TAG Heuer Introduces the Monaco Titan

The ref. 1133B reimagined.

Perhaps TAG Heuer’s most distinctive vintage chronograph, the Monaco is best known for having been worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 film Le Mans. Having been iterated multiple times in modern times, the Monaco is making its debut in a more unusual guise.

A blend of old and new, the Monaco Titan has a sandblasted titanium case, along with a brushed silver that bearing the trademark horizontal markers of the original Monaco.

Initial thoughts

TAG Heuer has launched many Monaco editions recently, enough that I can’t recall most of them.

The Monaco Titan, however, stands out in both design and materials. Combining the style of the vintage Monaco ref. 1133B – most notably the distinctive horizontal hour markers – with modern colours, finishes, and materials, this arguably the best looking Monaco of the last couple of years.

Besides the aesthetics of the material – titanium is a darker grey shade than steel – the case will be noticeably lighter in titanium, which will be useful given that the Monaco is a relatively chunky watch, despite a relatively modest diameter.

Somewhat pricey at US$7,900, the Monaco Titan isn’t quite the value proposition of the Monaco models with the in-house Heuer 02 movement – which cost less despite the in-house movement – though the price premium is partially attributable to the case material and limited edition run. Still, the Monaco Titan is an appealing watch, and the most appealing in the Monaco line.

Matte titanium

The Monaco Titan retains the classic dimensions of the model, with a case that’s 39 mm square. While nearly all modern-day Monaco have steel cases, its case is titanium that’s been sandblasted, giving it a grained surface.

It has the winding crown at nine o’clock, exactly as it was on the vintage Monaco. On the original, the unconventional crown position was a consequence of the cal. 11 Chronomatic movement inside, one of the first-ever automatic chronograph movements.

Now the Monaco relies on the Calibre 11, which is actually an ETA 2893. It’s a modular movement made up of an ETA 2892 base with the chronograph mechanism on top. Because of its modular construction, the base movement can be rotated 180 degrees to position the crown at nine o’clock, while still having the chronograph pushers in their usual positions on the right.

The dial is silvered, radially brushed, and matched with recessed black registers, along with a handful of red accents. More notable is its design, which sticks closely to that of the vintage original.

All elements on the dial are modelled on the original as far as feasible, even “Swiss made” above the date window (which was just “Swiss” on the original). Its distinguishing feature are the baton hour markers – with one sloped end as on the original – that are positioned horizontally, instead of radially as is convention.

Key facts and price

TAG Heuer Monaco Titan
Ref. CAW218B.FC6496

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Calibre 11 (ETA 2893)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp

Limited edition: 500 pieces
Availability: From May 2021 at TAG Heuer’s online shop and boutiques
US$7,900; or 11,100 Singapore dollars

For more, visit tagheuer.com


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Auction Watch: Record-Setting Patek Philippe Ref. 1415 World Time

And other treasures from the "Samsung Collection".

A frequent topic of news headlines recently is the US$11 billion tax bill faced by the Lee family that controls Samsung. South Korea’s 60% inheritance tax is the highest in the rich world, resulting in the gargantuan tax assessment after the death of Lee Kun-hee, the former chairman of Samsung.

The late Lee was a reticent but prodigious collector of art, automobiles, and also watches – all of which are either being sold or donated to help cover the bill. According to the Financial Times, Lee amassed 23,000 works of art, including paintings by Basquiat, Dalí, Monet and Picasso. Valued at over US$2 billion, the art collection will be donated to various museums in South Korea to offset some of the taxes.

Christie’s mega auction

Comprised of several hundred wrist- and pocket watches, Lee’s timepiece collection was consigned to Christie’s, according to several industry insiders. The first watches from the collection will be sold on May 22 in Hong Kong at a sale led by Christie’s head of watches in Asia, Alexandre Bigler.

Amongst the highlights of the collection is the unique Patek Philippe Ref. 1415 HU world time in platinum that once held the record for the most expensive watch ever when it sold for 6.6 million Swiss francs at Antiquorum’s Geneva auction in April 2002.

Alexandre Bigler of Christie’s

While the identities of the buyers of recent record-setting watches is often unknown except to a handful of well-connected individuals (the buyer of the US$31-million Patek Philippe Ref. 6300A, for instance, was a low-key Asian collector), it was widely known at the time that the buyer of the ref. 1415 HU was Lee. In fact, Lee was one of the few mega-wealthy individuals – worth some US$20 billion at the time of his death according to Forbes – known to be a major collector of watches. Another was German supermarket billionaire Erivan Haub, whose collection of 800 pocket watches is progressively being sold at Sotheby’s.

An industry veteran who was in the room during the sale recounted the excitable atmosphere, with some Antiquorum representatives wielded two telephones to handle the frenzied phone bidding.

Reputedly stored in a museum-like home in Tokyo after it was acquired by Lee, the ref. 1415 HU has not been seen publicly since 2002. Though it has been known to the market for decades, it has only emerged occasionally. Swiss watch collector Edmond Saran recounted the history of the watch prior to its 2002 on his blog Le Monde Edmond last month, noting that it was bought and sold several times by Davide Parmigiani, the Italian vintage watch dealer regarded as one of the world’s biggest.

Like many of the other timepieces known to be part of Lee’s collection, the ref. 1415 HU represents the ultimate in watch collecting of the 1990s and early 2000s. Unsurprisingly, Christie’s is also offering other watches in the same category during the same evening sale in Hong Kong.

The 18 lots that make up The Legends of Time represent include extremely fine and ornate pocket watches made for the Chinese market in the 19th century, including an enamelled perfume flask set set with pearls attributed to Piguet & Capt, which has an estimate of HK$8.0-40 million, or US$1.0-5.0 million, making it one of the most valuable lots in the sale.

Another iconic Chinese market timepiece is a perfume sprinkling pistol, again decorated in enamel and pearls, that’s attributed to Moulinié, Bautte & Cie. and J.B. Garrand.

The flask attributed to Piguet & Capt

The perfume-sprinkling pistol believed to be the work of Moulinié, Bautte & Cie. and J.B. Garrand

Also in the sale are two more Patek Philippe world time watches, a ref. 1415 in pink gold with a cloisonné enamel dial (which also sold for a record price in the same auction as its platinum counterpart) and a ref. 2523/1 on a gold bracelet.

The ref. 1415 HU in pink gold

Another notable wristwatch in the sale is the Patek Philippe ref. 3448 “Alan Banbery” – a unique example made for the brand’s longtime sales director – though it was consigned by a noted Southeast asian collector rather than being part of Lee’s collection.

The auction takes place on May 22, 2021 at Christie’s Hong Kong. The catalogue and sale details are available on Christies.com.


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