Five Reasons Why The TAG Heuer Monaco Is So Iconic
Often heralded as one of the most recognisable timepieces in the world, this year the TAG Heuer Monaco celebrates 50 years of ground-breaking design and avant-garde spirit.
Here are our top five reasons why the TAG Heuer Monaco will always have iconic style.
1. The ‘Chronomatic’ movement; the Calibre 11
1969 was a great year for firsts. Not only did Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, but Concorde also took its first flight, the first quartz watch was released, and the revolutionary automatic chronograph was developed - Heuer’s Calibre 11.
On the 3rd of March 1969, TAG Heuer launched the Monaco simultaneously in Geneva and New York. It was powered by the ‘Chronomatic’ Calibre 11 movement - the world’s first integrated automatic chronograph movement.
Designed and developed in secret alongside Bruen and Breitling in what was code-named Project 99, the Calibre 11 arguably won the race to make its mark in the history books of Swiss watchmaking.
It turns out that pairing the distinctive style of the Monaco with the game-changing Calibre 11 movement was a genius move. Today, the Calibre 11 is as iconic as the Monaco itself; as indelibly linked to the series as the Calibre 1861 is to the Speedmaster.
2. The perfect square
One of the most recognisable aspects of the Monaco’s distinctive design, its square case really makes it stand out.
But, when it comes to statement-making style, it turns out that it’s not only just hip to be square. A great conversation-starter, its straight-sided shape also gives the Monaco claim to a couple of other pretty cool world-firsts.
Until the Monaco swaggered onto the scene, square-cased watches were strictly the domain of dress watches as it was impossible to make square cases fully waterproof. Nevertheless, here too the Monaco continued to push the boundaries of traditional watchmaking.
Not only did its square case contain one of the world’s first automatic chronographs, it also became the world’s first square chronograph, as well as the first chronograph in a square waterproof case.
The Monaco quite literally revolutionised the face of Swiss watchmaking forever.
3. Crowns to the left
There are many stories as to why the crown of the Calibre 11 is placed on the left-hand side of the case. Some say that it was so that the crown wouldn’t press in against the wearer’s wrist whilst driving, or that it was due to Steve McQueen tendency to wear his watch on his right wrist.
Whilst the real reason for the unusual crown placement is probably much less romantic, it’s become one of the distinguishing features that contributes to the Monaco’s mystique.
If you’ve got your heart-set on an authentic model, the left-aligned crown is an instant indication that your Monaco is powered by the legendary Calibre 11 movement.
4. All the cool kids
Although the Monaco was fairly well received when it was first launched, it wasn’t until it appeared on Steve McQueen’s wrist in his 1971 film Le Mans, that it acquired a quiet sense of rebelliousness and became a cult-classic almost overnight.
The image of Steve McQueen in his white Heuer racing suit, distinctive Gulf stripes, and the bright blue Monaco on his right arm is one of the most enduring images of his career.
It was this link with the ultimate King of Cool that made the TAG Heuer Monaco a bona fide icon of watchmaking history. And, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to follow in the footsteps of Steve McQueen?
If it’s cool enough for Steve McQueen, it’s cool enough for us.
5. Pole position
TAG Heuer’s passion for motor racing is simply in its blood.
Famous for being the first non-automotive personal sponsor in Formula 1 racing history, it was their partnership with the legendary racing driver, Jo Siffert, that established their name in the adrenaline-fuelled world of motorsports. The brand’s first ambassador, he put the TAG Heuer Carrera and Monaco chronographs firmly in the hearts of die-hard racing fans.
Like the Carrera which took its inspiration from the Mexican road race, the Carrera Panamericana, the Monaco was originally created to pay tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Monaco Grand Prix.
A street circuit like no other, the Monaco Grand Prix is well known for its high speed straights, demanding chicanes, and the infamous tunnel; as well as for being the most glamorous, prestigious and luxurious of all the races in the F1 racing calendar.