Over the course of its initial production, the original Heuer Monaco series evolved dramatically. From its debut as an avant-garde showcase for the revolutionary Calibre 11 automatic chronograph movement in 1969, the line quickly expanded to include more traditional handwound movements. By 1974, the series was beginning to wind down in favor of newer replacements like the Silverstone, but the original Monaco series still had one last glorious innovation up its sleeve. The Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” is, in some ways, a perfect storm of a collector’s watch. This 1974 release was the first-ever Heuer to feature a black-coated case, predating the more famous Monza by two full years, and due to the experimental and finicky nature of the coating process, the brand produced less than 200 examples over its brief production run. To commemorate the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, TAG Heuer returns to this coveted iteration of the Monaco line with a refined and modernized new interpretation. The new TAG Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” brings a richer and more luxurious character to the black Monaco concept, delivering a striking complement to the 1974 original without directly emulating it.
Like the rest of the Monaco line, the TAG Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” begins with an instantly recognizable 39mm-wide square case. Rather than the familiar arrangement of brushed and polished stainless steel facets, however, here this architectural shape is fully finished in sandblasted matte black DLC-coated Grade 2 titanium. The brand takes things a step further than its previous DLC-coated offerings in images by finishing the familiar wedge-shaped pushers and signed crown in the same matte black for a purposeful, uniform look in images. TAG Heuer finishes the caseback with a sapphire display window but maintains the stainless steel Monaco’s respectable 100 meters of water resistance.
The dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” is where it diverges from its predecessor most dramatically in initial images. The original 1974 “Dark Lord” was the Heuer Monaco at its most aggressive and focused, with the usual set of applied indices swapped out for slim and simple printed line markers and the usual polished and detailed handset replaced with clean, utilitarian white pointed batons. It was a distillation of the Monaco formula into its raciest, most fundamental elements.
By contrast, the new model’s dial adds a layer of luxurious panache to the current Monaco dial layout. The most immediately striking change in images comes courtesy of the dial hardware. Both the applied faceted indices and the broad handset are rendered in brushed and polished 5N rose gold plate, adding a rich, warm contrast to the stark black of the radially brushed main dial surface. TAG Heuer gives this design an extra layer of depth and texture in images courtesy of the outer border surrounding the circular main dial surface. This recessed layer takes on the brand’s uniquely pebbled “asphalt” texture, which deftly accentuates the Monaco’s unique circle-in-square dial layout. Interestingly, the new TAG Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” abandons its predecessor’s famous signal orange chronograph hands in favor of a chronograph handset in more conventional red. This stylistic choice is likely to be a divisive one among Monaco enthusiasts, but given this design’s clear philosophical difference from the stripped-down 1974 original in photos, the change in color does help to distinguish it from the classic model.
TAG Heuer powers the new Monaco “Dark Lord” with its in-house Heuer 02 automatic chronograph movement. The brand ties this powerplant in with the rest of the design visually thanks to a unique 5N rose gold iteration of its signature wheel-style winding rotor, topped with cleanly executed Côtes de Genève. Matching Côtes de Genève across the bridges gives the movement a cohesive look in images, but outside of this striping the rest of the movement’s finishing is decidedly basic. In terms of performance, the column wheel-equipped Heuer 02 is the brand’s current flagship chronograph movement, with a massive 80-hour power reserve and a 28,800 bph beat rate. TAG Heuer completes the new Monaco “Dark Lord” with a matte black alligator leather deployant strap.
Although it delivers a markedly different and more luxe look than its classic 1974 forebear, the new TAG Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” still provides a moody and captivating take on the brand’s cornerstone chronograph model. The new TAG Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” is available now through TAG Heuer boutiques and the brand’s e-commerce platform. MSRP for the new TAG Heuer Monaco “Dark Lord” stands at $8,200 as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.