TAG Heuer Introduces the Monaco Split Seconds Chronograph

Premium, Vaucher-powered, and pricey.

TAG Heuer’s flagship launch at Watches & Wonders 2024 is the Monaco Split Seconds Chronograph, the brand’s first-ever mechanical split-seconds chronograph wristwatch. Initially launched as a piece unique for the postponed 2023 edition of Only Watch, the Monaco Split Seconds now enters regular production in red and blue liveries.

Titanium inside and out with an integrated movement developed by Vaucher – the movement bridges and plates are titanium – the Monaco Split Seconds is a premium product with a premium price that puts the brand in the haute horlogerie segment, which also communicates a mixed message given the brand’s focus on affordable chronographs.

Initial thoughts

While sports timekeeping is core to TAG Heuer’s DNA, the brand’s only wrist-worn split seconds chronographs to date were of the quartz and digital variety. And given the delayed sale of the Only Watch example, the Monaco Split Seconds will be TAG Heuer’s first mechanical split-seconds chronograph sold publicly, enhancing the collector appeal.

One of the most iconic square watches in history – and probably the only recognisable sports chronograph with a form case – the Monaco has proven adaptable to both retro and futuristic designs over the years; the Split Seconds is of course the latter.

While I find the overall styling a bit over the top, especially the X-shaped braces that form part of the dial, I can’t help but admire many of the details, such as the stepped box sapphire crystal and the way the design of the split seconds pusher at nine o’clock provides visual balance. In other words, it’s futuristic design done well.

Thought it is a large watch, it is notably lightweight thanks to the extensive use of titanium, so it should wear well despite the generous dimensions. That said, the size arguably works better with a square case, as opposed to a round case of comparable dimensions.

The execution of the design is also impressive, with details like the clear sapphire chapter ring on the front and the all-titanium movement reflecting the attention to detail in the execution. The hand finishing on the movement is also impressive, it is clearly Vaucher quality rather than the typical decoration found on TAG Heuer’s affordable chronographs.

The fact that the calibre comes courtesy of Vaucher is a good thing. The movement a high-spec calibre that has a high-frequency escapement, integrated chronograph construction, and automatic winding – a relatively unique combination of features even in the rarefied world of high-end rattrapante chronographs.

With a retail price of CHF135,000, the Monaco Split Seconds is priced comparably to other watches with the same movement, namely the Parmigiani Tonda PF Split-Seconds Chronograph.

However, the pricing sends a mixed message to the market. Just a few years ago, TAG Heuer embarked on a mission to make exotic complications more affordable, most notably with the Carrera 02T Tourbillon Chronograph which is still in the catalog listed at US$22,500 in its basis format. And its recent speciality is smart variants of the Carrera chronograph with clever, simple complications like the Chronosprint. Impressive as the Monaco Split Seconds, it’s hard to see how the Monaco Split Seconds fits into that strategy.

A familiar movement

Available in natural or black DLC-coated titanium, the Monaco Split Seconds weighs just 85 grams despite substantial dimensions of 47.9 mm lug-to-lug and 15.2 mm in height.

A good part of the weight savings come from the movement, which has titanium bridges and plates. While having Carole Forestier-Kasapi at the helm of its technical department means TAG Heuer is capable of developing a split seconds chronograph in-house – in fact it would not be surprising to see an in-house calibre in the future – the brand opted to partner with Vaucher for the split-seconds movement.

As a result, much of what we see is familiar. From the 5 Hz beat rate and 65-hour power reserve to the recognisable one-piece reset hammer and free-sprung balance, it’s clear that a lot of the mechanics are tried-and-tested Vaucher designs.

From a reliability and service standpoint, that’s probably a good thing, as chronographs, especially split seconds chronographs are difficult to get right. The base movement features all the bells and whistles one expects from a modern sport chronograph, including a vertical clutch and dual column wheels.

But naturally, TAG Heuer put its own spin on the aesthetics of the movement with titanium plates and bridges. The bridges on the back are finished with a hand applied graté pattern, a chequerboard motif meant to evoke the brand’s racing history. The aesthetics continue on the front with a semi-open worked, stylised main plate visible beneath the sapphire crystal dial.

Key facts and price

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph
Ref. CBW2181.FC8322 (red)
Ref. CBW2182.FC8339 (blue)

Diameter: 47.9 mm
Height: 15.2 mm
Crystal: Sapphire
Material: Titanium
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: TH81-00
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and split-seconds chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 65 hours

Strap: Calfskin strap or titanium bracelet

Limited edition: No
June 2024
Price: CHF135,000

For more, visit tagheuer.com.


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