The Dark Lord Riseth

For Geneva’s Only Watch 2021 charity auction, TAG Heuer has invoked the spirit of the super-rare Monaco ‘Dark Lord’, with a unique carbon-cased version of its square-cased chronograph, that will never be recreated.

TAG Heuer's Carbon Monaco Dark Lord for Only Watch 2021

For the ninth edition of biennial charity watch auction Only Watch 2021, TAG Heuer has reimagined the legendary Monaco ‘Dark Lord’ – an ultra-rare, one-off, high-end, hand-finished carbon-cased version of its inimitable square-cased chronograph. The auction is set to take place this year in Geneva, on November 6.

The Caseback of TAG Heuer's Carbon Monaco Dark Lord for Only Watch 2021

“Only Watch has become one of the highlights of the watchmaking calendar, and we are so glad to be taking part again and to help raise vital funds for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” says Frédéric Arnault, TAG Heuer Chief Executive Officer. “It’s also our great pleasure to put forward for auction the TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco, one of the most spectacular, imaginative wristwatches we have ever created.”

The carbon-cased piece is a true watchmaking tour de force, playing on more than half a century of TAG Heuer heritage, while also embracing the best of the company’s 21st century savoir faire and innovation. The result is a very special watch that’s both a fond nod to the past and a symbol of TAG Heuer’s insatiable appetite for avant-garde Swiss watchmaking.

The designer's sketch of the Carbon Monaco for Only Watches 2021

Only Watch was founded by Luc Pettavino and first held in 2005, and is under the patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. It continues to unite the world’s finest watch companies, which donate spectacular one-off watches to the auction. To date, Only Watch has raised more than Euros 70 million in support of research projects into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, with 99 percent of proceeds going directly towards funding those projects.

“We wanted to support this magnificent initiative with a unique, memorable watch that celebrated a legend from our past, but that also showcased our passion for fine watchmaking, innovation, aesthetics and avant-garde design,” says Mr Arnault. “The TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco is that watch.”

Sketching the Carbon Monaco by hand

The TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco arrives after months of development, with TAG Heuer’s designers, engineers and partners creating an outstanding wristwatch that brings together more than five decades of watchmaking heritage, fine-watchmaking traditions passed down through the generations and the most advanced contemporary watchmaking techniques available today.

The case is made entirely out of a special carbon fibre

Carbon-ated and how

For aficionados of the La-Chaux-de-Fonds-headquartered TAG Heuer, the Only Watch Carbon Monaco will have clear echoes of the mythical black-PVD-cased Monaco Reference 74033N known by collectors as the ‘Dark Lord’. It was produced in limited quantities in the mid-1970s and never appeared in a Heuer (as the company was called until 1985) catalogue or any of the company’s advertising. Today, it is extremely rare and highly prized.

Skilled watchmakers at La-Chaud-de-Fonds headquarters of TAG Heuer work on the Carbon Monaco

The TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco’s case tells the story of this special watch using state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques. It’s forged in black carbon fibre, giving it a mysterious look.

TAG Heuer has previously used carbon fibre for its Monaco case with the 2018 Monaco Bamford, but this is a unique case that was designed just to carry the largest sapphire crystal casaback ever applied to a Monaco. TAG Heuer’s engineers wanted to give the watch’s future owner an unimpeded view into its bespoke movement, while ensuring the watch remained water-resistant.

The skeletonized dial made from a single piece of carbon fibre

All Dialled up

The striking skeletonized dial that gives the watch so much of its character is also carbon. It was created in collaboration with TAG Heuer’s long-time partner, dial specialists ArteCad, and is worked from a single piece of carbon fibre. The dial’s architectural look was created by milling and drilling the basic form to reveal striking structural shapes that stretch across the face of the watch like struts on a racing car, a design that makes a subtle reference to TAG Heuer’s roots in motor sport.

Designing the watch face - for TAG Heuer's Carbon Monaco

And here, enters the handcraftsmanship: each of the dial’s intricate skeletonized facets has been finished by hand using the fine-watchmaking technique of anglage, which gives the dial its depth and multidimensional look.

Underneath these, a date wheel peeks through, as does the top side of the movement. Typically, the top side of a calibre is left raw as it’s unseen, hidden by a solid dial. But in this case, TAG Heuer elected to hand-finish it to ensure every element was as exceptional as it could be, even when partially obscured, a decision that’s symbolic of the attention to detail.

Sitting on top of the carbon dial are three black galvanized brass plates that form the watch’s chronograph and small-seconds subdials. Orange detailing sampled from Only Watch’s 2021 sun-kissed colour palette makes the hands stand out against the black dial, while the hour markers are individually machined blocks of highly luminescent beige Super-LumiNova®.

Applying the hour hands on TAG Heuer's Carbon Monaco

Movement to the Finish Line

The TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco is powered by TAG Heuer’s in-house Heuer 02 automatic chronograph, a Swiss-made movement with an 80-hour power reserve. This is a unique expression of the Heuer 02, created exclusively for the occasion. Not only has the movement been beautifully decorated by hand, it also carries TAG Heuer’s groundbreaking in-house carbon hairspring, developed by the company’s TAG Heuer Institute, which delivers exceptional anti-magnetism, shock resistance, stability across temperature ranges and refined geometry for excellent chronometric performance.

Hand-painting the Carbon Monaco in Only Watch 2021's yellow to orange colour palette

The movement also features an oscillating weight in the form of the TAG Heuer shield, which is hand-finished, and decorated with a fine line in the orange to yellow colour of Only Watch 2021, hand-painted by the master dial artist and micro-painter André Martinez. And TAG Heuer decided to give the movement 10 types of hand finishing (spending 25 additional hours), and worked with Artime SA, one of the watch industry’s leaders in decorative techniques, to achieve this – from the rare graté decoration (a chequered-flag motif seen on the movement’s bridges, which also carries special engravings). Moreover, there’re anglage, black polishing, circular graining, straight graining, perlage, snailing, sandblasting, chevron engraving, and sunburst finishing.

The special leather strap is made with a process never before tried by TAG Heuer

To Strap it All

To finish off this spellbinding watch, TAG Heuer has created a novel strap that looks like a metal bracelet, but which is in fact made of leather. The link effect is produced using a highly skilled process that took months to perfect. First, silicon is injected into the sole of the leather. This is then heat-stamped with a mould in the shape of a metal link bracelet, creating the three- dimensional effect. TAG Heuer has never used this technique on a watch strap before.

“My profound congratulations to the team for producing a watch that pushes TAG Heuer watchmaking beyond the edge,” says Mr Arnault. “And my very best wishes to H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, Luc Pettavino, Christie’s and the Only Watch team ahead of this year’s auction. We’ll see you in Geneva.”


Priya Kumari Rana

Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.

Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.

It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.

A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.

Priya Kumari Rana

Founder and Editor

Contact Us

Mail us @