Hands-On The TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford Watch

To be totally candid, I’ve never cared for Bamford blacked-out watches. We all choose our things about which to be irrationally doctrinaire in this world. Some people are intolerant of date windows (on principle), some people are intolerant of anything over 38mm in diameter (on principle,) some people are intolerant of non-in-house movements, and on and on. I’ve always been intolerant of so-called “modded watches,” and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the closet museum conservator in me, but I hate the idea of taking a finished watch as the starting point for significant cosmetic modifications. I would never tell anyone what to do with their own watch, but that doesn’t stop me from privately deploring it when it happens. However this time we have, you might say, a horse of a different color.

The relationship, somehow, seems to make the whole thing more plausible (like I said, this is irrational; the general feel of the designs isn’t markedly different in the collaboration models) and at Baselworld, we had a chance to look at one of the first collaboration models from TAG Heuer and Bamford, which is the cheap replica TAG Heuer Bamford Monaco watch.

Much to my own surprise, up close and personal, I liked the watch immediately. From a design standpoint it really came together for me – now, this kind of approach to watch design is always going to be polarizing and I’m sure this take on a Monaco will rub some of us the wrong way, but for lack of a better word, I thought it looked cool. I think the size might have something to do with it; this is a 39mm wristwatch and it seems to wear its carbon case very naturally. In terms of dial layout, position of the pushers and crown, and so on, it’s a classic Monaco, solidly rooted in the original caliber 11 model from 1969.

I think part of the reason this take on the Monaco seems to work so well is that the original design is not particularly conservative either – the Monaco has always been a slightly aggressive-feeling, very design-forward watch (and it has always been comfortable with eye-catching colors; the Gulf Monaco is a perfect example). Seeing it in a carbon case, and with the vivid “aquablue” and black dial, and matching date display, doesn’t feel like something grafted on; instead it feels like a natural extension of the original design.

It’s extremely comfortable to wear and again, it was a very pleasant surprise to see how instantly at home on the wrist it seemed – it really does feel like a watch you could wear on a daily basis, especially if your personal style tends towards the slightly colorful and the occasionally unusual. It’s a got a wrist-friendly size, and real graphic punch, and the carbon case brings more visual interest to the table, as well as radiating a contemporary-cool feel that’s a great match to the overall Monaco design. In his original Introducing story on the watch, James Stacey wrote, “I like that it does nothing to threaten the existence or legitimacy of the more classic Monaco while still managing to take the Monaco in a new direction that maintains its connection with motorsports,” and I’m inclined to agree with that assessment.

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