Dark Sun: TAG Heuer Monaco Special Edition
Introducing the TAG Heuer Monaco Special Edition, which is billed as the ultimate version of a certain vintage model.
By Ashok Soman
Sometimes, a watch comes along that we are hungry to write about. It does not happen often, but it did happen here for our cover story. The TAG Heuer Monaco is an icon, and it represents an important part of what we love about watches. We could even write the story without a new watch to reference, which thankfully we did not have to do. To understand this, it helps to consider the reality of the Monaco Special Edition here. The case is hardly new and neither is the automatic Heuer 02 movement. By any measure, it is an evolution, not a revolution. By way of contrast, when the Monaco debuted, it was truly revolutionary. But you can discover more about that in the cover story. Here, we sing the praises of this particular model, and the details that make it a handsome piece.
To begin with, we reiterate that this watch is based off the famous Dark Lord model of 1975, but it is not a reissue or even a real tribute. Instead, it is more of a riff on the look. In terms of size and shape, it is no different to the other Monaco offerings, being a square 39mm watch. Where the watch makes its mark is in its sandblasted DLC titanium grade two material, and highly unusual two-tone black-on-black dial (circular brushed within the minute track, and highly grained around the hour markers). These markers themselves are rose gold plated, matching the hour, minute and small second hands (with white SuperLuminova on the hour and minute hands). The effect is striking in pictures, which we hope to convince you of with our own photographic evidence as well as the stock press images.
In the metal, the effect is even more impressive, with the grained elements standing out. You might gaze upon it and feel that it reminds you of a racetrack, or of racing tyres — the press release mentions these exact examples, yet we thought of them independently after our shoot with the watches. Perhaps we are on the same wavelength as the communications team at TAG Heuer, or there is something organic to this description.
This wealth of visual cues might sound overwhelming, and we have not even mentioned the chronograph hands and the subdials. The Monaco has a proven track record of making such aesthetic touches work, and the Monaco Special Edition is no exception. On that note, the crown and chronograph pushers are also in the same grade 2 DLC titanium. The black alligator strap also sports a folding clasp in the same material, also with DLC. Incidentally, besides adding a degree of surface hardness, DLC has the more practical benefit of making surfaces resistant to visible fingerprint stains. We have tested this out many times and it seems to work as advertised, though it is not 100 per cent effective; TAG Heuer does not make this claim in the press materials.
A specific claim worth looking into is that this is only the second Monaco to be cased in titanium, after the Titan Limited Edition last year. It follows then that this is the first time the Monaco has been cased in DLC treated titanium. This Special Edition, which we like to call the Dark Sun, is only available at TAG Heuer boutiques and online.