Legends of the Monaco, from Heuer to Tag Heuer

Chronographe Heuer Monaco - Bracelet Rallye Cuir

Legends of the Monaco, from Heuer to Tag Heuer

The square timepiece par excellence (that isn’t exactly), the most legendary of them all. Who could’ve predicted such a destiny for a unconventional watch? Does the name Michael Delaney ring any bells? No? It should. What about the actor Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans? The marking event that created the myth.

However, there’s a long path, rich with stories, between the moment that this iconic chronograph landed on Steve McQueen’s wrist and became a legend, and the moment it was created. Some explaining is due…




Chronographe Heuer Monaco - Bracelet Rallye Cuir

In the beginning there was Heuer…

At the end of the 1960’s, the dream of a watch with an automatic mechanical movement was becoming reality. Jack William Heuer, fresh from time spent in the U.S., knew that the launch of an automatic chronograph would change the watch world forever.

What came next was inevitable. An automatic mechanical movement, born out of an emblematic collaboration between Buren, Dubois Depraz, and Breitling. (Quick reminder: Buren timepieces were know for their Micro-rotor movements, the Depraz company were working with movements since the beginning of the century, and Breitling…quite frankly needs no introduction.)

The fruits of labour from this partnership was the Caliber 11, a micro-rotor movement equipped with a chronograph module.

Chronographe Heuer Monaco - Bracelet Rallye Cuir

Why the square?

Heuer - Monaco Vintage - Bracelet Cuir Noir

The Monaco in detail

Besides its very original square case shape, the Monaco has other interesting features…of course, why else would we be here? For starters, you’ll find the crown on the left side of the case instead of the right. According to Heuer, it was to show no winding was necessary anymore…you know, since it’s an automatic movement. But of course.

You have here before you the reference 1133B (for Blue), yes Sir, the same watch that Steve McQueen had on in the film Le Mans. The original model differs in the text inscribed on the dial. Above the logo Heuer, “Chromatic” was written, and “Monaco” appeared above the date window. A grey dial also exists in this reference under 1133G.

Chronographe Heuer Monaco - Bracelet Rallye Cuir

Le Mans, more than just another racing film

So how did the Monaco Heuer land on the wrist of Steve McQueen to become the iconic piece it is today? McQueen who never left home without his Submariner 5512 or his Hanhart 417 chronograph…

After his period in the U.S., Jack Heuer knew to promote certain models like the Autavia or Monaco, equipped with the new Caliber, by publicising them at Formula 1 races. Swiss racing driver Jo Siffert was a natural choice as “ambassador” of Heuer. He, along with a number of other racing drivers, served as stunt doubles for McQueen for certain risky or dangerous scenes.

Legend has it that McQueen, upon seeing Siffert in full racing gear with his Autavia, demanded to be dressed the same for the film. This explains the white Gulf/Heuer auto racing suit and the Heuer timepiece. McQueen is seen with the Monaco because he quite simply preferred the design, and second, it was the safe choice since there were 3 models available on the set, just in case.

Long live Monaco…through TAG Heuer

After the release of the legendary “Dark Lord” Monaco, the production of Monaco pieces would come to a standstill. Then the TAG Group came into the picture, and TAG Heuer was created. This was the jump start needed to fire up production of the square chronograph again. Since then several variations were produced, including a very recent one, released in 2015, that resembles the original model… Long live the spirit of the Monaco!


Chronographe Heuer Monaco - Bracelet Rallye Cuir

To go with a Monaco

Porte-Cartes en Cuir Pigskin Noir
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