The Dark Lord reigns again!
TAG Heuer has remade its most coveted historical model in a modern special edition piece. Nicknamed the “Dark Lord” due to its all-black dial and matte PVD case, this particular iteration of its famed Monaco watch (made famous on Steve McQueen’s wrist in Le Mans) was first introduced in the 1974 and, in recent years, the vintage version has become an auction block darling. The blackening treatment, which is now pervasive in watchmaking, was entirely new at the time and was one of the first PVD-coated watches. Only 100 to 200 examples of the noir Heuer Monaco are reported to have been made. As a result, when one pops up on the secondary market it can fetch five-figure hammer prices. In Geneva, at the Phillips “Start-Stop-Reset: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs” auction in 2016, a “Dark Lord” sold for CHF 62,500 (approximately $64,950 at exchange rates at the time), and in 2018, at a Bonham’s sale in London, one raked in $67,584. You can expect those values to rise with news of the 2022 remake.
A hint of a future remake to come showed possibility when TAG Heuer created a one-off modern model for the Only Watch charity auction in Geneva in November of last year. That singular piece took home a whopping CHF 290,000 ($319,360). It was estimated between CHF 50,000-100,000 (approximately $55,000-$110,124 at exchange rates at the time).
Almost 50 years later, the reimagined Dark Lord now comes outfitted in black Grade 2 titanium coated in DLC, offering a less corrosive and lightweight option for today. Titanium was first used by Heuer in the ’80s and was not available as a material when the “Dark Lord” was first conceived. It marks only the second time the company has used titanium in the Monaco lineup—the first was the limited-edition Titan model, introduced last year, and worn by racecar driver Max Verstappen during the Formula 1 World Championship campaign.
It has also been updated with the in-house Caliber Heuer 02 movement, which is constructed with a traditional column wheel, offers 80 hours of power reserve and is topped off with a rose-gold-plated oscillating mass visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. The dial of the Monaco Tribute to Dark Lord Special Edition features a satin-brushed circular finish, while the exterior of the dial and chronograph registers are treated in a sandblasted grained finish, meant to evoke the grip of tires on the track. The seconds hand and chronograph register hands are decked in deep red, while the hour and minute hands come in rose gold with Super-Luminova to provide a visible contrast to the black backdrop.
The 39 mm Monaco Tribute to Dark Lord Special Edition comes on a black alligator leather strap, will be available this month in TAG Heuer boutiques only, is not limited and retails for $8,200.
Don’t underestimate the power of the dark side.