Whilst at the WatchPro awards ceremony a few weeks ago, I bumped into an old friend, Tony Sofocli. I first met Tony when I had bought a Parmigiani Tonda Metrograph chronograph and he was the manager of their boutique in Mount St. He left (before the establishment unfortunately shut) and joined TAG Heuer earlier this year as their Oxford St boutique manager. Anyway, we caught up and Tony then asked if I was doing anything the following evening, as they were hosting an evening event and would be displaying some historical motor racing orientated watches brought over from Switzerland. I confirmed that I was free and would be delighted to attend. Although I did not own any TAG chronograph versions, I have an interest in motor racing (and was a fan of Steve McQueen), but did own a moderately rare brown dial time/date only steel version (ref WW2116), with Wesselton diamond markers and a rather funky python strap!
The following evening I made my way to the TAG boutique and things were quite under way. Some nice fizz and canapes were offered along with a lovey all-girl string trio providing musical accompaniment.
I immediately fell into a series of interesting conversations with other guests and staff. There were several display cases showing off Le Mans film memorabilia, including a rare 2nd version Monaco, plus some Heuer racing stopwatches and a model of the Gulf Porsche that McQueen raced. In another display was a series of Monaco models showing the timeline through the years. One rarity was the all-black Dark Lord, and another the belt-driven V4 – both of which now fetch significant sums.
In a further display were some more motor racing influenced models such as the Daytona and Carrera – the latter including a limited production and rare all-gold version. This “Pilot” type was in fact presented to all Ferrari drivers in 1970 and had their name and blood types engraved on the case back. Mmmm, not sure that latter aspect was particularly comforting!
The evening passed quickly and in the end I was the only soul left standing. By this time Tony had alerted me to something rather special as he knew I was interested in unusual chronographs. In this case an all-gold Monaco chronograph on a brown crocodile strap with gold pin buckle. Frankly, I was astonished as I was not aware that one even existed let alone clap eyes on one!
I asked Tony about the watch and he confirmed that Tag had made them – and a couple of other models, from the early 2000’s (in fact only 2002 -2003 for the Monaco. Ed) and really had not made very many – possibly 200 or less (plus maybe some 10 in white gold. Ed). The original price was around £6,500. This example was in fact new/old stock and therefore would come with full packaging/papers and a 2 year warranty. The price was £11,900.
So, what exactly is this model. Well, ref CW5140 is a solid 18ct yellow gold cased (38 mm x 38 mm x 13 mm) Monaco chronograph with “cushion” angled pushers. The dial is 18 ct silvered gold and has 3 sub registers at 3,6, and 9 (but not picked out in another colour), plus a date window at 6. It has baton type hands and gold indexes. The hands are lumed, as are the tips of the indexes. All is covered by a quite pronounced Plexiglass crystal.
The piece is powered by the automatic calibre 17 (which is an ETA 2894-2 movement with a chronograph module) which beats at 28,800 vph (4hz) and has 37 rubies. The power reserve is some 42 hours and water resistance is to 30 m. This movement is COSC chronometer rated. A large gold rotor dominates the movement, and has some nice Cotes de Geneve decoration.
The case back is solid (pity) and notes usual brand information – along with reference and serial numbers, plus 18 ct gold hallmark.
I tried on the watch and, I must say it wears superbly and looks fantastic. Although I was never really taken much with the more usual colourful Monaco chronographs (and the early angled mushroom pushers I was never too keen on), this “dress” version is totally different and I think is a corker. Would it look better on a black strap – maybe, but it is a close run thing.
Tony could see I was somewhat taken, but really my 2019 watch budget was all but exhausted. That late in the year I was not expecting to fork out on another watch having already acquired two already that year. I asked if there may be any price movement possible but, frankly more in hope than expectation, as direct boutique prices tend to be sacrosanct. However, due to the new/old stock scenario, plus our relationship, Tony did not dismiss out of hand and said he would see what he could do. A few days later he came back to me with a revised price which, let me just say, helped me decide to raid the piggy bank and buy!
I collected the watch when I was next in Town (for the QP Club event) and then examined in more detail back at my lodgings. I was pretty pleased with my purchase. More so, as Tony kindly provided a new black strap (as the brown one, whilst essentially new, had been tried on a few wrists and was “rounded”) plus, a TAG reference book on the Monaco.
I wore the watch for the QP Club launch party that evening and it caused a fair amount of interest. I showed it to Messrs Buttery and Hall (QP) and both expressed surprise and made nice noises.
In conclusion, I have a watch that is actually quite rare and has intrinsic value (it is a hefty chunk of gold). It is also good looking, powered by a trusted good quality movement, and wears comfortably. OK, it cannot really be classified as a pure dress watch as it is just to big and heavy, however, I feel it is the sports watch it is – but with dress pretensions. So, it is pretty multi-functional. The strap? Well, at the moment I have kept on the brown version on, but will try on the black at some point. Lastly, back to price. Well, today, they seem to go for about £6-£7,000 (full box/papers etc), but I feel that is somewhat undervalued. I paid a bit more than this, but then mine is effectively a new watch from the manufacturer, with warranty. Overall, I am very content!
Words/Images. The Writer.
Note: This article was updated on 2/6/20 after having communicated with David Chalmers who kindly offered some additional nuggets of valued information. David runs Calibre 11 – an excellent online resource purely covering TAG/Heuer watches.