The Monza is a rather interesting collection from TAG Heuer, although it is undoubtedly a lesser-known collection as compared to the flagships (think Monaco or Carrera). Although it may have taken a backseat in recent years, TAG Heuer may just have revived this collection in a spectacular manner.
First debuted in 1975, the Monza was created as a timepiece to commemorate the legendary Niki Lauda’s first Formula One world championship title with Ferrari. There is no doubt about the racing heritage of the timepiece, supported by its provenance and racing-inspired design cues.
The watch, which features a relatively uncommon coussin case, went in and out of TAG Heuer’s repertoire over the next four decades. This was until TAG Heuer reintroduced the Monza, in the form of a reissue in 2016. The reactions were largely positive, although there was not much of a follow-up from then on.
Out of the blue, in the recent 2023 edition of the LVMH Watch Week, TAG Heuer had introduced a new version of the Monza. A long awaited one, perhaps. However, here is the question that begets all: Is it worth the wait?
TAG Heuer Monza Flyback Chronometer
The watch is currently priced at S$19,500.
The newest version of the Monza features the iconic cushion-shaped case, but not without a new dimension. TAG Heuer had touted this piece to be the modern interpretation of the original, with bold and contemporary touches that also showcases the manufacturer’s prowess in design and its technical capabilities. On the first impression, the watch does stand out in a positive manner, with its semi-skeletonised dial and carbon case. We are already liking what we are seeing right now.
The Dial, Case and Hands
The latest Monza is fitted with a 42mm coussin case, in which it is made with carbon. This is a slight departure from most of its predecessors, in which they were all featured with a black PVD case instead. In our opinion, the use of a carbon case not only allows TAG Heuer to retain the black-coloured case (albeit now the gray swirls and patterns), but it also showcases the modern side of the manufacturer – which is also the goal of this particular watch.
Moving on, we have the dial of the watch. This is arguably the most striking aspect of the timepiece, with a bold choice of design and colour scheme.
The watch features a semi-skeletonised dial, which further adds on to the contemporary nature of this timepiece. This is also part of the design language of certain modern TAG Heuer timepieces, in which the semi-skeletonised dial is also fitted on models such as the Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon and Carrera Heuer 01. It also features two sub-dials at both the 3 and 6 o’clock position, as well as a blue luminescent date window at the 9 o’clock position.
TAG Heuer had also incorporated a distinctive shade of bright blue on various components of the dial. This includes the lacquered indices (which are filled with luminescence material), central chronograph hands, a portion of the 30-minute chronograph counter, as well as pulsometer. The same shade of blue was also used in the stitching of the strap, which is certainly a nice touch to the timepiece altogether.
On the subject of blue tones, the two sub-dials at the 3 and 6 o’clock position are also each fitted with a translucent fumé blue sapphire crystal. Whilst it may not appear to be conspicuous in certain lighting conditions (such as the one in the photo), it is still distinctive under stronger lights, which certainly lends more modernity to this timepiece.
Finally, we have the hands of the Monza. The hour and minute hands are sword-shaped, and it is finished in white lacquer with Super-Luminova filling. The central chronograph hand is in bright blue, while the two hands on the sub-dials are finished in red. The red hands are a nod to the original Monza watches, and this is especially seen in the 30-minute chronograph counter where the hand is shaped in the form of a syringe (a staple of vintage chronographs in the 1970s).
Overall, there is an interesting juxtaposition in terms of its design. TAG Heuer had expertly integrated the modern aspects into the timepiece seamlessly, without altering the DNA of the Monza to the stage of being detrimental. It is an aesthetically pleasing timepiece, and certainly a great addition for the Monza collection.
The Movement: Calibre HEUER02 COSC Flyback
Powering the new Monza is TAG Heuer’s Calibre HEUER02 COSC Flyback. This self-winding movement, as its name suggests, features the flyback chronograph function. In addition, it is also COSC certified, which reinforces the tight performance tolerance of this movement.
Numbers-wise, the movement beats at a frequency of 4 Hz (or 28,800 bph), with an autonomy of around 80 hours. These are fairly strong figures, although it is nothing excessively spectacular.
In terms of the movement’s finishing, the Calibre HEUER02 COSC Flyback is pretty straightforward. The movement features a nice skeletonised winding rotor, finished with Geneva stripes and what we assume is black PVD coating. The bridges are also finished with Geneva stripes, as well as some bevelling. These finishings are most likely done by machines, but they are still completed on a rather decent level altogether.
The TAG Heuer Monza Flyback Chronometer is priced at S$19,500. It is undoubtedly a relatively princely sum for a TAG Heuer timepiece, but it must be said that this is not just any other TAG Heuer timepiece after all.
Having said that, there are some serious competitions for the Monza, at this particular price point.
First up, we have another new timepiece from the LVMH Watch Week: Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton. The new Defy Skyline features an interesting skeleton dial, which lends a nice touch to the luxury sports watch. This is also a nice alternative in the luxury sports watch space, especially if one is looking for a slightly different piece from the usual suspect. Although it is not entirely a watch that is similar to the Monza, the fact that it is a modern-looking timepiece with a skeletonised dial is worth a consideration. The watch is priced at S$16,100.
If one is looking for an ultra-cool watch, then the FR2NCK MULLER Vanguard – a collaboration between Franck Muller and Tokyo-based streetwear label #FR2 – is a watch that might be something on the cards. Although it is nowhere as complicated as the Monza, the FR2NCK MULLER Vanguard is still a captivating piece. This is all thanks to its striking monochromatic colours, and the prominent streetwear vibes that #FR2 had injected into this timepiece. The watch retails at S$15,800, and it is limited to a production of 800 pieces.
We round up with the attractive Girard-Perregaux Laureato Absolute Rock. The luxury sports watch is a bit more special than the usual iterations – it features Carbon Glass, a revolutionary new material is 100 times stiffer than steel, and it features integrated pigmented glass fibres that appears to have a life on its own with its vibrant glow. Priced at S$23,300, this GP is a tad more special than the rest of the options here, although it certainly comes with a slight premium.
The Monza is an icon in the TAG Heuer line-up, and we are certainly glad to see the manufacturer finally producing a new iteration of the timepiece after a long hiatus. The latest model is certainly worth the wait, with its ultra-modern and captivating design.
If there was only one gripe, it would be the price tag. Yes, this particular Monza features the flyback chronograph function and a carbon case, but at almost twenty grand, it is quite a significant premium over the 2016 reissue (albeit with lesser goodies). It may have been more palatable to price it at the low sub-S$10,000 level, even though some compromises might have to be made (such as the exclusion of the flyback function, or perhaps the reversion to a more typical black PVD case). But hey, what do we know?
Price-aside, we are glad that TAG Heuer had brought back the Monza collection again. It is a great collection, with a rather excellent design and an intriguing provenance. It should not be kept only in the archives, and we do hope that the brand will continue to expand on this collection and allow it to garner the attention that it deserves.