibre 11 – although it is considerably different to the original in more than a few ways – and also to title a modern timepiece "Calibre 11." Frankly, while tributes and re-editions do great work at keeping traditions and icons well and alive decades after their inception, there is a fine line between paying tribute and causing confusion.

TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 'McQueen' Watch Hands-On: A Worthy Re-Edition Hands-On

The movement is rather exquisitely decorated – as always at this price point and with comparable calibers, the decoration is nice but, of course, you will find no hand-bevelled edges or other haute horlogerie witchcraft. TAG Heuer decided to go with a sapphire crystal case back – a most welcome change from previous editions' (and the original's) solid steel case back. The movement is without a shadow of a doubt nice enough to justify such a deflection from the original – I presume even purists will have to agree.

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (28)
  • I want it! (24)
  • Classy (9)
  • I love it! (9)
  • Interesting (4)
  • Thanks for the detailed break-down of what’s the same and different from the original David. While not cheap, the price does not seem out of line at all. Such a distinctive watch that has stood the test of time (like it or hate it). It’s one of those few iconic watches that has a life of its own apart from any objective evaluation of its design. It’s odd that such an artsy case and dial has become so deeply associated with motor racing. Heuer was smart to align with Jo Siffert (one of the few Swiss F1 pilots) and of course Steve McQueen and the movie Le Mans. If I was Walter White, I would not have left it on a pay phone.

    • Astronuts

      …I’m not sure which dial I would like better. The horizontal indicies stand out strongly, and the left crown is a must, but Jesse Pinkman didn’t have a choice at the local watch dealer.

      • Honestly, I prefer the radial over the horizontal hour makers.

    • I cried when he left it there

  • HectorAsuipe

    That is pretty sharp. I’ve been a Monaco admirer for a long time and this one gives me renewed faith in TAG Heuer’s ability to make the watch “real.” The MSRP is a bit high for my purposes, but I suspect the discounts will put this watch in the right place to add it as a heritage/throwback piece.

  • Der0

    I’d love to get a heritage Heuer edition watch one day.
    This one or the Carrera Telemeter would be my picks out of the current crop.

    Thank you for the story and giving the differences of details between the various homage/editions of the Calibre 11 Monaco.

  • Omegaboy

    VERY cool watch! The best of both worlds – vintage looks with modern movement and materials.

  • Josh Graves

    I’m not a TAG fan, but alot of the old Heuer pieces were great. This piece jumps straight to second place in my watch wish list.

  • wallydog2

    I’m almost as tired of the Tag Heuer/Monaco marketing song and dance as of the Omega/NASA schtick. Themes from a previous century begin to wear thin, even for those of us in our 70s. (Now a Green Mustang/Steve McQueen watch I’d go for,)

  • DanW94

    I tried on a Calibre 12 at a dealer a while back. I didn’t think I’d like it but found at 39mm it doesn’t feel like a big block sitting on the wrist. It’s definitely an eye catcher with the distinctive shape and colorful dial. I have no particular interest in F1 racing so that connection has no appeal to me. Nice, but not one on my wish list. David, excellent review and thanks for the recap on the history of the watch.

    • Larry Holmack

      I’ve tried on this watch before, an older incarnation of this watch and even on my giant sized wrist…it has a nice presence and I wish I had the disposable income to get one.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I don’t want to sound al moany and stuff, ok, iconic it is and this that and the next thing and you can spot it from 100 meters. And is probably the most faked watch ( apart from Rolex ) that I have ever seen………..but I still don’t like it and never have. .

  • Marius

    I have always liked this watch, but the movement it uses is a bit pedestrian, considering the price. What I don`t understand is who this Steve McQueen guy is. If I understand correctly, he was actually an actor playing the role of an F1 driver, so all this hype around McQueen is a bit exaggerated since he wasn`t a real famous driver. Moreover, the film appears to have been made in the 70s, so I doubt that the younger public knows about him.

    • Larry Holmack

      Well….McQueen was not only the “King of Cool” in the 1960’s and 70’s…he was also one hell of a good driver and raced in many races…cars and motorcycles….and in fact had considered becoming a professional driver. In the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring race, Peter Revson and McQueen (driving with a cast on his left foot from a motorcycle accident two weeks earlier) won with a Porsche 908/02 in the three-litre class and missed winning overall by 23 seconds to Mario Andretti/ Ignazio Giunti / Nino Vaccarella in a five-litre Ferrari 512S. Just do a google search and read about him…if you love racing…you’ll become a fan of his!!!

      • Marius

        Thank you for the information. I will read more about him, he seems to have had a very interesting life.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Do you have a point ?

        • Larry Holmack

          Did you read Marius’ original post??? I just gave him a small amount of information on Steve McQueen….since he didn’t know who he was!!! I guess you didn’t read his answer to me either….

          • Raymond Wilkie

            My point was just because some guy ages ago wore a timepiece, makes it iconic escapes me…….. and so does someone who hasn’t heard of Steve McQueen.

          • It’s not our fault you don’t know who he is 🙂

    • Fooman

      You do not know who he is? Or just trolling? Real racer, and one of the most famous actors of his day…. I was not expecting to read this… Hell even watches that he never owned that somehow became associated with him have skyrocketed. The Rolex Orange Hand Explorer II has been called the Steve McQueen Rolex and while there is zero evidence that he owned or even wore one, has become on of the most expensive Stainless Steel Rolexes out there.

      • Marius

        So just because I don`t know much about McQueen, you assume I am a troll? I prefer movies by Michelangelo Antonioni. Not everything in the world gravitates around American actors.

        • Fooman

          That is not what I am saying. A causal internet search would have provided alot of information. Additionally he has been in the news alot over the past 2 decades for various reasons, not to mention he gets a fair amount of press in the watch news.

          I did not mean that as a slam on you, its just one of those things that has kinda sunk into the general awareness of things esp for watch collectors. In watch circles you could argue he eclipses Paul Newman as a bit of general knowledge.

          Cars and Watches tend to go hand in hand, and McQueens cars are some of the most expensive cars to have been sold at auction over the past 20 years, and one of his is one of the jewels of the Peterson Museum, the premier auto museum in the US.

          He raced cars and motorcycles , with more then a fair bit of success, and as other people have mentioned the King of Cool in the 60’s and 70’s.

          Again It was not a slam and I am sorry if it was taken that way, just a bit of a surprise to see a comment to that effect here.

          • Antjay

            You will probably have to explain Paul Newman to him now .

          • Just Google “Cool Hand Luke” for Paul Newman.

    • wallydog2

      Watch “Bullitt” and weep. Ain’t nobody cooler than Steve McQueen.
      (Young people nowadays ain’t got no respect.)

  • SuperStrapper

    Nice, but the horizontal markers are ruining it for me.

    • mtnsicl

      For some reason Spong Bob Square Pants popped into my head when I saw that. I know, it’s weird!

      • SuperStrapper

        I’m pretty sure David said it lives in a pineapple under the, so that might have something to do with it.

    • Fooman

      Great that is all I see now when I look at this watch. I didn’t notice them at all the first time I looked at it.

  • mtnsicl

    TAG: Sellng expensive garbage since 1860

    • SuperStrapper

      TAG was formed in 1977. Try again.

      • mtnsicl
        • SuperStrapper

          1) lol Wikipedia
          2) You’re only proving yourself wrong anyway. Did you read it before you tried to throw it at me?

          • mtnsicl
          • SuperStrapper

            All that work and you still don’t get how wrong you are. Ignorance is bliss I guess.

          • mtnsicl

            If you’re so smart, how about taking the time to school me, instead of being a dick.

          • SuperStrapper

            So, I’m the one being a dick? Interesting.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            oh for god sake !

          • mtnsicl
          • mtnsicl
          • Shinytoys

            Heuer has indeed been around since 1860. TAG purchased the Heuer name in the late 70’s .

          • SuperStrapper

            Agreed, but that’s not what was said.

          • mtnsicl

            Excuse the semantics. You were certainly smart enough to know what I meant. I take the dick back. Have a nice holiday!

          • SuperStrapper

            And you were certainly mature enough to not smear an organization like Heuer as doing nothing but sell overpriced garbage.

            Merry Christmas,

          • Shinytoys

            The company some time in the late ninety s was wholly aquired by a French group. I think it was and still is LVMH.

          • SuperStrapper

            Correct, I believe for about 3/4 of a billion dollars. Which, with inflation in today’s money would be a jillion and a half.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Best not throwing unsubstansuated ” facts ” about watches from dubious sites.

      • mtnsicl
    • Shinytoys

      Your opinion of course. No matter how off base you are.

  • Fooman

    I want to love this watch. Ok I do love this watch, but I have tried on every version of this watch in the various sizes and not a single one has looked “right” on my wrist. Something about its proportions and my wrist are not a good match. Although while I think these are no longer available the Limited edition PCA version from a few years back is pretty amazing. http://www.pca-tag.com/PCA.html

    • SuperStrapper

      There is a discontinued version with 3 registers and probably the nicest bracelet TAG has ever put out that is my personal fave.

  • While shooting Le Mans movie,between scenes McQueen was actualy wearing his own Rolex Submariner.

  • Shinytoys

    Non tag FOREVER!!! Get rid of the tag, it cheapens the watch. I’ve loved the Monoco since it’s inception.

  • Berndt Norten

    To ABTW editorial staff: Skeletor-style ‘conversation’ below. Please monitor the instigator. I thought we were finished with this tiring stuff.

    • Surprisingly, all 3 of them are regular commenters. Guess they just don’t agree much today. I even know 2 of them. So not exactly a pure tolling operation like the fake Skeletor (the real one who account/name was hacked was never the problem). Cheers.

      • Berndt Norten

        OK, maybe I was quick to the draw. I just saw one person calling another person a ‘dick’ and thought ‘oh no, there goes Tokyo…’

        • DanW94

          Go, go Godzilla….

        • Yeah, it had all the ear marks of a steel cage troll fight. Hopefully these reasonable, but impassioned, guys will give it a rest until another post! It’s fine to disagree so long as we are respectful of each other. Just my 2 cents. Cheers.

          • SuperStrapper

            Honestly, how is talking down about someone right in front of them but in the 3rd person any less ‘trollish’. If either of you have something to say, I am very easy to find.

  • BNABOD

    how thick is that puppy? looks rather uncomfortable on David’s wrist.

    • It’s thick…I also tried on the Monaco 69 which is a 3 hander Monaco on the one side, and a digital chrono on the other, and it’s about 1.5 times thicker than this watch…Let’s just say that thick, stumpy and square does not translate very well into a watch shape for me.

  • commentator bob

    The sunburst dial is amazing in person, sad to see it go even if the matte dial is more authentic.

    When the Monaco came out in 1969 it cost $220. Adjusted for inflation that is $1,423. And that was without computer aided design, robotics and Chinese outsourcing up to the minimum content requied for “Swiss Made”.

    • David Bredan

      A valid and noteworthy point, however merely adjusting prices for inflation will not get you to the actual difference in cost of a Monaco (or any other product) five decades ago and today.
      A bit over a year ago I have spent several weeks thinking through the economics and doing the necessary research and calculations based on historical data to help better understand the process of how luxury prices increased. The article is based on Rolex retail prices going back to the ’50s and you’ll find it here:
      https://www.ablogtowatch.com/rolex-prices-past-60-years-revealing-analysis/

      In it, I mention that 50+ years is a long period of time in economics and hence over such an extended period of time in an ideal economy (i.e. in first world countries) the increase of household income should outperform inflation – which is the case. So what’d get you closer to how much the Monaco has actually appreciated in value (i.e. how much more difficult it is to afford one) is by comparing how many Monacos could have been purchased with the average income in the ’60s and how many the average income will get you today. The difference between the inflation-adjusted price and the retail price today is considerably greater than the (still certainly big) difference between how many Monacos you could actually buy on average income then and now. Cost of production and advancements in manufacturing processes are also factors one should consider.

      • commentator bob

        Thanks, your Rolex article played a role in me taking inrerest in the historic prices of watches.

        Generally because of advancements in technology manufactred good should get cheaper. In 1969 there was no CAD, no roboticization, no Chinese outsourcing for hand finishing. It was a different world.

        The productivity that gives people higher incomes should give them less expensive manufatured goods.

        The exception is when there is a Veblen or monopoly effect. Both of which are occuring here.

        Heuer has a monopoly on the watch that McQueen wore in Le Mans instead of his Sub (and instead of a Speedmaster because he was worried Omega would exploit his image: The irony).

        On top of that there is a Veblen effect because a $5,000 watch is more prestigious to show off than a $1,000 watch.

        Aside from the inflation analysis benchmarking this watch against similar quality automatic chronographs

  • iamcalledryan

    Pretty nice, but the V4 has more real estate in my heart.

  • GalaxyGuy

    I really like the left handed crown. This is overall a pretty great watch, but I’m currently longing for an EP. This one does have a little something special, though.

  • GalaxyGuy

    “The TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 CAW211P should have just recently started hitting stores worldwide with a more-than-tempting price of $5,500. tagheuer.com”

    If you care (or even if you don’t), tagheuer.com has this listed at $5900 here.

    https://shop-us.tagheuer.com/en/calibre-11-automatic-chronograph-39-mm-caw211p-fc6356.html

    • commentator bob

      These guys have it at $4,070. I blame the Christmas season, over the summer I saw this new version as low as $3,500.

      http://www.watchesonnet.com/tag-heuer-caw211p-fc6356.html

    • David Bredan

      TAG did confirm to us a price of $5,550 but as it often happens with a new release (and in fact generally as well) there may be some differences online, in stores, or between locations.

  • Timestandsstill

    I’m puzzled that no one has mentioned the irony of this piece being called the Calibre 11 but does not contain a Calibre 11 inside …Am I missing something or is the original movement too antiquated to still use or impractical to make again?

    • Heritage over actual history – you ar so right. So it’s more in the spirit of the caliber 11 than anything else.Given modern considerations, this is a pretty close homage

    • David Bredan

      Yes, I did point out that the double-Calibre-11 naming is confusing – and, frankly, I personally feel throwing that into the name doesn’t add anything to the appeal of what already is a fantastic watch and a great tribute piece.
      The “obvious reasons” include exactly what you mentioned (possibly impractical and/or antiquated), and the fact that if the Calibre 11 was a movement that could have been revived in a scalable and economical way, TAG Heuer would have done it ages ago. (there is a 1% chance that maybe they’ll do it again, but beyond a marginal possibility, I don’t see it happening ever)

  • I like and wear big watches, but this has never sat well on my wrist…it’s like a bar of soap.

  • John Milner

    I like the watch and glad that they didn’t add the dumb Tag name to it. But, I still like my Heuer Carrera Crono 3 dial with Tachy scale better that I bought in 1975 for $135.

  • While not normally a fan of square cased watches, I have to admit I like the look of this one.

    I don’t think it’s any one thing… just a nice case of the total being more than the sum of the parts.