It has been 50 years since the TAG Heuer Monaco burst onto the scene to pay honor to the iconic Grand Prix race. With an appearance like no other, Monaco became an instant icon in the luxury watch world, and over the years it has achieved legendary status. Join us as we go under the cover: TAG Heuer Monaco to reveal the awe-inspiring back story of this amazing watch.
History of TAG Heuer Monaco
Initially introduced by the Heuer brand in 1969, today’s TAG Heuer Monaco revolutionized the luxury watch market by being the first automatic chronograph watch designed with a square case.
Named in honor of the most exciting track on the Formula 1 circuit, the Monaco Grand Prix, Hollywood actor Steve McQueen loved the TAG Heuer Monaco so much he purchased the watch to delve deeper into the character he played in the 1971 film Le Mans. Today, the TAG Heuer Monaco is synonymous with McQueen’s cool, effortless style.
The Heuer Monaco is the brainchild of designer Jack Heuer, who released the new watch in New York City and Geneva Switzerland on the same day.
The TAG Heuer Monaco model 1133 employed the Calibre 11 movement, which was upgraded over the years to incorporate new functions and technology to meet market demands.
The TAG Heuer Monaco was discontinued in the mid-1970s but was redesigned and reintroduced to the market in 1998.
Today’s TAG Heuer Monaco
Another rebirth occurred in 2003 when the TAG Heuer Monaco was outfitted with an entirely new calibre 17 mechanism and a 7-row square-linked steel bracelet. Another noteworthy re-release of the Monaco model was the Monaco V4, which employs a belt-driven mechanism with ball bearings, much like an automobile engine, which is fitting considering it is a watch named for an iconic automobile race.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary, TAG Heuer released the first of five limited-edition versions of the Monaco, during the Formula 1 race it was named for that took place this past May. Released as the Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition, only 169 units were made as an homage to the original ten years of the model’s appearance.
Featuring a green dial with reddish-brown hands and yellow accents, the Monaco 1969-1979 LE takes you straight back to the 1970s just through the colors used in the design. The next four limited-edition releases of the watch will pay tribute to the decade-by-decade design aesthetics of the model.
The TAG Heuer Monaco was the first automatic micro-winding chronograph and featured the Calibre 11 mechanism. Later models featured upgraded Calibre movements, concluding with the 1533 model that used the Calibre 15. In 1972, the Monaco 73633 was released featuring power by the Valjoux 7736 movement and included a third subdial in place of the date dial.
The Monaco 74033 was a manual wind Valjoux 7740 mechanism, and the all-black version is considered rare on the collector’s market. Today’s Monaco is available in Quartz, a redesigned Calibre 11, or a Calibre 12 movement. The redesigned Calibre 11 movement has been the mainstay of the watch since its 40th-anniversary re-issue in 2009.
With unique yet classic good looks, the square-cased TAG Heuer Monaco is a commanding watch. It is no wonder the watch featured on-screen for a full 15-minutes throughout Le Mans, the aforementioned film starring Steve McQueen. Funky and futuristic, the Monaco is a standout, which is what designer Jack Heuer intended all in the first place. Sporty and cool, the Monaco is extremely wearable and laid-back in any setting.
In addition to being a favorite of screen star Steve McQueen, Formula 1 team Red Bull racer Ayrton Senna is a fan of the TAG Heuer Monaco. Actors Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey are also frequently spotted with their TAG Heuer Monaco watches. These superstars are in good company with fellow actor Brad Pitt and Indycar driver Graham Rahal who also favor the watch for special events.
Whether you are the master of cool or not, the TAG Heuer Monaco is an iconic watch with a funky appearance that stops traffic. Named for the most prestigious circuit in racing, the TAG Heuer Monaco does honor to this special place by being an inspirational experience to own and wear.
The watch is an original with its own personality and avant-garde spirit that will awe you as it has for generations of watch lovers and collectors.